chris rea was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which is one of the most dangerous forms because it’s usually diagnosed in late stages, in 1994. Back then he had the world at his feet, preparing for a US tour, huge record sales, several number one albums, no shortage of money in the bank, etc.
when he tells his story today, however, he talks of this as the beginning of a new and surprisingly better stage in his life. he’ll talk about learning what matters most in life is precisely the things we tend to take for granted each and every day, like those closest to us, or even the people whom we are forced by circumstance to be near.
what is especially interesting, to me at least, is the way in which it led chris down the road of playing the music for which he’s renowned today – and the concert we went to last night was a wonderful testimony to that. whilst he had millions of fans before his cancer diagnosis, this is what helped him to decide no longer to play what the record labels told him he needed to play in order to sell records. he now plays the blues – not because he thinks people will listen, buy his records, or whatever, but because life is too short to play anything other than what you love. last year sometime in an interview he said ‘if cancer hadn’t nearly killed me, I’d be just another selfish celebrity egomaniac’OK – I’m a fan already, but chris is a serious talent – the backdrop for the whole concert consisted of his paintings and the music was… well, I think he’s the best bluesman around at present.