Thursday 27th May ’04
Posted on 2004-06-01 19:45:28
Hello to all the visitors to this site. Thanks for visiting, particularly at this time.
I am about to leave home to spend some time in hospital. Tomorrow morning I will undergo extensive surgery to remove a large cancerous tumour from my right jaw. It is an extremely rare form of saliva gland cancer and I am under the care of one of the leading specialists in the UK. The cancer has not spread. The team of six who will take me through this operation are extremely confident that they know exactly what they are dealing with and where it is. Their united goal is to remove it and leave it in the past. I do not understand why this has happened. Nor do I care. What has happened has happened. I am in now and can only deal with things as they arise. However I am very confident that I have the strength to overcome this “speedbump”. It has been a reminder that nothing, nothing is permanent and that as much as I meditated on that fact for years, it is now clear that the apparently stable and changeless canvas of family, work, career and health are in fact not to be taken for granted. One morning you can wake up and life is very different. I am so glad that I was ready to accept that and move with the curve.
As a musician many of you will know that I use music as a way of exploring, understanding and expressing my emotions. In this time that practice and my meditation practice have stood me in great stead. I am in a place of the most profound, yet simple honesty. Death is present all the time. So many hundreds of people, including many of my peers and “heroes” have been in touch with e-mails and messages of support. I cannot fight this cancer alone. I have an incredible network of family, friends and colleagues that I have carefully gathered around me for over thirty years and more. Everyone at some point has said the words “If there is anything I can do….” and I am so grateful for those heartfelt words. All I would ask each of you to do is to think of me in a loving and positive light during the hours of 7.00am and 1.00pm GMT on Friday the 28th May 2004. After that period the healing of my body will begin and the curve will start to move up again. A dear friend reminded me in a card this morning of words that I remember Mother Teresa saying: “God never gives me anything I can’t handle, I just wish he didn’t trust me so much” As I heal I will be thinking of each and every one of my family, friends, colleagues and supporters. This cancer and healing are a lesson to all of us – teaching us that we are all part of an impermanent system. NOTHING can be taken for granted, no matter how long it seems to be lasting. The safest and clearest place is NOW and that’s where you will find me.
In true love and peace
Posted on 2004-06-10 14:48:39
The cancer is gone. Well, as far as the experts can tell. We are waiting for some pathology and histology reports but it’s all looking good. I am way ahead of my forecasted position. Apparently I should be in bed 24/7, eating through a straw and communicating by paper and pen. No thanks, I’ve some tunes to write…
I am sore and eextreeeeeemely tired. My appetite is back to normal and beyond and I feel very positive. I am eating and speaking normally, and according to those who know, look completely fine. I can honestly say with great clarity that life is already better than it was before the cancer (B.C). It is going to take some months to get back up to physical par but when I do…
The messages on the guest book page reflect the incredible show of love and affection I received.
Schucks! You guys are too much!
Kidding aside, my e-mail Inbox was regularly full over the past fortnight, and when the e-mail count when into four figures I had to stop even trying to reply. I may never get to reply to each person who wrote, e-mailed, left phone messages, but please know that with each message I smiled even stronger and brought it down deep inside to store for the months and years ahead. Thank you very much for your support. It inspired me and motivated me incredibly. In the days after the operation I received messages and phone calls from California to China, New York to Berlin, Glasgow to Southampton (literally!) and my heart swelled. I began to remember that I know some really cool and magnificent beings.
Anyway my right shoulder is hurting and this typing takes longer than it used to. I need to rest. Any good books anyone?
See you along the road somewhere.
Posted on 2004-06-30 18:42:37
‘It’s been a month since my surgery. I am getting stronger every day. I have just had my studio renovated and upgraded. I can feel my creative muscle starting to flex and will spend many days down there under the house.
The next stage is a course of radiotherapy (radio 4 please ha ha!). That starts on July 19th and will on for about six weeks. It will be a roughride but will be worth it.
My good friend and musical partner Keith Bleasby passed away last week. I am feeling strong enough to attend his funeral sevice. He asked us all to bring a drum to play at his graveside. Keith was a master percussioinist. Inspired by him, I had a djembe drum made for me last summer. I always felt so grounded whenever I played with him – he rooted the pulse deep down in the earth and I always felt safe. I will miss him a lot.
Alison my manager and Gary my agent have been very busy in the office and booking me in for lots of Autumn and Spring performances. Do they know something I don’t??! I am looking forward to getting back on the road in the autumn and especially to my residential workshop in Devon.
Our second child is about to arrive, any day now. We are planning for another homebirth – so there is plenty for me to be getting on with. This setback in my health has given me a a great opportunity to stay at home for a few months and enjoy my family. Having a new small person in the house is going to be very exciting!!
Posted on 2004-07-15 17:36:33
‘Hello all. After about six weeks of recovering from very major surgery, I am bracing myself for the second half of the battle with the cancer. Although they are very confident that they got the entire tumour, I will start a course of six weeks radiotherapy this Monday morning (19th July). Each session will last about 10 minutes and they will blast the area where the tumour used to be with a high intensity ray. This will kill any possibly remaining tumour cells.
Unfortunately it will also kill various cells on the side of my face. There will be some unpleasant sore side effects for a few weeks, but they will clear up fairly quickly. I feel so strong and healthy at the moment, but I expect that this course of treatment will tire me out for a few weeks. PLEASE keep me in your thoughts as we finish off the job of putting this right behind me. I am in no doubt whatsoever that all the positive thoughts and prayers that I received over the weeks and during and following my operation are the reason why I recovered so quickly. I need your loving magic one more time please. Anyone in the north east who fancies coming along to my only summer show this year can catch me at the Customs House in South Shields (Newcastle) on Sunday 25th July. Details on the gig page. See you there!
Posted on 2004-07-26 19:20:37
‘Last night I played my first concert since my cancer operation. I was apprehensive to say the least. I knew I could play, but my confidence hasn’t been that low before. I travelled up to South Shields, Newcastle from my home in Suffolk with my road manager Tim and a good friend and great musician Max Gilkes. Apologies to all who turned up for a pre show workshop at 2.30! Communication breakdown – I’ll make it up to you next time. I shared the bill with Brendan Croker and Steve Phillips (yes, those Notting Hillbillies minus Mark Knopfler). We decided that I would go on first as I had the furthest to travel after the show.
During soundcheck we discovered that my Fishman blend pick up system on my guitar was not working. The batteries had died and there was no where to buy these very specialised batteries. After much panic and phone calls we had almost given up. In the end, roadie Tim "Mc Gyver" Webster improvised with a small torch battery, some tin foil paper and some gaffa tape! Saved the Gig. For those of you who didn’t make it, the show was one of the better ones. Opened with Higher Ground as usual and finished after an hour with Bushwhacker. With These Hands was particularly poignant last night. There were some good photos taken. I will post them photo gallery soon. We stopped by the beach on the way home and caught the very last rays of the sun. It was good to see my good friend Jimi Savage again. I had a long nap in the car as Tim whizzed us home. I managed to catch a few more hours in bed before my daily dose of radiotherapy in Cambridge at 11 am this morning. I can’t wait to get back out on the road in the autumn, but last nights gig was just what I needed to give me an energy boost before the effects of the radiotherapy take hold. Lots of concerts are booked for October and November so I hope to see some of you on my travels. See you soon.
HALF WAY THERE (WHERE?)
Posted on 2004-08-10 17:08:02′, ‘
I have passed the half way point in my radiotherapy. 17 more sessions to go. I am constantly tired and have enough mouth ulcers to last me a life time. I lost my sense of taste a few weeks back, but it has now been replaced by the taste of ****. Skin burns and my beard falls out in clumps. It must be working. I am where I am.
Underneath it all I feel extremely healthy – more healthy than I have felt for a few years. However I don’t feel like doing much. I have managed to put together a nice workbook for the September residential guitar workshop. I am working on transcribing a Keith Jarrett piano piece for guitar – something I would never have been able to make the time for before. Other than that it’s plenty of reading and napping and playing with the kids.
Got my new Nick
Benjamin guitar last week. It’s the start of a beautiful relationship…
Stevie Wonder is God!
Posted on 2004-08-31 11:47:47′,
‘Three more days. Tomorrow morning I start the last three days of my radiotherapy. It has actually gone quite quickly, although the past ten days have been extremely challenging. Many of the side effects have been very tough on my body, but they should lift quite quickly once the therapy stops. Although not a sports fan I am now an expert on the 2004 Olympics, and they did help to keep my mind off everything. TV has been about all I can manage recently. Even reading is out of the question. While I have been getting better it has been revealed to me that Stevie Wonder is God. I had heard this from others before, but now I believe. I have worked out a cool version of his track I Wish !
In Good Health
Turning the corner
Posted on 2004-09-22 11:12:39
Well, I am finally turning the corner with this recovery. After the operation I was getting better each day and during the radiotherapy I was getting worse each day. So I finally feel like I am getting better again. I was wrapped in cotton wool by Tim the road manager and my good friend Peter Sprot and carried to Birmingham last Sunday to play at the annual Guitarfest at the Birmingham Conservetoire. I was sharing a dressing room with bass virtuoso Stu Hamm. I first saw Stu sixteen years ago at the Berklee performance centre in Boston Massachusetts, playing with Joe Satriani. During the show Stu did a short fifteen minute solo set and blew my mind. In those fifteen minutes I learned how music could be intricate, heartfelt and entertaining all at once. It was good to meet the man. It’s nice when Billy Sheehan knocks on your dressing room door too!
I performed well and the crowd were very supportive. It was good to feel the ‘boards’ again and the addition of a wireless head microphone set to my set up helped to make it a new beginning. Onwards and upwards!
A few thousand miles ….
I have put a few thousand miles behind me in the past 3 weeks with gigs on the south coast, my annual residential guitar workshop for a week, five days up at the Ullapool guitar festival in Highlands, and a very memorable sold out show at the Ellis Theatre in Marlborough last Sunday. We are packing for the Open Strings festival in Germany this Friday. Almost feels like I am back to normal. Not strong enough to resume my duties as Head of Guitar at ACM yet, but I am looking forward to attending the graduation ceremony in Guildford in a few weeks and handing out diplomas and certificates to all the hardworking students! And of course the coveted "Guitarist of the Year" prize! I have been very impressed with all the audiences turning out to see me on my travels. It would seem that the performances have taken on a deeper dimension in these post cancer days. It certainly feels that way. See you on the road somewhere!
Posted on 2004-10-21 13:06:12
I got my first ALL CLEAR yesterday from my consultant at Adenbrookes hospital in Cambridge. It is great relief that I have made it this far and have great hope that things will continue to get better. I would love to see some of you on my next whizz around the UK next week so please check the performance page and try to come along!
Our European adventure
Posted on 2004-10-21 13:48:10
Tim (my helper in more ways than 1) and I drove to Germany (ok ok ok, TIM drove and I sat there and read ‘The Davinci Code’ by Dan Brown) last week for the annual Open Strings guitar festival in Osnabruck. The event is run by my good friend Peter Finger who is basically Mr. Fingerstyle in Germany. He runs the biggest acoustic guitar label there, runs the magazine Akustik Guitar and also runs the Open Strings festival and International Guitar Night in Germany. I shared the bill with Ian Melrose – a wonderful celtic/world fingerstyle guitar player from Scotland who is now based in Berlin, Claus Boesser-Ferrari – a native German fingerstyle player who has a very dynamic compositional style and the exquisite Dean Magraw, with whom I had an immediate connection through my old pal from Ireland percussionist Jimmy Higgins. Dean is a monster player and a seeply spiritual player. I really enjoyed meeting him finally and his own story of recovery is an inspiration to someone like me who is just setting off down that road back to full health. Thanks Dean! I am back in germany during my May tour and hope to visit a few more cities that time!
Another year is over…
Posted on 2004-12-02 06:34:00
…well not quite, but I am finished touring for the year! Tim and I have packed away all the heavy flight cases and merchandise until the Spring. All the main guitars will have a good rest and make over in time for the whole cycle to start again next year. But I am not putting my feet up and taking it easy! There’s plenty of writing, magazine articles to submit, tunes to write. My good friend Adam Pain is going to help out with the midi wiring and general synchronicity of my studio. And of course my new love of baking bread needs to be satisfied, so there will plenty of action in the kitchen with cinnamon bread, ciabatta, apple strudel etc.! Throw in two young kids that need lots of stimulation and you can tell that I will need a rest after this "rest"! I am off to America in January for performing and general Californication. Then it’s gearing up for a very extensive set of dates in March, April and May into early June all over the UK and Europe. You can expect two studio albums from the Eric Roche camp in 2005, and at least one of them will be a surprise for most of you!! Of course my brief but highly energetic dance with cancer has left me a little worn but as any of you who came out to see me over the autumn will know that it has only deepened my playing. Finally I want all who sent me messages over the past six months that your thoughts, prayers and meditations were an enormous help in my healing and continuing recovery. Thank you again and again.
With much love to all,
2005 – a great start
Posted on 2005-01-15 14:53:58
Sorry for the delay in getting another diary instalment in. Christmas confusion set in around mid-December. Ali back at HQ kept asking me for another diary entry, but I am only getting around to it now! My health continues to improve every day and after some reconstructive surgery later this autumn I will be able to put the past twelve months behind me! However, right now I am unpacking one suitcase after a trip to Belfast on Thursday, and packing another for a much longer trip to California on Tuesday. There are lots of shows and other events going on so I will be very busy. And of course I get to spend time with my "brother in strings" Thomas Leeb. Lots of great shows coming up over the next 12 months – one of which is, finally, a trip to China! There are a few shows lined up there in April so Tim and I are practising our Chinese! As usual I will bring my diary camera and add some shots to the gallery. I will keep you up to date while I am on my travels over the next fortnight too so check back here again soon!
Now where is that passport – I think I left it in Zagreb!
Hello from LA on Wednesday 19th Jan
Posted on 2005-01-19 10:55:56
Hello from the very warm west coast. Tim picked me up at 6.00 am yesterday and dumped me at Heathrow terminal three at 9.00 am. After a long boring flight – over eleven hours – I was very tired. Got to my hotel late afternoon and crashed. Woke up bright as a button at 3 a.m and unpacked, played guitar, watched 120 different TV channels (allllll crap!), tried to get my damn wireless modem up and running (got it now!) and had two baths. By breakfast time I was already feeling like I had done a days work. Tonight is my first show at Tone Merchants. Also on the bill will be my brother in strings Thomas Leeb and the incredible Guthrie Govan and band. I plan to keep a daily diary on line during this trip so keep dropping by!
Posted on 2005-01-21 02:41:59
Here’s a tip. If you fly from Europe to the west coast of the USA, an eleven hour flight, then stay awake as long as you can after you land. Normalise your sleep pattern – in other words try to get to bed at the usual bedtime, no matter how tired you are. Otherwise the three day rule takes effect – the jet lag hits you worst on the third day! Today is the third day. Day and night are very mixed up now. I had a great show tonight with a wonderful guitarist and freind from New York – Vicki Genfan and the legendary Carl Verheyn. I have just finished the evening in the hotel bar with a dozen friends from all over the world. I met Chuck Rainey (ex Steely Dan) today, Andy Summers (ex Police) as well many old friends like George Lowden, Tony Gravel from Tascam, Udo Roesner from AER, as well as Robie Duke, Larry Fishman, Teja Gerken and Scott Nygard from Acoustic Guitar magazine and even my old frinds from Future publishing in the UK – Neville Marten, Mike Leonard and Dave Burlock… and many other industry gentlemen. Last night’s show was cool – Guthrie Govan was amazing as usual and it was great to hear Jamie Humphries playing again too. Thomas Leeb amazed the audience and I had a tough time sharing the bill with these giants. Although I am tired I do love the social life of the NAMM show here in LA. Now I am going to bed. It feels like four in the afternoon, but my kids are just waking up and it’s almost midnight here….
Posted on 2005-02-01 19:31:48
28 January 2005. Well the trip to the US is over. As I write I am sitting on a balcony in San Diego watching surfers on the Pacific. It’s a different world from Suffolk England. Setting out for LA airport soon for another 11 hour flight. Visited the headquarters of NAMM yesterday and met all the lovely people who work there. They ordered a large consignment of my album The Perc U Lator for all their board members and members. I spent the evening with Ken Wilson and his wife Tina. Thomas Leeb and I enjoyed a great meal and some relaxing music as the sun went down. Looking forward to my next US visit – possibly Indianapolis in July. "There is so much magnificence near the ocean, waves keep coming in , waves keep coming in." Inspirational words by Peter Markena. See Y’all later.
Picking Up Speed
Posted on 2005-03-11 13:58:30
We had a wonderful time in both Austria and Germany. The temperature varied greatly – between -10 and -20! The show at Hockenheim was sold out – a big thanks to Claus- Boesser Ferrrari for making it a success. The show at the Dizzy Fingers festival in Dortmund was one of my best performances if I say so myself! Off to Belfast in the morning for a few shows and a workshop. Then a bit of a break while I catch up with some Guitar Techniques magazine deadlines! Next medical check up will be on Tuesday 15th March. Sliiiiightly tense about this one. Watch this space. Otherwise the tour in April and May is just about finalised. New tour posters and flyers goingt to print next week! See you all out there somewhere.
Wales and Belgium
Posted on 2005-04-02 17:13:44
What’s Wales and Belgium? I hear you ask. Is it some chocolate covered sheep? Or perhaps a pretty poor Rugby match? No. These are just two of my recent international trips. And I can tell you that it takes 3.5 times longer to get to Wales than to Belgium. For easter weekend I enlisted the help of my very old and dear friend Mark Moloney for a show in St Dogmaels on the west coast of Wales. We set out Friday evening and stayed overnight at the Hilton in Newbury. We set out on Saturday morning and after a further 4.5 hours driving arrived at the venue. It was time well spent though as myself and Mark have a great friendship and have plenty to talk about. We even spent time together playing in the same band about fifteen years ago and it was funny to remember those days. My dear friend Ravi and his partner Rachel were our hosts and treated us to the beauty of the Poppit sands, the local tea shop and (highly recommended) sprouted hemp bread.
The show that evening was sold out and a very enthusiastic crowd gathered from the local area and beyond. Mark’s debut as a roadie was stunning (Tim through my own fault was unable to make the gig). The man is an ox! Ravi joined me for a few numbers, incuding an un-rehearsed Amazing Grace which he sang using vocal overtones! After the show I met Maddie Lynfield, an amazing woman who runs HeartSprings. Maddie cured herself of a melon sized cancerous tumour using only alternative therapies.She was an inspiration to meet and we talked at length after the show. The following day we went to see Rachel’s huge project – a 100% environmentally friendly straw bale house. The work has been on-going for a the last two years and it is a testament to her incredible imagination, will, strength and intelligence. She is an enormous inspiration to me. After a wonderful picnic in the woods with her family we set back on the road to Suffolk. Mark stayed the rest of the week with me and the family and teh kids loved him!
On Friday the first of April Tim and I dropped him off at teh train station while on route to the airport to play a show in Virton,Belgium. I had been invited by the Musique Acoustique association in Belgium to play at the guitar festival in Virton. I shared the bill with some giants of the fingerstyle world – Peter Finger, Claus Boesser-Ferrari, Jacques Stotzem and Isato Nakagawa. We played a mixture of solo pieces, duets and ensemble pieces. I played the linguistically appropriate Ce Petite Cochon, She Dives Me Crazy, and my own arrangement of Jacques Stotzem’s piece Sur Vesdre. Jacques and I did a duet version of Amazing Grace. The five of us played Blue Monk, Mercy Mercy and for the encore All of Me. It was a wonderfuf evening for all of us and the audience. I met many friends from all over Europe that evening and am already looking forward to my next visit, but right now I’ve got to pack for CHINA!
Voyage Of Discovery
Posted on 2005-08-11 13:45:09
I have been making various attempts over the past weeks and months to write a diary entry. I know now how my friend Philip Sudo ("Zen Guitar") must have felt. I am very grateful to my brother for his help in achieving this. Things are very tough physically. And it will take a miracle to get through them. The next milestone is my Son Stefan’s third birthday on August 27th. We already had Francesca’s first Birthday on the 5th of July. Thank you for your continuing messages of support. I also want to thank those special friends who have taken the time and travelled great distances to visit me during this difficult time. Just to let you know, it has been a voyage of incredibly intense spirituality and self discovery. Please feel free to support me and my family and my music through this website by staying in touch regularly and spreading the web site name as far and wide as you can. I am sorry that this message is not as coherent as I would have liked, but I would rather say something sooner than wait until later. You are all in my thoughts, and I appreciate being in yours.
Eric Roche, Thursday 11th August 2005.