Thunder vocalist Danny Bowes has told Classic Rock how the stroke he suffered back in August 2022 made him realise “how precious our existence is, and just how fragile we all are.”
Bowes, whose convalescence involved learning to walk for a second time, came perilously close to death, though following months of rehabilitation the singer returned to his weekly show for Planet Rock Radio (opens in new tab) earlier this month. All the same, Danny has no memory of the accident.
“Here’s what I’ve been told,” he begins. “I had an extensive bleed on the brain, and then I fell down a flight of stairs, landing on my head, which fractured my skull. After that I had a stroke, but the main area of damage was right underneath the wound on my head, so at first the stroke was not diagnosed. All pretty unfortunate really, and I have some pretty good scars on my head.”
Fortuitously, two of his friends, Woody and Sadie, had medical knowledge.
“I must thank Woody and Sadie for keeping me alive until the medical team arrived,” Bowes continues. “I’m told I was rushed to St George’s in Tooting by the South East Coast Ambulance Service, where my wife was told I may not survive the operation to bleed my brain. Luckily the operation was successful, so I owe both teams a massive debt of gratitude.
"I was in hospital for three months, followed by two rehab facilities, during which the full extent of my situation was revealed to me. Strokes do different things to different people, and whilst I won’t give you an extensive list of all my issues, I will say I count myself quite lucky I wasn’t affected more.”
With specialised medical care expensive, Thunder set up a JustGiving page aiming to raise £30,000 to go fund getting Danny into a neuro-rehabilitation centre. Its target was smashed in less than 48 hours. In total the appeal raised more than £72,000, with the remainder going to the Air Ambulance Charity For Kent, Surrey & Sussex (opens in new tab), who did so much to save the vocalist’s life.
Arguably the most interesting aspect of the appeal of that its total was raised by 2,336 supporters. Often these were donations of £5, £10 or £20, whatever fans could afford. That there were few lump sums provides an indication of how much Danny means to so many people.
“That’s a very valid point,” he nods, sounding humbled. “The generosity of the fans has been overwhelming, enabling me to get into a private rehab centre – which I must say was fantastic – but also paying for ongoing private rehab at home. A neurologist physio comes to my house twice a week, and I do the work twice a day every day.”
The challenge of learning to walk again is, according to Danny, “an ongoing thing.”
He adds: “I had a lot of help just getting back on my feet initially when I was in rehab. I can get around the house quite well now, but my balance is not what it was. I can’t walk outside on my own yet though I’m working on that. I’m getting a bit better every day, but it’s a very slow process.”
Returning to the airwaves was massively beneficial for his morale, Danny notes.
“The Planet Rock guys were super supportive straight away,” he explains. “Doing the shows is quite exhausting, but everything is when you’ve had a brain injury, and I know I have to push myself more and more to improve, so doing the show is a good test. I’m just super-relieved they said yes.”
Understandably, there’s no timetable for resuming work with Thunder, however loose.
“It’ll take a long time, and a lot of work,” Danny stresses. “I’ve no idea how long or how much, but the fans can rest assured I’ll do everything I can to be back as soon as possible.”
For anybody to find themselves in such a predicament, facing an uncertain future, dark thoughts go with the territory.
“I had some of those but that’s inevitable, and they didn’t last long,” Bowes acknowledges. “I know what I must do, and am determined to do it. My wife and family have been super-supportive, as have my fellow Thunder band-mates and all my friends, not to mention the fans and radio listeners. I count myself very lucky to have so much support, and I’m optimistic by nature.”
When asked how the events of the past six months changed his outlook on life, Bowes is emphatic.
“It’s made me realise how precious our existence is, and just how fragile we all are,” he responds.
Classic Rock wishes Danny Bowes all the best on the road to full recovery.