Mr Big’s Pat Torpey admits he feared his “life was over” when he was told he had Parkinson’s disease last year.
The diagnosis forced the drummer, 55, to scale back his involvement in the band’s looming tour. They hired Matt Starr to fill in, but Torpey was still involved on the road, singing on some tracks and adding percussion on others.
And he says the news was a crushing blow at first, but adds that his family and bandmates helped him focus on living life to the full.
He tells MusicRadar: “At first, you think your life is over. You think it on a lot of levels - there’s physically, but also your sense of identity, who you are. I’ve been a drummer for 45-50 years, and suddenly it’s like, ‘Well, he used to be a drummer.’ That’s how I processed it, as if my identity was shaken. It felt taken away.”
Torpey told his bandmates he would have to sit out the tour for latest album …The Stories We Could Tell – but they refused, telling him there was no show without him.
He says: “We’ve been together for 25 years and have been through a lot. It’s amazing to have such a support system. They’ve been truly wonderful to me.
“Matt Starr played most of the songs behind the kit. I played five songs. Eric and I did a lot of lead vocals together. I sang on pretty much everything, and I played a cocktail kit and percussion.
“The show developed to a point where I was a real part of it. It’s a real tribute to those guys, because I had given up, but they said, ‘No, we want you there.’”
As for his health, Torpey says things are improving. He adds: “My Parkinson’s is pretty controllable at this point. I’m grateful in how controlled it is. I’m doing great. I’m sleeping and doing stuff.
“The drumming is compromised a bit. Funnily enough, I had to have a shoulder replacement a couple of months ago. I burned bright, but I burned out, too. I had a sling on for about six months. Everything’s been rebuilt, and it’s amazing how great it is. I’m getting stronger every day.”