Spirit Of The West Frontman John Mann Dies At 57


Spirit of the West frontman John Mann died Wednesday in Vancouver. He was 57.

“Surrounded by friends and loving family until the end, all were reminded of John’s rich legacy,” read a statement from Spirit of the West. “He was a potent force in music, acting – onstage, in movies and on television – and was world renowned as a songwriter.

“He was a foresightful activist and charitable figure for several worthwhile organizations. His work will resound long after his untimely passing.”

Spirit of the West remembered Mann as “a man of uncommon courage, … a loyal and beloved friend, a gentleman of great social conscience, and a soul brimming with creativity and enthusiasm.”

The Canadian singer and musician was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2014 – only years after beating colorectal cancer.

“I don't want to spend any more energy trying to hide my symptoms. I don't want to feel embarrassed,” Mann said in a statement at the time. “I want to accept what has happened and live. I will continue to make music and I will continue to do shows.”

In the 2016 documentary Spirit Unforgettable, Mann described his struggle with Alzheimer's. "It's like a white wall, an empty white wall … Nothing else," he said.

Born in Calgary, Mann moved as a teenager to Vancouver, where he began to study acting before starting a band.

Spirit of the West released its self-titled debut album in 1984 but it wasn’t until 1990’s Save This House that the band gained mainstream success thanks to the anthemic “Home for a Rest,” which Mann co-wrote with bandmate Geoffrey Kelly.

Spirit of the West played their final concerts together in 2016. In Spirit Unforgettable, Mann said he wanted to “go out with a bang, not a whimper.”

Mann also released three solo albums between 2002 and 2014.

In 2018, Canadian music artists like Sarah McLachlan, Alan Doyle, JIm Cuddy and Colin James recorded a cover of "Home for a Rest" to raise funds for Mann.

Doyle took to Twitter to pay tribute to "the biggest influence this singer and performer ever had." He added: "Go Johnny Go. And wherever you’re going, that’s where I wants to go, too."

Doyle's Great Big Sea bandmate Bob Hallett tweeted: “John Mann was the smartest musician I ever met, a wonderful storyteller, a superb and fearless performer, a volcano of energy, and a great friend. I'll miss him, and so should you.”

A tweet from Canadian band Lowest of the Low described Mann as "a great talent who left an indelible mark on Canadian music."

Mann leaves behind wife Jill Daum and their children Harlan and Hattie.

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