Cancer shock for popular musician on city bar scene

Singer Graeme E Pearson has targeted a comeback gig on Hogmanay
Singer Graeme E Pearson has targeted a comeback gig on Hogmanay
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ONE of the city’s best-known musicians has been diagnosed with cancer.

Graeme E Pearson, a regular fixture in Edinburgh bars for more than two decades, is suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and has been forced to stop working.

The 46-year-old is now on a course of chemotherapy to fight the illness, adding that he and his doctors are “optimistic” because of his age and good general health that he can beat the condition.

The sudden onset of the illness, and official diagnosis in August, has meant he has lost his sole source of income.

As well as playing live music most nights, he runs a company called Oor Toors which takes tourists on amusing guides round the Capital.

He told the Evening News: “It was a shock, no doubt, and it’s something you always expect to happen to someone else.

“I had a lump under my arm and my wife urged me to visit the doctor. For the first few weeks it was a big scare.

“I’m more worried for my family. I’ve got three children aged nine, eleven and 13.

“Luckily, because I’m in generally good health and relatively young for the disease to happen, I’m hopeful.

“There are various types of the disease – I’m at stage four. It’s in my bone marrow and lymph nodes. They reckon it’s in about 15 per cent, which is encouraging because I think in most cases it’s usually up to about 60 or 70 per cent.”

The South Queensferry entertainer is a much-loved performer, singing in the main pubs in the Royal Mile and Grassmarket areas.

His set, which can range from Neil Young covers to versions of You Cannae Shove Your Granny Off the Bus, appeals to locals and tourists, as does his eclectic fashion sense on stage.

He launched his Oor Toors brand in 2008 to great acclaim, becoming the first programme of its type in Edinburgh to mix history with song.

Despite the punishing treatment, he has vowed to make a return as soon as possible, and will know more about his condition after an appointment later this month at St John’s Hospital, Livingston.

He said: “The main problem is my immune system.

“The treatment clears all the bad stuff out but also the good stuff too, so I can’t really go out to pubs and interact too much with people because of that.

“I think there might be a part of this that’s hereditary. My uncle had it and died when he was 46, but medicine and research has moved on quite a lot since then.”

He added: “I’ve targeted my comeback gig. It’ll hopefully be Hogmanay at the Maybury Casino.

“People do find it hard talking about it to me. I know myself, if I was speaking to someone who’d just been diagnosed with cancer I’d probably say: ‘Good luck to you’ and that would be it.

“But the support I’ve had has been fantastic and I hope to be back soon.”

amorris@edinburghnews.com