They should have been celebrating two decades of defying the odds as one of the most enduring features of British indie rock. But instead The Charlatans, who once described themselves as "the unluckiest band in pop", announced yesterday that their drummer had been diagnosed with a brain tumour.
The group, whose wah-wah guitar and piercing Hammond organ saw them survive both the Madchester and Britpop scenes of the 1990s, said Jon Brookes was undergoing treatment in a hospital in Britain. One of the band's original founding members, Brookes collapsed midway through a performance in Philadelphia this week and had to be revived by a member of the audience. The band cancelled a series of gigs in North America as a result, but is planning to continue with the British leg of its world tour, beginning on 5 October.
It is the latest in series of setbacks and tragedies which have befallen the band. During their first US tour in 1991 they became embroiled in a legal wrangle with a 1960s band of the same name – requiring them to add UK after their title. Bassist Martin Blunt fought a long battle with severe depression, and in 1992 keyboardist Rob Collins was jailed for eight months for unintentionally taking part in an armed robbery on an off-licence, after he admitted driving a friend away from the scene of the crime.
Four years later, Collins was killed in a car crash during the recording of the band's comeback album, Tellin' Stories, which became their most commercially successful release and spawned three top 10 singles, including their biggest hit, "One to Another", which reached number three in the singles charts.
In 1999 the band's accountant was jailed for swindling them out of £300,000 – the entire proceeds from their first four albums. He told them he was offsetting the money against future taxes. Two years later, Collins's replacement, Tony Rogers, was diagnosed with testicular cancer – he recovered after treatment and continues to play with the band.
It had been hoped that Brookes would also make a full recovery after suffering the seizure last Wednesday, but further tests revealed the tumour. In a statement, the band said: "The Charlatans touring schedule remains unaltered whilst the band arrange for a short-term replacement. The band and Jon would like to thank all well-wishers for their kind messages of support."
The Charlatans were founded in the West Midlands but relocated to Northwich – a move which gained them membership of the dominant Manchester scene at the time. Although they were considered something of an also-ran to more glamorous "baggy" stars such as The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays, they have continued to develop and command a loyal following – releasing their 11th album, Who We Touch, earlier this month.
In his most recent blog on the band's website, Brookes described performing live after intensive rehearsals for the new album. "The result was magical and the first two concerts were a moving experience. The sell-out gigs gave us a great feeling travelling back 20 years," he wrote.Reuse content