Billy Connolly forced to give up his beloved banjo because of Parkinson's

The disease has particularly affected his left hand, where he has a banjo tattoo

Saturday 18 July 2015 17:05 BST
Billy Connolly opts for a smart moustache and beard combination that matches his long grey hair
Billy Connolly opts for a smart moustache and beard combination that matches his long grey hair (Getty Images)

Comedian Billy Connolly has been forced to give up playing his beloved banjo and guitar because of Parkinson's disease.

The Scottish stand-up, a former folk singer, says he can no longer play the instruments as the condition is affecting his left hand in particular.

Speaking as he prepares to tour America for an ITV documentary series, the 72-year-old spoke of his disappointment that he can no longer play, especially as he has dates scheduled at bluegrass festivals.

In an in interview in Canada, Connolly - who has a banjo tattoo on his left hand - said: "I'm starting a documentary series in a month's time following the railways around America. I'm going to festivals and state fairs and all that.

"I've been longing to do it for a long time. The only trouble is that we're going to bluegrass festivals and I've got Parkinson's Disease and it's really affected my left hand and I can't play the banjo or guitar any more, but I'll join in on the singing at least.

"It's been a rough go between that and the cancer. I kept telling my wife that haemorrhoids couldn't be far behind."

The comedian and actor revealed in 2013 that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's and prostate cancer at the same time.

The banjo was the single luxury Connolly, who has now been cleared of cancer, chose to take with him as a fictional castaways when he appeared on Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 in 2001.

He will travel through 28 states and 8,000 miles by train later for the ITV documentary series, called Billy Connolly's Tracks Across America.

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