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Heavy Metal Rocker Diagnosed With Parkinson's Disease

Saxon’s Graham Oliver, 71, discusses his struggle with the disease. 

At least 500,000 Americans currently are diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, a neurological disease that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements, such as shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination, according to the NIH's National Institute on Aging. This week, a rock and roll legend opened up about the condition, which he has been battling.

Graham Oliver, 71, Was a Guitarist for Saxon

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Graham Oliver, the 71-year-old former guitarist of English metal band Saxon, opened up about his health condition on the The Classic Rock Podcast.

He Initially Brushed Off Symptoms As Old Age


He said he started experiencing symptoms, but brushed off the symptoms as old age, maybe a trapped nerve or arthritis. "I've had this complaint since lockdown and thought it was a trapped nerve," he said. 

He Didn't Do Anything About It

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"I didn't know what to put it down to. I just put it down to inactivity, a bit of old age or arthritis, or a trapped nerve."

This Isn't His First Health Hurdle

Direction sign for a hospital and emergency room
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He was shocked to hear the diagnosis. But it's not the first health hurdle he's jumped over. Three years before the release of Saxon's self-titled album, he suffered a major setback.

He Lost a Finger and Had a Mini Stroke


"I mean, [in] '76, I cut my finger off and was told I'd never play a guitar again," he said. "When I was 59 I had a mini-stroke, and that paralyzed my left side, and I thought I'd never play again." 

He Said He Is "Just Going to Keep Going Till I Can't"

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"So I have overcome them and I've got another battle on my hands. I've done it three times, so it'll be the third time lucky. It's not going to beat me as yet. I'm just going to keep going till I can't," he continued. 

He Is Still Playing Music and Is On Medication


Oliver is still busy playing music, currently with Graham Oliver's Army. He claims that recently he has even been able to play things he hadn't been able to for years. "Yeah, well I am on medication, and I went to jam night last week," he said. 

He's Doing "Really Well"

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"I did a gig in Lancaster with Oliver's Army, which is the band [name] we're using now, and I did really well. Because before I had to concentrate on my left hand to make it work properly, whereas [last week] I was playing things I hadn't played for a couple of years."

What Is Parkinson's Disease



According to the NIH's National Institute on Aging, Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements, such as shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination.

Symptoms Worsen Over Time


"Symptoms usually begin gradually and worsen over time. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking. They may also have mental and behavioral changes, sleep problems, depression, memory difficulties, and fatigue," they say. 


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