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Music

Elvis Costello reveals ‘aggressive’ cancer diagnosis as he cancels tour dates

The singer-songwriter said he had ‘a small but very aggressive cancerous malignancy’ that required surgery

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 July, 2018, 3:34am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 July, 2018, 6:56am

The musician Elvis Costello has revealed he was recently diagnosed with “a small but very aggressive cancerous malignancy” and has cancelled tour dates while he recovers from the subsequent treatment.

Writing on his website, the singer-songwriter said: “Six weeks ago my specialist called me and said, ‘You should start playing the Lotto.’ He had rarely, if ever, seen such a small but very aggressive cancerous malignancy that could be defeated by a single surgery.”

Elvis Costello looks back on growing up in the public eye

The message is the first time Costello, 63, has revealed he has cancer. He added: “I was elated and relieved that our European summer tour could go ahead.”

Having been told he would need three to four weeks of recovery, Costello began the tour, and played a number of concerts across Europe. But he has been advised to cancel the remaining dates by his doctor.

Seek your doctor’s advice … it is better than playing roulette
Elvis Costello on signs of illness

“The spirit has been more than willing but I have to now accept that it is going to take longer than I would have wished for me to recover my full strength,” Costello said, adding apologies to fans who bought tickets for the cancelled concerts, who are told they should go to “point of purchase” for refunds.

He alluded to the nature of his cancer – which is not specifically named – by addressing his male fans and urging them to talk to their friends,

“You’ll find you are not alone – seek your doctor’s advice if you are in doubt or when it is timely and act as swiftly as you may in these matters. It may save your life. Believe me, it is better than playing roulette,” he said.

Elvis Costello is one of Britain’s most celebrated songwriters, starting out in the late 1970s by channelling the energy of punk into classic, melodic songcraft, and going on to define the “new wave” sound.

As well as releasing 24 solo albums, he has collaborated with figures including Burt Bacharach, Allen Toussaint and the hip-hop band the Roots.

Elvis Costello turns his plentiful talents to autobiography

Costello also announced “a magnificent new record of which we are truly proud”, recorded with his band the Impostors, and planned for release in October.

His previous record with the band was 2008’s “Momofuku”, and it will be Costello’s first new music since his Roots collaboration, “Wise Up Ghost”, in 2013.

Earlier this year, though, marked the first time versions of songs Costello recorded with Paul McCartney had been heard.

These include demos they worked on for McCartney’s 1989 solo album “Flowers in the Dirt”, some of which Costello later recorded himself.

“In the continuity of Paul McCartney collaborators,” Costello said on their release, “I’m the person that stands between Michael Jackson and Kanye West and Rihanna. You just didn’t know that about me.

“And that’s a pop fact with which you can probably win a bet.”