Country musician Johnny Burke facing health battle
By Angelica Ingram
Feb. 21, 2017
Johnny Burke has been in the music business for nearly 60 years and he has no plans of hanging up his Stetson hat just yet.
A member of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, Burke, 76, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer last August but is continuing on with his music career.
The tumour is inoperable, said Burke, and so the musician is fighting the disease through other methods, such as diet.
“So far I can still sing,” he said.
Burke has continued playing shows and has a tour lined up for this summer, which he is optimistic about.
While he can still play music, he admits his energy level is very low, which is affecting him and his cabinet making business.
“I haven’t been able to do any work since last June or July,” he said. “It puts everything that you work for on the back burner and any savings that you’ve got disappears ... it makes it kind of rough.”
However, Burke is not letting the diagnoses get him down, instead staying positive and treating this as a bump in the road.
He says he will continue to book shows and play music as he’s got a lot of living left to do.
“I’m not six feet under yet and don’t plan to be,” he said. “I look at it where it’s like if you’re driving from Vancouver to Newfoundland at night, you can only see 200 feet at a time. But you keep driving because there’s another 200 feet.”
He credits a lot of support from the community, his family and wife Teresa, whom he calls an angel, for getting him through. When Burke shared the news about the diagnoses on his Facebook page, he said thousands of heartfelt messages came pouring in.
“It’s quite nice to hear,” he said. “We’ll just go about it one day at a time.”
Originally from the Maritimes, Burke started in the music business in 1960 and is still busy with gigs.
A Go Fund Me page has been set up for Burke by fellow musician and family friend Naomi Bristow.
The goal is to raise money to help him with medical expenses and any impact he might face on his career due to his health issues.
“We definitely appreciate anybody that helps,” he said.
To donate to Burke’s fundraising page, visit www.gofundme.com/fundraiser-for-johnny-burke.