Belfast Telegraph

Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody reveals he lives in fear of developing dementia like dad

Snow Patrol‘s Gary Lightbody
Snow Patrol‘s Gary Lightbody

Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody has revealed that he lives in fear of developing dementia like his dad Jack.

Lightbody said that he has forgot the lyrics to his own songs when performing on stage with his bandmates.

In an interview with The Sun the Bangor rock star said that he completes daily brain and memory exercises in hopes of staving off the memory-loss disease.

He shared details of his dad's battle with the disease which he described as being at an advanced stage.

“My dad has dementia and I’ve always had memory problems. That’s been a lifetime problem," the 43-year-old said.

“I’m sure that it will run to me and that’s why I’m trying to get on top of it in my forties, rather than leave it any later.

“Hopefully I’ve got a few years yet before that affects me. Memory is close to my heart and on my mind. I’ve been trying to do memory exercises."

He explained the techniques he has been trying to improve his memory.

“The past few days I’ve been learning all the UN countries in the world and their capitals. I set myself little tasks like that," Lightbody said.

“I hope at some point that will connect tissue when I’m on stage. Something disconnects me from the lyrics when I’m there.

Gary Lightbody, Johnny McDaid, and Nathan Connolly. Snow Patrol and guests play at Ward Park in Bangor. 25 Saturday May 2019 (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)
Gary Lightbody, Johnny McDaid, and Nathan Connolly. Snow Patrol and guests play at Ward Park in Bangor. 25 Saturday May 2019 (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

“When I ask myself what the next line is on stage, I immediately forget it. I wrote them and I’ve sung them hundreds of times but the slight uncertainty f***s me up every time.”

The Bangor rocker has even taken to having lyrics in front of him via autocue during Snow Patrol concerts.

The band are visiting Belfast as part of their Reworked tour next month.

“I’ll have the lyrics in front of me on a screen, as many people do, or else a lot of our shows would be instrumental, which is not exactly what we’re known for," he said.

“I figure it’s better to have them there in case I forget.

“I don’t tend to look down at them that much but I just feel it’s better to have it there in case I have a complete brain freeze.”

Lightbody described the impact his dad's battle with the disease has had on his family.

“There’s a song on our album Wildness called Soon, which is about him and what he’s going through.”

The lyrics include the lines: “Soon you’ll not remember anything/But then some day neither will I/Tomorrow though is nothing to fear/Because father it’s always today.”

“It’s him I’m worried about these days, and my mum as well, because he is not 100 per cent sure what’s going on.

"My mum is extremely aware of what’s going on and it’s heartbreaking, because she is with him every day.”

The singer spoke of his appreciation of everything his parents had done to help make him a success.

"My dad is retired. He worked for the civil service. My mum worked three jobs at a time to put me through private school," Lightbody explained.

“I went to a good school and most of the kids were from wealthy parents. I saw some bank statements when my mum was clearing out recently and there was an awful lot of red in them in those days.

"I didn’t realise how tight they had it. That kind of dedication is something I’m so grateful for.

“They never let on they were so broke. Now I try to give them money to help them. It just sits in the bank. They won’t touch it, which is typical of that generation.”

The Snow Patrol frontman said he hoped to see a cure for dementia in his lifetime.

“I was at Dundee University a couple of years ago for the graduation," Lightbody said.

“At lunch I was sitting beside a scientist who is working on a cure for Alzheimer’s.

“He told me they are 15 years away from a big breakthrough. I’ve read that in other places too. Maybe within our lifetime there could be big advances in it, and I hope there are.

“Unfortunately for people who are already suffering, like my dad and millions of others around the world, it’s going to come too late.

“It’s a horrible disease and insidious. It takes your memories from you, it takes your life, takes the people that you love and love you from you.

“They fade away from your memory. It’s a horrible thing.”

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