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Exene Cervenka reveals MS diagnosis

June 2, 2009 |  8:59 am

Exene Cervenka, the high priestess of the Southern California punk and alternative music scene for three decades, has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the singer for X and the Knitters revealed in a statement issued today.

Cervenka said she underwent tests “after some months of not feeling 100% healthy” and was told she had the inflammatory disease of the central nervous system.

“Although this is obviously unfortunate news,” Cervenka’s statement said, “I am choosing to see the positive in it. I, and X as a band, have supported the Sweet Relief charity since the mid-1990’s; the irony of this is not lost on any of us. Sweet Relief was started as an aide to uninsured artists by musician Victoria Williams when she herself was diagnosed with MS in 1992.”

“While this diagnosis will most certainly mean some changes for me, personally, it will not affect my commitments to the current X U.S. tour, nor will it affect my solo album that is slated for release this fall,” she said.

People with MS can lose control of functions that pass through the brain or spinal cord, but how it affects each person varies widely.

“My focus will certainly be on maintaining my health,” Cervenka, 53, said. “Many people remain strong and continue to live their lives as productively as they had before an MS diagnosis, and I plan to be one of those people.”

In April at the Stagecoach country music festival in Indio, where she sang with the Knitters, Cervenka said backstage that she had been trying to reduce her travel time and time away from her home in Missouri by concentrating performances in short bursts. The Stagecoach set came on the same weekend of a duo performance she gave at the Getty Center in Malibu with her longtime partner in X and the Knitters, John Doe.

“I fly out, do a few shows, see everybody I want to see,” she said, “and then I go home again.”

-- Randy Lewis