Stephen Cummings was disembarking from a flight into Brisbane when everything went sideways. He steadied himself against the wall of the aerobridge. An anxious flyer, he assumed it was the after-effects of a Valium he’d taken to calm his nerves, and that it would wear off ahead of that night’s performance.
The veteran Australian singer-songwriter – a fixture of Australian music since the late 70s with his band the Sports, then as a revered solo artist – had two sets booked at the Junk Bar, a tiny club in inner Brisbane. While playing, he realised he was having trouble forming chords on his guitar. Indeed, he was having trouble staying upright. He completed the gig, but felt disturbed, and had a sleepless night.
Even so, it wasn’t until he returned to Melbourne and staggered out of the terminal that the seriousness of his condition was immediately apparent to his wife, Kathleen O’Brien. Cummings’s mouth was crooked, and he was struggling to walk. “I’m taking you straight to the Alfred [hospital], you’ve had a stroke,” she told him.
This was in March 2020, just as the Covid-19 pandemic was breaking out in Australia. Cummings had actually been intending to retire: he had turned 65 the previous September, and had just two more gigs booked in Melbourne.… Read more..