Veteran Singer Eddie Low Embarks On NZ Highwaymen Tour Following Recent Surgery
On Thursday 9 November, legendary singer Eddie Low kicked off a four-show extion tour in Kerikeri as part of the NZ Highwaymen, despite having his entire stomach removed a little over a month ago.
The 80-year-old underwent a six-hour surgery on 29 September to remove his stomach due to diffuse gastric cancer, a surgery that has since led to considerable weight loss, as was expected with this operation.
Eddie’s diagnosis came about after extensive testing in Christchurch following his collapse backstage at the Hokitika show during the final nights of the first leg the NZ Highwaymen tour in July. That incident prevented him from performing at the last two shows but was the catalyst for the testing which eventually led to diagnosis of diffuse stomach cancer.
Tour promoter and promoter Aly Cook says that pre-empting concerns about his health and appearance, Eddie has chosen to be open with his fans.
“It hasn’t been an easy decision for him or his family to share such immensely private and personal news, but Eddie is keenly aware that fans are noticing a significant weight loss even since the first leg of the NZ Highwaymen tour ended in July.”
Aly said she and the rest of the NZ Highwaymen were blown away with Eddie’s opening night performance. “The man’s just had his stomach removed, for goodness sake. He’s an absolute champion. He’s still hoarse when he talks as a result of the bruising and damage to his throat and oesophagus from the intubation during and after surgery, but Eddie sings in his diaphragm, not his throat, so there isn’t really much difference when he sings.”
The surgery was originally set for early September, which would have allowed more time for recovery before the planned shows but was delayed due to the senior doctors’ strikes. However, Eddie says even the later date wouldn’t have stopped him.
“People want to see us and that’s a privilege I would never take for granted. I don’t want to let them down.”
Eddie says that on and offstage support from the other Highwaymen — his longtime friends and fellow musicians Gray Bartlett, Dennis Marsh and Brendan Dugan, will also help him get through the shows as its format allows for individual performances as well as group performances”.
“I’ve got the easy part. I just sing a song, sit down and rest, sing another song, sit down and rest,” he says in his typical self-deprecating style.
Aly says, “For almost 60 years Eddie has been one of the hardest working entertainers in this industry and although his recovery is going to be long and difficult, he’s been getting pretty bored just sitting around at home since the surgery. He’s quite excited to get out of the house.”
Eddie was at the post-show CD signing in Kerikeri and hopes to continue this at the remaining shows. However, Aly says she’ll be keeping a close eye on him.
“His health must come first, and as much as he loves to meet with fans after each show, he has to listen to his body. He always tends to push himself, so I’ll be cracking the whip to make sure he’s prioritising his health.”
The NZ Highwaymen are performing shows in Kerikeri (9 November), Papakura (10 November), Rotorua (11 November) and a matinee in Kawerau (12 November). In November/December, Eddie will be performing in Ashburton at the Ashburton RSA with Brendan Dugan (2 December) and at a Christmas Country Concert in Rangiora (3 December) Christchurch, along with Brendan and Sisters in Country — Jodi Vaughan and Aly Cook.