Legendary Austin rocker Jon Dee Graham suffers cardiac arrest after show in Chicago

Jon Dee Graham performs Thursday night, shortly before suffering a cardiac arrest

UPDATE: 7/8/2019. Jon Dee Graham is out of the hospital and back home in Texas, and he says he will play Wednesday night at his weekly gig at The Continental Club in Austin. According to a post today on his Facebook page, Graham wrote: “I WAS ONLY DEAD FOR A LITTLE WHILE! No really, my heart stopped & they had to revive me, but I’m feeling better. Grateful beyond words for all the love & support that poured in from all fronts. Home safe thanks to Gretchen Harries Graham & Tracey Dear (Gretchen’s Irish half brother ever since his mom, Jane, started adoption proceedings last summer in Kilkenny to adopt Gretchen). Resting up & healing. I will be back at it ASAP. And since I’m supposed to walk I think I can play within a few days. So please come hug me (but not too hard) this Wednesday at The Continental Club & this Saturday at The Saxon Pub. And thank you to Bonnie Whitmore for being with me the first night in Chicago in the ICU & everything else. I love you ALL! Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts & prayers, it seems to be working!”


7/5/2019 (Chicago)

By Bob Chiarito

Hours after performing at a music festival Thursday night, Austin musician Jon Dee Graham suffered a cardiac arrest. He is now recovering in a Chicago hospital.

Graham, 60, performed an 75-minute set Thursday evening at the 38th Annual American Music Festival at Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn. Afterward, he was spotted by a reporter walking into the smoking section of the festival to have a cigarette and thanked fans who were showing appreciation for his set, which he performed with his band The Fighting Cocks.

According to Kate Fitzgerald, co-owner of the bar that booked him, Graham’s medical incident happened later that night or early Friday morning at the Chicago hotel where he is staying.

On his Facebook page Friday, a post read “After Jon Dee’s performance last night at Fitzgerald’s Americana Festival he went into cardiac arrest. He is in the ICU in Chicago and is at this time expected to make a full recovery. The rest of the tour is canceled, but no one will be surprised to find him back on his feet and back at it before you know it. While he’s a hard man to keep down, keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Thanks to everyone who is reaching out.”

During his set in the crowded and humid Fitzgerald’s, he joked about the current state of affairs in the United States, saying he didn’t have any optimistic songs but that the closest thing he had was his song, “Things Might Turn Out Right,” which he performed. He also joked with operators of the venue from the stage about the lineup signage, saying “My name is in 8 point type and it’s all about Alejandro Escovedo, Alejandro Escovedo, Alejandro Escovedo, and I’m better!”

Graham played with Alejandro Escovedo, who headlines the final day of the festival Saturday night, and his brother Javier in the mid-1980s in the band True Believers, a band many herald as pioneers of Cowpunk and alt-country. He first gained recognition in Austin’s punk scene around 1980 as a member of The Skunks before playing guitar with blues singer Lou Ann Barton. After that, he played in True Believers before releasing solo albums in the mid 1990s. He’s been inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame three times — for his work with The Skunks, True Believers and as a solo artist.

Also during his set Thursday evening Graham appeared intoxicated, but according to a Fitzgerald’s employee who did not wish to be named, “He’s always drunk but we love him. He’s here every year.”


Read our 2016 interview with Jon Dee Graham


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