“It’s not going to beat me yet”: Saxon’s Graham Oliver on being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease

The guitarist says he is determined to “keep going”.

Graham Oliver on stage plying a black electric guitar, he has his eyes closed and his mouth open. The background behind him is bright green.

Image: Steve Thorne / Getty

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Graham Oliver, 71-year-old former guitarist of English metal band Saxon, has opened up on his Parkinson’s diagnosis.

When it comes to his health, this isn’t the first uphill battle Oliver has had to fight to continue his music career, and he says he’s determined to “keep going” until he physically can’t.

Oliver co-founded Saxon in the late 1970s, and played guitar on their self-titled debut which landed in ‘78, through to 1992’s Forever Free. Since his departure in 1995, he has played guitar as part of a variety of rock outfits, and released a solo record – 2001’s End Of An Era.

Appearing on the Classic Rock Podcast, Oliver shares how he believed his complaint was due to a minor reason at first (via Guitar World): “I’ve had this complaint since lockdown and thought it was a trapped nerve.”

He continues, “I didn’t know what to put it down to. I just put it down to inactivity, a bit of old age or arthritis, or a trapped nerve.

“I mean, [in] ‘76, I cut my finger off and was told I’d never play a guitar again,” he adds. “When I was 59 I had a mini-stroke, and that paralyzed my left side, and I thought I’d never play again. So I have overcome them and I’ve got another battle on my hands. I’ve done it three times, so it’ll be the third time lucky. It’s not going to beat me as yet. I’m just going to keep going till I can’t.”

Thankfully, medication is helping Oliver to continue playing, “I am on medication, and I went to jam night last week,” he explains. “I did a gig in Lancaster with Oliver’s Army, which is the band [name] we’re using now, and I did really well. Because before I had to concentrate on my left hand to make it work properly, whereas [last week] I was playing things I hadn’t played for a couple of years.”

Listen to the podcast episode below:

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