Benefits Aid Ailing Escovedo

Fastball, Gourds members play to help pay medical bills

June 25, 2003 12:00 AM ET

A string of benefits are being planned to help singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo pay his medical bills. Escovedo collapsed after a show April 26th in Phoenix and has since been diagnosed with advanced cirrhosis of the liver, a complication of Hepatitis C.

This week the Continental Club, in Escovedo's hometown of Austin, Texas, will host a pair of benefits featuring Miles Zuniga of Fastball, Kevin Russell of the Gourds, Jon Dee Graham, Beaver Nelson and David Garza, with additional shows being planned at clubs in Chicago, Seattle, San Diego and North Carolina.

Garza toured with Escovedo in 2001 as part of a trio with pedal steel player Eric Heywood. "Although Alejandro is twenty years my senior, I always refer to him with affection as 'the son I never had,'" says Garza. "With regards to the Austin music scene, what Bo Diddley is to rock & roll, what Baudelaire is to French dandies -- so is Alejandro Escovedo to Austin music. I call him Bo Diddliaire."

Escovedo feels like he's turned a corner of late, with the low point coming during his weeklong stay in an Arizona hospital last month, which included an emergency transfusion after his blood pressure began to dwindle. "They gave me two pints of blood and I began to come back," he says, "but I was really slipping away. It was very close."

In the time since, Escovedo has been resting and treating his illness with a mixture of Eastern and Western medicine, taking Chinese herbs, American pills and once a month making the 300 mile drive north from his home in Canyon Lake, Texas, to Dallas for blood work.

Like many musicians, Escovedo has no health insurance and his medical bills currently tally about $20,000, a figure his manager calls the "tip of the iceberg" given the treatments and medications to come.

"The doctors are hoping that Interpheron [a Hep C treatment] and a combination of drugs will take," Escovedo says. "If they don't, they'll discontinue the procedure and try another one. Hopefully it won't end up being a liver transplant."

Prior to his collapse, Escovedo had begun work on a new album with producer Chris Stamey (Whiskeytown, Yo La Tengo), but the record is on the backburner and Escovedo has cancelled all performances for the rest of the year. "I've been resting more than anything," he says.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Bleeding Love”

Leona Lewis | 2007

In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

More Song Stories entries »