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Sub Pop Co-Founder Jonathan Poneman Has Parkinson's

'As ironic as it sounds, I am truly grateful to the disease'

June 4, 2013 10:15 AM ET
Jonathan Poneman
Jonathan Poneman
AP Photo/ho/Charles Peterson

Jonathan Poneman, who co-founded Sub Pop with Bruce Pavitt and helped bring seminal Seattle acts like Nirvana and Mudhoney to the world, has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, The Seattle Times reports.

In an interview with the newspaper, Poneman said that he began slowing down and having trouble with his right hand a few years ago. It was only after a radiologist friend asked him directly about his health that Poneman realized, "I can't deny this anymore."

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The diagnosis, Poneman says, brought both "a sigh of relief," as well as some anxiety and fear about what the future might hold. "You have these morbid thoughts," Poneman said. "Then you realize that if things are going to go away, they are not going to go away immediately."

Since the diagnosis, Poneman has found a renewed sense of purpose, discovering a new sense of spirituality, being mindful of the people around him and marrying longtime girlfriend Magdalena Panak. "As ironic as it sounds, I am truly grateful to the disease," he said.

The label head has hardly let up at Sub Pop either, where he's set up a stationary bike in his office in lieu of a chair – exercise can help quell Parkinson's symptoms without side effects – and is still going to concerts and festivals, though as he jokingly pointed out: "I am less inclined to go up front, because I am a human bowling pin."

He's also helping organize Sub Pop's 25th anniversary celebration, a free festival dubbed the "Silver Jubilee," which will take place in Georgetown, Washington, on July 13th. Amid music from acts like Mudhoney, J Mascis and Father John Misty, there will be a booth seeking donations for the Northwest Parkinson's Foundation. "I accept that I have this disease,” Poneman said, "but that doesn’t give me the right to be passive."

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