Swedish keyboardist Jens Johansson of multi-national melodic metallers STRATOVARIUS has issued the following update:
"Dear STRATOVARIUS fans, I am afraid we have some quite terrible news. News of the worst imaginable kind. It's about our friend and [German] drummer Jörg Michael [STRATOVARIUS].
"Jörg has cancer.
"He recently discovered a lump on his neck, went to the doctor, they decided to operate, and found what they call 'a malignant thyroid neoplasm.' They took out his whole thyroid just to have the best chance to get everything out. He will also have to undergo a regimen of radiotherapy.
"He is a fighter. We have all talked to him and it's clear that this guy is not down for the count. He and his team of German doctors are pissed off and ready to kick ass, and I would not want to be a little cancer cell on these guys' shit list.. believe me.
"Jörg and his family (and us guys in the band) found this out only last week, after the operation. Naturally we are all going between a lot of emotions, sadness, worry, shock, confusion, even anger.
"As for STRATOVARIUS, as you perhaps know, there is a long tour coming up with HELLOWEEN, and with the surgery and therapy that will now follow there is no way Jörg can do the first part of the tour. For me personally, I at first felt quite hopeless about the tour, because I was so upset about all this news. But Jörg himself has been extremely clear that he does not want the band to cancel a single show because of this. In the end, this is what made at least me feel better about going back hitting the road next week.
"So, we have debated what to do for many days now. Jörg first suggested my brother Anders to do this November-December 2010 leg, but it turns out Anders will, unfortunately, be busy recording some record or other with that little indie cellar band of his called HAMMERFALL. :o)
"After a lot of searching, we found a guy that both can do it and didn't have other commitments: Alex Landenburg [AT VANCE, ANNIHILATOR, MEKONG DELTA]. He plays well, Jörg says he is a great guy (very important!) and he even started learning the set already before we even had decided what to do, which to me shows a lot of dedication. You can Google Alex's name if you are curious.
"So it turns out that STRATOVARIUS will do the first leg of the HELLOWEEN '7 Sinners' tour, just as planned, only not with Jörg behind the kit, but with Jörg very much as a motivator to us being there. Not one single date will be cancelled or changed.
"Jörg wants to be back on the road with us again as soon as possible depending on the thearapy, but we are not making any promises; that one is up to powers even higher than Jörg Michael and his doctors.
"We will try to keep you somewhat updated.
"Anyway, the most important thing is that they think they got all the bad stuff out and that the end result is that we just fix that sentence I wrote above. We will then say: Jörg had cancer. But he beat it."
STRATOVARIUS's thirteenth full-length studio album, "Elysium", will be released in Asia on January 12, 2011 via JVC and in the rest of the world on January 14, 2011 through earMUSIC/Edel. A single with two new songs will be released on November 26 to coincide with the start of the "7 Sinners World Tour" on which STRATOVARIUS will join HELLOWEEN as very special guests — kicking off the same day at the Szene in Vienna, Austria.
STRATOVARIUS' first CD since the departure of guitar player and main composer Timo Tolkki, "Polaris" was released in the U.S. in May 2009 via Armoury Records (a division of Eagle Rock Entertainment).
STRATOVARIUS 2010 is:
Timo Kotipelto - Vocals
Matias Kupiainen - Guitars
Lauri Porra - Bass
Jörg Michael - Drums
Jens Johansson - Keyboards