January 9, 2024

Tony Clarkin, guitarist, mastermind and main songwriter of the U.K. prog/pomp/AOR rock band MAGNUM, has died at the age of 77. The news of his death comes just weeks after it was announced that he had been diagnosed with a rare and incurable spinal condition. As a result of his diagnosis, MAGNUM canceled its previously announced spring 2024 tour.

Earlier today (Tuesday, January 9),Tony's family released the following statement: "On behalf of the family it is with profound sadness that daughter Dionne Clarkin is sharing the news of the passing of Tony Clarkin. Following a short illness, he died peacefully surrounded by his girls on Sunday 7th January 2024.

"I know that Tony has touched so many people through his music in so many different ways. I don't really have words to express what he meant to me right now as the grief is too fresh.

"As many of you know Tony had a great affinity with animals. It is the family's intention to set up a charitable trust in his name to aid this cause, further details to follow. Please do not send flowers or cards, as he would have much preferred expressions of sympathy to go to charity in this way.

"It was a privilege to call him my Dad."

Olly Hahn, head of Steamhammer, said: "We at SPV/Steamhammer are devastated about the passing of Tony. We can't believe that he's gone. For 22 years the whole team and I had the pleasure to work with him, 22 years of fantastic music, trust and loyalty. We are forever grateful for this. Rest in peace, Tony!"

On December 18, Clarkin released the following message via social media: "I'm afraid I have some bad news for you guys. Over the past year or so I've been bothered by increasingly bad pains in my neck and head. For a long time the docs couldn't work out why, but now they've found out and it's gonna mean some changes.

"I have developed a rare spinal condition. It's not life-limiting, but it can be degenerative in some people, and sadly it's not curable. There are treatments that may help but we don't know how good they'll be.

"With the nature of touring and the weight of electric guitars this means there's no way I would be able to play the scheduled shows in the spring. We've taken the decision to cancel the tour, rather than mess anyone around trying to postpone in the hope things might get better in the short term. Bob [Catley, vocals] didn't feel it would be right doing it with a dep at this time.

"This is not gonna be the end of MAGNUM, but the future might have to be a bit different, so please bear with us while we try and figure out what I can and can't do moving forward.

"I'm really sorry for everyone who'd already bought tickets, it goes without saying that I'm absolutely gutted that I'm not gonna be able to play for you.

"Cheers and I hope I'll be able to see you all again soon."

The rest of MAGNUM added in a separate statement: "We are obviously all extremely upset at this development, especially so close to Christmas. We can't thank you all enough for your support over the years and hope you'll stick with us through this too. We really hope you're all going to love the new album 'Here Comes The Rain' out on the 12th January 2024 and this won't spoil it for you.

"Please everyone contact your ticket reseller for a refund. We'll be back…"

In a December 2023 interview with Friday 13th, just days after Tony's diagnosis was made public, Catley spoke about how he and his bandmates were dealing with Clarkin's health setback. He said: "I've been having a few bad days, actually, if you wanna know the truth, with Tony and everything, and the tour canceling, having to be canceled, because he can't commit to that at this stage. But it's gonna get better soon, whatever they can give him."

Bob continued: "He's got a spinal condition that is quite rare, apparently, and it's been coming on probably since the last time we did some gigs last year, and then we've been recording the new album all through this year, and it's been getting gradually worse for him, and now it's, like, 'Oh.' He can't do anything. So touring, wearing a guitar on stage for nearly two hours and [being on a] tour bus — just the fact that you're on tour is a big no-no at the moment. And we're all, like, 'Oh, Tony.' But, of course, he's gotta heal now somehow, and the future will have to take care of itself. We can't talk about the future. It's way too soon. We just want him to be in a better place and for everybody to be kind and [to] understand his situation. And I know they will be, because they're MAGNUM fans and of course they will be kind and understanding. And I know Facebook's full of it, of sending Tony their best wishes. And it's all up on the Internet, [Tony's] statement there. So just read that, people. And I can't tell you any more than what the statement says."

Added MAGNUM drummer Lee Morris: "Tony will be gutted about the tour. Obviously, we're all very proud of this album. We really wanna get out there and play these songs live for everybody. So I know he's gonna be gutted about it. We just seem to be cursed when it comes to touring. This is the second tour — we had 'The Serpent Rings' tour canceled because of COVID, and now obviously with Tony's medical sort of issue now, it's the second tour which we've had to cancel, so we've done, like, two tours for the last four studio albums.

Bob chimed in: "We've been here before. We're getting déjà vu. I just don't wanna get used to it. This ain't the way it's supposed to be."

Lee continued: "At the day, Tony's health is the most important thing. At the end of the day, he's our captain, he's our friend. We've gotta make sure he's right. And I know Tony's a trooper, and he tried to commit to the tour, but it wouldn't be fair to put him through that. Being on a tour bus and carrying a guitar, it would have just been too much. It's the wise thing to do."

Formed in Birmingham over 50 years ago by Catley and Clarkin, MAGNUM have cemented themselves as one of the U.K.'s finest hard rock exports, a largely American-dominated genre.

With their unique melodic skill and tasteful instrumentation, the group have released 22 studio albums over the years, with their most recent, "The Monster Roars", arriving in 2022 to great critical acclaim.

Photo courtesy of Palmer Turner Overdrive for SPV/Steamhammer

From the Clarkin family:

On behalf of the family it is with profound sadness that daughter Dionne is sharing the news...

Posted by MAGNUM on Tuesday, January 9, 2024

MAGNUM's most recent lineup consisted of Catley, Clarkin, Rick Benton (keys),Dennis Ward (bass) and Morris.

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