New MERCYFUL FATE Bassist BECKY BALDWIN Opens Up About Suffering From Prosopagnosia, Or 'Face Blindness'

March 1, 2024

New MERCYFUL FATE bassist Becky Baldwin has opened up about her battle with prosopagnosia, a condition where her brain can't recognize faces or facial expressions in spite of having normal vision. This can make it hard for her to recognize the faces of familiar coworkers, friends or even close loved ones.

Although there are no comprehensive estimates of how prevalent face blindness is, some studies suggest that between 2% and 2.5% of the population is born with congenital prosopagnosia.

Earlier today (Friday, March 1),Becky took to her social media to write: "Face blindness affects about 1 in 50 people. At first I noticed that I struggled understanding films when two actors had similar hair colours, because I assumed I was seeing the same person every time. I thought I was just disinterested in Hollywood celebrities and that's why I could rarely recognise anyone famous. But I guess over time, with the nature of my work meeting a lot of people, with sometimes years between seeing them... I started to realise this was a problem that I have that is much worse than other people around me.

"It is probably weird meeting me in person, you don't know what you're going to get. You might get a lot of vague questions where I'm desperately trying to place you. You might get a look of bewilderment, which I swear isn't a reflection on you, it's just me trying to process a situation that I'm terrible at. You might also get an over-the-top friendly and familiar attitude, because I'm wondering if we've met a dozen times and I just can't get my brain to recognise you, and I don't like to come off as cold and disinterested (which is a criticism I get a lot). Or maybe, I'll remember you and it's totally fine!

"It doesn't mean I can't recognise anybody, it's just faces, so I might meet someone only once but remember the bass they played, so if I see them with that bass again I know them. Sometimes I remember a unique make up or hair style, or clothing. Of course I can remember people I see regularly, or celebrities or people I follow online if their faces come up a lot on my social media. However, if someone makes a big change in their appearance, it's really hard for me to adjust. Many times in my life when people close to me have changed their style, my subconscious can't make sense of it. I feel myself missing someone who is still there, and it takes a while to settle into the fact that this isn't a completely new person I'm now hanging out with.

"So, 1 in 50 people, that's thousands of you guys following this page, but I've so rarely heard people talk about it. So I thought I'd share my experience, maybe some of you can relate, and others can understand the real experience. Thanks for reading! #faceblindness #prosopagnosia".

Less than two years ago, Brad Pitt opened up about his struggle with prosopagnosia, telling GQ that some think he's remote, aloof, inaccessible or self-absorbed because he can't remember them.

Becky's addition to MERCYFUL FATE as a permanent member was announced in January. The Birmingham, England-based musician previously toured with MERCYFUL FATE in the fall of 2022 as the temporary replacement for Joey Vera who was unable to make the dates due to a scheduled conflict with his longtime group ARMORED SAINT.

After playing the piano as a child, Becky picked up the bass guitar as a teenager and began performing with bands at school. In 2009 she moved from Trowbridge to Bristol to study at BIMM Bristol and became closely involved in Bristol's music scene. Becky holds a BA Honours degree in Professional Musicianship and now lives in the birthplace of heavy metal — Birmingham, U.K.

Becky is an energetic live performer and efficient recording musician who specializes in fingerstyle bass guitar playing, and rock and metal genres. Since 2012, Becky has performed approximately 100 gigs per year, offering her skills for a wide variety of bands (including covers and original bands, genres ranging from metal to folk, urban, funk, pop, jazz and more.) Music has taken Becky all over Europe and into the USA for touring and recording sessions.

Becky is a co-founder of specialist private tuition company Bristol Rock Centre, which runs a teaching and rehearsal studio in Mangotsfield. She has aided exam board Rockschool in the writing and proofing of tuition/exam books including "Let's Rock Bass", the "Popular Music Theory" collection and the 2014 Vocal syllabus. She has led workshops with Bristol Rock Centre and Rockschool, and has given lectures at BIMM Bristol, ACM Birmingham and Access Creative College. Becky has received tuition from top musicians such as Stuart Clayton (CARL PALMER band),Damon Minchella (OCEAN COLOUR SCENE, PAUL WELLER) and Jim Barr (PORTISHEAD, GET THE BLESSING).

Earlier in January, it was revealed that MERCYFUL FATE and Vera had "mutually" decided to part ways.

In 2019, it was announced Vera would be replacing Hansen for the band's summer 2020 European festival appearances due to Hansen's cancer diagnosis. Hansen passed away in November 2019 and MERCYFUL FATE's 2020 summer festival appearances were rescheduled for 2021, and then to 2022.

MERCYFUL FATE's North American tour, which featured support from by KREATOR and MIDNIGHT, followed the band's headlining performance at the 2022 edition of Psycho Las Vegas.

MERCYFUL FATE is currently working on a new album and recently gave fans a taste of the new material when they debuted a song called "The Jackal Of Salzburg" in Germany in June 2022 as well as at Psycho Las Vegas. The band's current lineup is rounded out by Mike Wead on guitar and Bjarne T. Holm on drums.

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