Michael Demers (centre), lead singer of Roy Orbison tribute band The Lonely, died May 1 after a year-long battle with leukemia. (Photo courtesy thelonely.ca)

Michael Demers (centre), lead singer of Roy Orbison tribute band The Lonely, died May 1 after a year-long battle with leukemia. (Photo courtesy thelonely.ca)

Victoria music community mourning Michael Demers

Veteran singer-songwriter, co-founder of The Lonely dies at 63 due to leukemia

A man whose love for music and performing came in many flavours over the decades has died after a roughly year-long fight with leukemia.

Michael Demers, whose most recent musical success came as the lead singer and guitarist for Roy Orbison tribute act The Lonely, died May 1 at the age of 63.

A passionate supporter of live music in the city who counselled troubled youth professionally for many years and never shied away from a musical adventure, Demers has been remembered this week as someone whose light shone brightly in many areas.

“He gave endless loyalty, compassion and energy to everything he focused on, he never wasted time on negativity and rode through adversities with grace and honour, right until the end,” Benji Duke, who co-founded The Lonely with Demers in 2015, wrote Monday on Facebook.

RELATED STORY: The Lonely singer reaches out and gives back, with online birthday show

Longtime collaborator James Love, a bandmate of Demers’ in the ‘70s/’80s cover band Nuvo Wavo from in the 2000s and before that in the hard-to-categorize Jho Nek Bhone, which also featured Demers’ wife at the time, Jolene, added his own heartfelt tribute:

“I am very, very happy, though, that Michael had the opportunity, at last, to perform for regularly sold out audiences that could see him at his very best. When I saw The Lonely, I was seriously impressed by my friend. Not just a tight, pro band and production, but his actual voice. How he’d managed to work on his voice so that it was far and away the best it’d ever been, was so great to hear.”

Sadly, Nuvo Wavo lost its drummer Alan Crossfield to cancer last July, as Demers was in the early stages of his own treatment.

RELATED STORY: With sold out shows the norm, The Lonely will always have company

Last June, Demers relocated to Vancouver for treatment for leukemia. He was hospitalized for 34 days, undergoing a stem cell and bone marrow transplant along the way. He was hospitalized there in late October for another 34 days, and followed up with outpatient treatment, having his blood tested twice a week into January 2021.

He was optimistic that the transplant went successfully and talked about resuming a busy singing and performing schedule once COVID-19 numbers were low enough to allow for musical gatherings.

Demers is survived by his daughter Soleil, son Paris, partner Erin, his mother and multiple siblings.


 

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