Elvis Costello receives aggressive cancer diagnosis

Elvis Costello receives aggressive cancer diagnosis


norman lebrecht

July 06, 2018

The pop singer who has dabbled successfully in para-classical music and recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, has received some grave news. He has cancelled a summer tour to undergo surgery.

Six weeks ago my specialist called me and said, ‘You should start playing the Lotto’. He had rarely, if ever, seen such a small but very aggressive cancerous malignancy that could be defeated by a single surgery….Therefore, I must reluctantly cancel all the remaining engagements of this tour.


We send him good wishes and prayers.


  • Dominic Stafford says:

    I hope he’ll be OK. I had a couple of very brief but nice chats with him when he came to Haitink’s Ring at CG in the early 90s.

    Anyone who can write songs like this deserves all the best of British luck: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aU_zMvaX05Q

  • Yes Addison says:

    Hear, hear, Dominic. I hope he has many more years to add to an impressive body of work. And of course, musical matters aside, he’s also a father of three, with twin boys only eleven.

    His memoir of a few years ago is one of the most elegantly written (and not ghostwritten) we’re going to get from any kind of musician of our time, let alone someone best known for pop and rock.

  • barry guerrero says:

    I’ve never much cared for his music, but I certainly wish him All The Best! I’m more a fan of his wife’s music, Diana Krall. They have twin boys, so I certainly hope everything turns out well.

  • V.Lind says:

    I know very little of Elvis Costello’s work, but am reliably informed that he is a real musician and a master in the areas he has chosen to work in. In any case, this is a sad story for a young man and I wish him all the best.

    But I am intrigued by the term “para-classical.” Knowing the general detestation for “crossover” around here, I would be fascinated if you would illuminate what you mean by this term. As I said, I do not know Mr. Costello’s work. Can you direct me to some in this genre?

    • Yes Addison says:

      V. Lind: He wrote and recorded a song cycle with the Brodsky Quartet, The Juliet Letters, and they toured with it in the ’90s. It has since been recorded or performed live by several others, in whole or in part. Below, his friend Anne Sofie von Otter with Brooklyn Rider in the final song of the cycle. I hope the clip isn’t geo-blocked.


      Tilson-Thomas and the LSO recorded his ballet suite Il Sogno on DG. And he played a role in a contemporary opera called Welcome to the Voice, which mixed pop performers with classical performers. At various times, Bonney, Roocroft, Todorovitch, Yoncheva and other familiar names sang the female roles. There is more, but those are examples of what Norman meant.

    • Cyril Blair says:

      He’s not actually a “young man” – he’s 63.

  • Cyril Blair says:

    Best wishes for a full recovery for him. He’s one of the few pop singers whose music I’ve always liked.

  • Caravaggio says:

    I don’t know this man’s music and will not investigate it. Still, I wish him a full recovery and many more years of good health. But Deutsche Grammophon had no business recording this pop rock performer. Classical music has no need for impostors.

  • Chris Basten says:

    Caravaggio, You are a pompous ass. I like Elvis Costello’s’ work and wish him a speedy and full recovery.

  • Nik says:

    Mr Costello has since clarified that he did not in fact have cancer.