My name is Gail Ann Dorsey. I am a singer/songwriter/composer/bass guitarist. I also happen to love writing, and helping my friends. That is why I did not hesitate when my friend Catherine Ashton asked if I would initiate this GoFundMe campaign to help her and her family in a time of dire need… Yes, I love writing, but this is a topic, a situation, a reality that I really wish I could have avoided ever spelling out in words.
Chapter 1: John Ashton has cancer.
The Back Story…
The first time I met John, and at the time his soon-to-be-wife, Catherine was in 1993. I had just started spending time in the Woodstock area as a visitor. I was still living in London, England where I had been living for 11 years prior to my eventually relocating to the Hudson Valley in 1994, and settling in Uptown Kingston where I have put down roots since 1996. I had plans set in motion to return to The States from the UK, but wasn’t sure exactly where I wanted to live. John was next door neighbours with bassist Sara Lee (B-52’s, Indigo Girls, Gang Of Four), who is one of my closest and dearest friends, and how I discovered and ended up coming to live in this creative and progressive community. I remember thinking how cool that the bass player from The B-52’s was living right next door to the guitarist from The Psychedelic Furs! Surely, this must be the place to be if you’re a musician in The United States!
I attended John and Catherine's wedding in 1993 on one of my visits to Woodstock (I even have a bunch of home videos of the event!), and since that time they have turned out to be two of the kindest, most loving, and loyal friends I could ever wish to have.
In 2007, their first child, Oliver, was born. The Great “REVILO”! A sweet little genius that I’m certain will contribute something truly wonderful to this world. I mean, I can remember this little thinker reading War and Peace when he was 10 years old! Then came their second child, Tallulah, in 2010. A spirited little beauty with the biggest, warmest heart, and smarts to boot! I call her “Lady T.”! The kids have called me “Auntie Gail” since they were able to speak, and I can tell you, it fills me with joy to see their drawings on my refrigerator everyday!
John is also a much loved "Grandfather"! I met his first born child, daughter Sophie, when she was around 9 years old and visiting the USA from Ireland to attend her father's wedding to Catherine. Sophie is John's daughter from a previous union and has lived her entire life in Ireland where she is now a mother with five children of her own! ~ From left to right in the photo below, Baby Lexi, Sophie, Chloe, Luke, (Uncle) Oliver, Conor, Mia and (Aunt) Tallulah!
I have only once had a chance to see Sophie with her children when they came to New York for a visit a few years ago. The family "Love-Fest" was unmistakeable when I met them all for a classic "American Diner" breakfast experience in Kingston. It goes without saying how much John's grand kids would like the chance to spend many, many more years getting to know their super cool Grand Dad, and without question, that wish, and that pray runs both ways...
John has one sister back in the UK who is also praying for John's speedy recovery. Margaret "Mags" Stocks, and John's nephew and twin nieces, Jonny, Lizzie and Sarah, have already had to face the horrible tragedy of losing a loved one to this awful disease when she lost her husband and their father Dean to lung cancer in June of 2018.
Born in London, England in 1957, John Ashton has been a permanent US resident and member of the Hudson Valley community since 1991. He fell in love with The Catskills in 1982 when his band spent 6 weeks recording their classic ‘Forever Now’ album with producer Todd Rundgren. John is one of the original guitarists and songwriters of one of the most well-known, influential, and highly acclaimed British bands of the 20th Century, The Psychedelic Furs; a band that gave the world such classic gems as “Heaven”, “Love My Way”, “The Ghost In You” and of course “Pretty In Pink”. Although John has not been an active member of The Furs for some time now, he has remained active and in love with music. His musical history as guitarist/producer includes projects with Sisters Of Mercy and Marianne Faithful, as well as collaborations with fellow local bands like Mercury Rev.
Together, John and I worked with some of our local youth aspiring musicians conducting songwriting and various music workshops for ‘School Of Rock’ founder Paul Green, who helped established the still active and thriving ‘Rock Academy’ of Woodstock. In 2016, John wrote, produced, and recorded an album of brand new material under the name Satellite Paradiso; a bold and classic “rock” album in the true sense of the tradition with an awesome line up of musicians, including bassist Sara Lee, vocalist Fred Schreck, and drummer Frank Coleman, as well as guests musicians from Mercury Rev, Anthony Molina, Grasshopper, and Jonathan Donahue, to name a few… and of course, yours truly also appearing on bass and vocals on a few tunes! ;-)
As most can imagine, unless you are exploding on the streaming charts, or out touring “on the road” for six months a year (or perhaps even more!), supporting a family as a musician is becoming increasingly more difficult and uncertain—especially in these pandemic times! To supplement the pay check-to-pay check income that still remains from John’s musical endeavours, he has been working in the film industry since 1998. This employment has been a reliable solution for keeping John and his family afloat, while still affording him the opportunity to continue to work at what he loves and does best, music.
Now, it all must stop.
The Present Scenario…
On June 8th of this year John was diagnosed with Stage 4 Prostate Cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes, therefore making treatment more challenging. Surgery is not an option. He has just begun what will be an indefinite series of treatments involving radiation, hormone therapies, and possibly access to clinical trials through Sloan Kettering in New York City. Most health insurance policies for the average person are often never enough to cover the unexpected and inevitable snowballing expenses in situations such as this.
For a condition like John’s we already know that the costs of his treatments will be overwhelming and astronomical. Starting now, John will also be unable to continue working on a regular basis, and there is no safety net to realistically support or break an approaching financial fall. He has already weakened his condition and stretched himself thin continuing to show up for work up until this point. For John, all exertions, stresses, and worries must be minimized, if not eliminated for the critical months ahead. He needs help to support his family, keep his home, keep is dignity, and pay for any unfortunate surprises that health insurance may not cover. The Ashton Family needs financial help to nurse and comfort their state of mind… one of the most important factors in the healing process that faces this family.
Love My Way…
It never feels quite appropriate to me to equate love with money, but in unfortunate and stressful circumstances like this, where your donations, however big or small, can help alleviate the current and looming financial burdens on John and his family, I can think of no better way to express your love and compassion. Healing requires not only what takes place physically, but just as important, if not more so, a mental and emotional state that is calm, focused, and free of stress. The ominous clouds of consequences that persistently hover above, threatening to rain, are the last thing the Ashton Family needs to contend with while entering a battle with such a formidable foe as cancer. I want to see my friends free of those fears and worries. Most of all, I want to see my friend John embarking on his mission to regain his health and well-being with all of the physical, mental, and emotion ammunition he can muster, and all fear of potential worldly ruin laid to rest. This is what ALL human beings deserve in times of an unavoidable health crisis. The unexpected arrival of illness should never have such a hefty price tag. Unfortunately, that is often not the reality that faces a person with serious illness in the United States. The cost of care itself can become an additional crippling affliction.
So, here we are.
Human Being Lovers. Music Lovers. Lovers of Family and Friendships. I humbly ask you to please help my friend John Ashton and his family get through this harrowing and uncertain chapter of their lives if you are able. Your donation is the way to show your love... Love this way... Please spread the word… I Thank You… I Pray…
… I desperately want to write a happy ending to this story…