Johnny Lee isn’t about to let anything stand in the way of making music, including Parkinson’s disease. The 74-year-old just released his latest album, Everything’s Gonna Be Alright, which he recorded even amid his health struggles.
“[Parkinson’s disease] has really affected my walking and I think it has affected my speech in some sort,” Lee tells People. “I don’t really know anything about it, and I don’t want to know anything about it. I guess it kills you. But people live a long life with it. So, I just don’t want to know a thing about it. I just don’t want to know.”
Included on Everything’s Gonna Be Alright is “Take Me Back to Texas,” a song he has wanted to record for years, but never has, until now.
“I heard Lee Ann Womack sing it on a show years ago and it just really hit me,” Lee recalls. “So, when I found out they weren’t going to release it, I was all over it. I cut the hell out of it. I love that song.”
The song, about someone nearing the end of their life, felt especially poignant to Lee, which is why he had time recording the song in the studio.
“Yeah, I cried,” he admitted. “The first couple of takes, I was really having trouble keeping it together. But then, I was just like, ‘OK Johnny, snap out of it. You gotta sing this song.’ My brothers heard it and they tell me it feels like I’m leaving a message for them.”
With all of his health challenges, which includes two brain surgeries due to Parkinson’s, the singer could have every reason to not make more music, but for Lee, that was never an option.
“I’m going to sing until I die,” Lee maintains. “I like to keep my band working. I’m fortunate that I still get to do this stuff. I look forward to going out singing. I don’t look forward sitting on a stool while I am singing.”
The Texas native could also have plenty of justification for occasional bouts of self-pity, but he’s too busy focusing on everything he is thankful for to spend much time feeling sorry for himself.
“I don’t have any bad days, because every day is a gift,” Lee says. “A lot of my friends have had bad days, so I say prayers for them. But as far as I am concerned, every day on this side of the divot is a blessing.”
“I’m just thankful that the music is left behind,” he adds. “I feel like this album will forever show fans the real Johnny Lee.”
Purchase Everything’s Gonna Be Alright at JohnnyLeeMusic.com.