Social Distortion's Mike Ness Reveals He Has Tonsil Cancer

"We think that life is going to go according to our plan, but it has a way of saying, 'I don’t think so!' " the lead vocalist and guitarist wrote on Instagram

Mike Ness of Social Distortion
Mike Ness of Social Distortion

Mike Ness, the lead singer and guitarist for iconic Orange County punk band Social Distortion, revealed Wednesday that he has tonsil cancer.

Ness, 61, shared the diagnosis on Instagram, where he said that his surgery and recovery will require Social Distortion to postpone their summer tour, as well as their anticipated eighth album.

“We think that life is going to go according to our plan, but it has a way of saying “I don’t think so!” Ness wrote.

“In the midst of pre-production, I was diagnosed with stage one tonsil cancer. I was feeling well enough to continue with recording in the studio up until the very day before surgery. The band and I were so inspired and excited to lay down these tracks.”

While Ness notes that his prognosis is good, he adds that “the recovery from surgery is a day-by-day process and in three weeks we start radiation and that should be the last therapy I need. The team of doctors are certain that once finished with this course, I will be able to start the healing and recovery process. We expect a full recovery enabling me to live a long and productive life.”

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Although Social Distortion’s upcoming album is their first studio album since 2011’s Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes, the band is a mainstay on the road. Ness noted his disappointment in postponing the band’s upcoming tour with fellow California punk rockers The Bellrays.

“It breaks my heart to postpone the Summer Tour, and this album release, but time is required to heal,” he wrote on Instagram. “I can’t thank our loyal fans enough who have been waiting so patiently for this. While it will take a little longer-I promise you that it will be delivered and it will exceed your expectations.”

<p>Tim Mosenfelder/Getty</p> Mike Ness of Social Distortion

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty

Mike Ness of Social Distortion

Ness’s emotional statement continued, adding, “I want you all to know that this has opened my eyes to a whole new struggle. I know it’s one that many of you or your loved ones have personally endured, and my heart goes out to you-because I now know what it’s like from this heavy experience. I’m surrounded by love and support from my friends and family ESPECIALLY my lovely wife and incredible boys (oh and don’t forget my 3 dogs and kitty) THANK YOU ALL in advance to our unbelievable fans for YOUR love and support right now. ♥️”

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He concluded, “We WILL get through this….”

Social Distortion formed in the late ‘70s in Fullerton, Calif., a punk epicenter that was also the hometown of Gwen Stefani, whose then-unknown band No Doubt often played in town. While the band remained largely under the pop culture radar, their best-known song, 1990’s “Story of My Life,” was memorably included in several movies, including Reality Bites and The Break-Up,

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Ness’s post was shared to Social Distortion’s official Instagram, and prompted a flood of well-wishes from fellow punk bands and performers like Bad Religion, Flogging Molly, and Chuck Ragan, who commented, “Sending all the strong vibes Mike. Keep pushing brother. We love you.”

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