Bloomfield TownshipJuly 9, 2008
Family keeps Spencer Bell's musical legacy on 'Earth'
By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — A year and a half after young musician Spencer Bell died of adrenal cancer, his family and friends are doing their part to wipe the disease off the face of the earth.
Loved ones and music enthusiasts will honor the memory of Spencer Bell with a second annual charity concert in Ferndale Aug. 10. The concert, titled “Return to Earth,” will raise more money for the University of Michigan Adrenal Cancer Program.
Spencer’s father, Bill, said the event would be a fitting tribute to his son, who died suddenly in December 2006 at age 20.
“As with anyone who passes, it’s up to us to remember and honor the life,” Bill said. “I think that’s being done exceedingly well by a lot of people.”
Last year, the Bell family held a similar concert named “A One in a Million Night” in Royal Oak. The event drew more than 750 people and raised almost $70,000 with the help of a silent auction.
The scheduled acts of “Return to Earth” include The Christy Howard Band, Tin Tin Can and The Stevedores, the band that Spencer used to lead. Concertgoers may also buy a CD of Spencer’s music called “Feudal, Brutal & the American Dream.”
The album, which is Spencer’s first solo one, features a variety of original songs ranging from the beautiful to the harsh and dark, Bill said. He added that Spencer left behind enough recorded music to put together one or two more projects.
“I’m constantly going through his journals and organizing his art, lyrics and poems in such a way as to allow myself and others to see the evolution of some of his songs,” Bill said.
Building a legacy
Family and friends describe Spencer, a graduate of Lahser High School, as a renaissance man who wrote songs, performed, and filled journals with poetry and sketches. He was living in Wisconsin with his band, The Stevedores, when he began feeling severe pain before Thanksgiving in 2006.
When he went to the hospital, doctors found a 7 1/2 inch tumor in his abdomen that had spread cancer to his other organs. Doctors guessed that Spencer had adrenal cancer for three to five years before he died, even though he didn’t feel any symptoms during that time.
Since his death, his family has raised more than $80,000 to fight adrenal cancer. It is waiting to reach the $100,000 mark so it can create a permanent endowment in Spencer’s name through U-M.
Spencer’s mother, Cathy, said she has been talking to activists throughout the country, and she attended an adrenal cancer symposium early this year. An endowment in Spencer’s name would produce meaning out of a horrendous event, she said.
“I believe that for his name to live on … he can be remembered in a positive light and make a difference,” she said.
Bill said the family thinks of Spencer every day and still keeps in touch with some of his old friends. “Several are musicians themselves and often tell us how Spencer influenced them to pursue their own sound and style without hesitation or self-consciousness,” the father said.
Though it has been impossible so far, Bill said he still wants to fulfill his son’s dying wish, which is to have his ashes thrown into the depths of the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench. In the meantime, the concert must go on.
“From the beginning, the first and foremost mission for us was to ensure that Spencer’s music, poems and art would live on,” he said.
The Spencer Bell “Return to Earth” Concert will be at The Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., in Ferndale Aug. 10. The doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and the concert will begin at 7 p.m. Admission is $20.
- Last 24 Hours
- Last 7 Days
- Last 30 Days
- Woman found dead in Warren home - Warren
- Former Birmingham mayor arrested again on meth charges - Birmingham
- Business owner slain outside restaurant - Harper Woods
- City purse snatcher still at large - Grosse Pointe City
- Community rallies for Shelby boy with brain cancer - Shelby Township
- Former Berkley mayor offers to repair clock she donated to city - Berkley
- Helping Hands for Hunger food drive helps Norup students - Oak Park
- Missing woman found dead - West Bloomfield
- All in the family - Clinton Township
- Christmas Wonderfest brings holiday wonder to Novi - Metro Detroit
- Premature birth rates decline in Michigan for sixth year - Metro Detroit
- Looking Back: 1920s Coolidge Highway - Berkley
- Lieutenant promoted to Deputy Police Chief - St. Clair Shores
- Looking Back: Warren Co-op - Warren
- Shelby boy battles rare form of cancer - Shelby Township
- Lions Thanksgiving halftime show spotlights WLC band, cheer teams - Walled Lake
- Macomb Home Depot creates college scholarship in honor of deceased employee - Macomb Township
- East Detroit student dies following pool accident - Eastpointe
- Attorney dies in Harper Avenue crash - St. Clair Shores
- CVHS students to stage production of ‘Hairspray’ - Clinton Township
- Looking Back: Selinsky-Green Farmhouse c. 1898 - St. Clair Shores
- Sterling woman hurt in shooting - Sterling Heights
- Christmas comes to the Shores - St. Clair Shores
- County board considers regional water authority proposal - Macomb County
- Shelby boy battles rare form of cancer
- BHS Orchestra selected to perform at Carnegie Hall
- Lions Thanksgiving halftime show spotlights WLC band, cheer teams
- Macomb Home Depot creates college scholarship in honor of deceased employee
- Child prodigy becomes youngest artist exhibited at Park West Gallery
- All in the family
- Christmas Wonderfest brings holiday wonder to Novi