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John Mann (1962–2019), lead singer of Spirit of the West

Getty Images / Martyn Goodacre

The Canadian alt-rock band's hits include “Political” and “And if Venice Is Sinking”

John Mann was the lead singer of Spirit of the West, a Canadian alternative rock band that had its biggest success in the 1990s with hits including “Political” and “And if Venice Is Sinking.” In addition to fronting the Celtic-influenced Spirit of the West, Mann was the band’s lead guitarist and co-songwriter, and he had a solo career with three albums released in the 2000s and 2010s. Also an actor, Mann appeared in movies including “Underworld: Evolution” and “The Chronicles of Riddick” and had guest spots on TV shows including “Battlestar Galactica,” “Stargate SG-1,” and “Smallville.”

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Died: November 20, 2019 (Who else died on November 20?)

Details of death: Died at home in Vancouver, British Columbia of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 57.


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“Home for a Rest”: Spirit of the West’s 1990 song “Home for a Rest,” co-written by Mann, was never released as a single, but it has become a popular party anthem in Canada, frequently heard on college campuses during frosh week and at wedding receptions. The band made it their signature song, closing out concerts with the fan favorite. “Home for a Rest” has been included in lists of top Canadian songs of all time.

What people said about him: “So sad John Mann of Vancouver’s Spirit of the West has died at 57 from early onset Alzheimer’s. As a youngster, I taught fellow travelers the words to “Home for a Rest” in London pubs, at South African braii’s, and on Brazilian beaches. Thank you John.” —Vancouver Fire Chief Darrell Reid

“John Mann Spirit of the West you were such a brilliant, good soul! God speed! Well done brother!” —Musician Tom Cochrane

“Very sad to hear about John Mann. He was a beautiful, mischievous dude with a deep gift as a performer. His eyes held a long tunnel of light, and he shared it generously with all who came in his orbit. Canada is lesser and Venice has sunk.” —Musician Dave Bidini

Full obituary: Times Colonist

Related lives:

  • Gord Downie (1965–2017), frontman for beloved Canadian rock band the Tragically Hip
  • Leonard Cohen (1934–2016), legendary Canadian-born singer-songwriter
  • Jeff Healey (1966–2008), blind rock and jazz musician from Toronto