Sticking It to MS

Sirhan Sirhan founder/guitarist/vocalist Jason Blackmore used to be in Molly McGuire, a Kansas City band that had one album on Epic.

"We played a leg on the last official Lollapalooza tour in '97," says Blackmore. Molly McGuire morphed into Gunfighter, which Blackmore brought to San Diego when he moved here five years ago. After fellow Missourian drummer Alex Organ moved out late last year, the two started Sirhan Sirhan. Since December, Sirhan Sirhan (Blackmore, Organ, and bassist Mike Johnston) have played a Midwestern tour they booked themselves. Locally, they've played at the Casbah, Epicentre, Scolari's Office, the Ken Club, and the Alibi. But the band has been silent for two months.

"One day in the third week of May, I woke up and my hand felt like it does when it falls asleep," explains Organ. "The numbness and tingling kept progressing. It started moving down my left side. It was obvious something was going on. I went to the hospital. They didn't know what it was...a stroke...HIV..." After six days in the hospital, a battery of tests, and a $25,000 medical bill, Organ was given a tentative diagnosis.

"They were 70 percent sure it was multiple sclerosis," says Organ. Almost two months later, he got the phone call that confirmed the diagnosis.

"There are no specific tests for MS," says Blackmore. "It's diagnosed by process of elimination."

"I can pick up the phone, but I can't tie my shoes," says Organ, who gives himself shots of Copaxone and is concentrating on exercise and a healthy diet. "They say [Copaxone] has a 30 percent chance of warding off a relapse."

Blackmore says the band recently resumed practicing and will eventually play out again.

"We're trying to devise a glove to enable him to hold the stick in his left hand." Until then, they use duct tape. "That's punk rock. We had to find special metal and plastic sticks that won't break because if you break them in the middle of a song, he can't just pick up a new stick."

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