Tim Smith is one of the most influential British musicians alive today. Radiohead, Blur, Napalm Death, Faith No More, Biffy Clyro and countless others have cited Tim and his band, Cardiacs, as a profound inspiration.
He’s also in trouble.
A cardiac arrest suffered in 2008 left him with severe brain damage and a condition called dystonia. Mentally he’s as sharp as ever. His ability to move and speak, however, is minimal. Funding shortfalls and bureaucracy have seen his rehabilitation grind to a halt, along with his ability to make music.
Tim’s condition is complex and poorly understood. He has responded positively to treatment when his income has afforded it. A tribute record, fundraising gigs, reissues of his music and conventions attended by devoted fans have helped. But he is now entering his tenth year of inadequate care. ‘The only way I can try and let you know how I feel at the moment,’ Smith says, ‘is, imagine if you were wearing a skintight bodysuit made of fishnet all around you with electrical pulses going all the…time. This is what my body feels like unless I fall asleep’.
He has resisted publicity up until now, but we, his friends and family, now agree with him that the time has come to go public, with a story of a man’s unique creative world and the severe problems of neuro- rehabilitation.
A charity called the Raphael Hospital Group, run by Dr. Gerhardt Florschutz, has bought the facility Tim lives in and is able to provide him and his fellow patients with the input necessary to make progress. This, of course, comes at a price and while he waits to hear about the possibility of funding, vital time is being wasted. We want to raise £40,000 so that he can finally afford the care he has needed since the beginning of his illness. If we raise more, it will allow him secure funding for a longer period.
Tim’s friends and family just want him to be allowed to try to get better. Everyone in his condition deserves that opportunity. Being given the right treatment could allow him to complete musical projects of great beauty that still burn brightly within him. ‘People who could genuinely be described as geniuses are few and far between,’ says Steven Wilson, who recently hit number 1 in the UK album chart. ‘But I think Tim is up there, I really do.’
If he could recover enough to use a mouse he could make music again; if he can find his voice he will be able to boss us about in the studio; it feels as though he is finally being given a chance to come back to us.