From page 100 of Classic Rock Magazine June 2011
with cancer, it was Watson who suggested the idea of trying a faith healer. Peters agreed, and called a woman recommended by Watson. They talked on the phone, and the faith healer told him she was “seeing green” as they spoke. During this time they never met in person.
Peters had postponed conventional treatment to finish dates he’d already booked in the US. His doctor told him he was a fool. He was, by his own admission, terrified.
“I knew I had to focus on something or I wouldn’t get through those next few months,” he says. “I thought of Lennon wearing his army jacket, and I went down that route: go to war against the illness. I went to an army surplus store and kitted my self out in green fatigues.” He spent six weeks playing city-to-city and wondering if he’d made the biggest mistake of his life. He flew home fearing for his life And then a miracle happened: blood tests showed the disease had reversed. The doctors had no idea what had happened. Neither did Peters.
“I thought the cancer was over then. I felt so lucky and so glad to be alive. It really fuelled the whole of my life from that point on.” Which is why he started to do things for himself. He built up a music and DVD catalogue online, and slowly turned himself into a one-man industry, playing live and releasing exclusive albums to an eager audience long forgotten by any label. He resurrected The Alarm name in 2000, eight years after he’d instituted the yearly Gathering, which brings fans from all over the world to North Wales for a weekend of all things Alarm.
In 2004 he sent one of his songs, 45 RPM , to friends in the media without saying who it was by. The response was emphatic: it was a rabblerousing, dynamic three minutes; people couldn’t help but love it. When they asked who the band was, Peters told them they were some kids called The Poppyfields.
“We told people we managed them, made a fake video and website,” he remembers (the band miming to the song on the video were actually the young Chester punk’n’soul outfit the Wayriders). “It charted, and we went mental. It was like Sixty Eight Guns all over again. Then the story broke that we’d made the whole thing up. We had CBS fly in and film us for Dan Rather (the famous American TV news anchor) in the US. It was huge. And now there’s going to be a film made about it [ Vinyl , starring Phil Daniels]. It gave us a new lease of life.”
Sometimes, though, life is too good to be true. In 2006 Peters’s cancer returned.
“My doctors said that I’d probably had the same thing 10 years ago, as it’s a very similar disease to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” he says. “What I have, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, has only really been recognised in more recent times.” Despite – or maybe because of – his illness, he keeps moving. After being diagnosed for the second time he founded the cancer charity Love Hope Strength Foundation. In October 2007, Peters and 38 other musicians, including Squeeze’s Glen Tilbrook, and Slim Jim Phantom of the Stray Cats, played a charity show at Mount Everest base camp – the highest concert ever to have taken place on land. He works hard, too. As well as The Alarm and his parallel solo career, he joined the recently reactivated Big Country, replacing the late Stuart Adamson as singer.
“Mike has a light that shines through him, and most folks who are lucky enough to spend time with him pick up on its positive radiations,” says Billy Duffy. “At least that’s been my experience.” To hear it, Peters is shining still.
“I’m all about going with the positives and trying things, given all that has happened,” he says. “We are defined by the choices we make in life. It’s not an outcome; you take your chances.” The Alarm tour the UX in May (see p127). The Sound And The Fury is out 6 June.