Spirit of the West's John Mann, 57, dies after battle with Alzheimer's

Canadian music icon John Mann has died at age 57.

Mann, whose career spanned nearly 40 years, was best known as the frontman of the folk rock band Spirit of the West. He died peacefully with friends and family in Vancouver on Wednesday. 

"His songs, and his lyrics particularly, will be remembered for generations," said Vince Ditrich, the band's drummer and manager.  

"He had such a gift for finding the universal in the every day."

The band, from North Vancouver, was particularly popular in the 1980s and '90s for their Celtic-influenced alternative rock. The band was active from 1983 to 2016.

"John was so powerful and so charismatic," said Ditrich about Mann's on-stage performances. "I don't know if I've ever known anyone as charismatic."

Mann had battled early-onset Alzheimer's disease since 2014 and spoke publicly about his struggles. 

He was diagnosed in his early 50s, while in remission for colorectal cancer. 

"He was graceful under the most dreadful of circumstances," said Ditrich. "John was very kind, very gentle and very wise."

As well as being a renowned songwriter and musician, Mann was a potent force in acting — on stage, in movies and on television. 

"His work will resound long after his untimely passing," his publicist Eric Alper said in a statement. 

Mann is survived by his wife, Jill Daum, and grown children Harlan and Hattie.

A private memorial service will be held later. 

Mann, top, poses with members of the band Spirit of the West in a file photo, including drummer Vince Ditrich, centre front. (Suzanne Strojwons/The Canadian Press)

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