DR BILL’S A ROCK ’N’ ROLL DOCTOR
Not a doctor with a rock ’n’ roll state of mind, but a medical professional that deals with musicians. Bill’s the official doctor for Splendour in the Grass, and he’s seen it all, but unfortunately he’s only allowed to tell you about some of it due to confidentiality.
“I’ve been doing rock ’n’ roll doctoring for 25 years,” Bill tells us backstage. “I was a bodyguard before I became a doctor, I think I might be the only doctor/bodyguard in the world.” It was body guarding that lead Bill to medical school, as when he was touring with bands, he saw that healthcare for musicians—and all the people who travel with them—was seriously lacking.
“Rock ’n’ roll and the music industry is my family,” Bill explains. “So I feel like I’m giving back to the industry that’s given me everything.” Bill goes on to tell us that the main problem with being a rock doctor is that your patients are never in the same spot for more than a few days, and that the toll that the lifestyle takes on your health are real.
“Rock ’n’ roll is brutal,” says Bill. “I’ve seen the toll that it can take on your body. Everything from suicide, depression, poor health, heart attacks, you name it.” That fact that the production teams: roadies, sound tech’s etc. are constantly travelling makes it super hard for them to seek medical attention when they need it. “It’s difficult caring for such a transient crowd,” Bill tells us. “They just do not have the time to go and see anyone. They get one day off and they’re buggered. Then they can’t get in to see anyone, or don’t know where to go. That’s just not good enough for me.”
Dr Bill’s also set up a company called Hemisphere with his business partner Matt Crawford (who’s also Mick Jagger’s bodyguard) and they’ve created a network of doctors who’re solely focused on the rock world for medical and security needs. “I have so many amazing doctors who are kindred spirits and understand rock medicine,” explains Bill. “So I have a network all around the world and I plug all of my tours into my doctors so we can provide the best care possible around the world.”
Some of Dr Bill’s clients include: The Rolling Stones, The Foo Fighters, Nitro Circus and more. Bill’s been working at Splendour in the Grass for a number of years, and he explains that a lot of his work at the festival is centred around reducing non-appearance of acts, and festival health.
“I’ve got so many stories about acts that we’ve saved from pulling out,” says Bill. “My motto is that the show must go on. If you’re proactive rather than reactive, then the probability of a failure from any kind of health crisis is diminished. Jess and Paul (Splendour’s co-founders) are proactive visionaries when it comes to festival health. And I admire that they’re prepared to spend money to set up the infrastructure to support the festival medical needs.