Musician battles health issues to pursue his dream of making it big as Johnny Shiver

A SINGER has battled career-hampering health issues as he fights to reclaim his lost dream of making it big — using a local hero as his inspiration.

Gary Bates (57) has lived with conditions such as transient ischemic attacks, a heart aneurysm, vertigo, tinnitus and depression, which forced him to give up music and “broke my entire world”.

Going by the stage name of Johnny Shiver, Gary is now producing and releasing music from the comfort of his own home.

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The Maltby musician models his style on the rock ‘n’ roll sounds of Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra and Conisbrough’s very own Tony Christie.

Music has always flowed through my veins since I was a young boy,” Gary said.

“I loved listening to the radio, listening to Elvis, and dancing in the kitchen with my mum.

“She used to play on the streets with Tony Christie as a kid in Maltby where his auntie lived.

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“But the first time I heard his ‘Jailhouse Rock’ was like an epiphany.

“I’ve modelled myself on him ever since.

“Music is my life and has always had the power to give me a purpose.

“As I child, I was really shy and quite nervous but when Elvis came on the radio, I just came alive and it transformed me.

“The kids at school always asked me to do Elvis impersonations, which saved me from getting bullied.

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“Music is still the one thing I think about when I wake up in the morning.”

Gary’s first musical gig came in 1990 when he got the job as a Butlins redcoat singer in Skegness.

“I would entertain crowds with my Elvis impressions,” Gary said.

“This is where the idea to create the persona of Johnny Shiver came from.

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“When I became Johnny, I was a totally different person, and people wanted to see him.

“It was a great job, which I loved, but I had to move on because my wife had epileptic fits on a frequent basis.

“I also started to become unwell when I had my first mini-stroke at 24.

“It became clear that our health was being impacted, which forced me to rethink my career as a singer. It tore my entire world apart.

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“We moved back to Maltby to raise our family and focus on our health.”

Gary decided to get back in the game with the help of a musical distribution platform.

“I had dabbled with music in the intervening years by uploading my music to YouTube, which I’ve done since 2016,” he said.

“But I really wanted to get back into music properly because it means everything to me.

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“I’ve been using the distribution service Distrokid to upload and sell my music to platforms such as Apple and Spotify since 2019.

“All I have to do is record my singing from the comfort of my home and send it to them who then create the music ready for the music streaming platforms.

“It’s amazing as I’ve now been verified and I’m doing quite well for myself.

“I’ve been given a god-given talent which I want to share with the world.

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“Hopefully, my story shows that nothing can stop people from chasing their dreams.

“I’m really enjoying life again in the process.”

You can listen to the sounds of Johnny Shiver here:

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