Imagine Dragons’ lead singer Dan Reynolds is getting candid about the “debilitating” disease that has impacted his ability to perform.
The Grammy-winning singer opened up to People recently, telling the magazine about the excruciating pain that forced him to cancel multiple show dates.
“It was beyond the pain that you feel when it’s just a back ache. It felt like someone was drilling my nerves,” the 29-year-old explained. “It was right when the band was starting to have minor success — we were starting to sell out small clubs, and we were playing these very active shows, and it started to make me have to cancel shows.”
Reynolds continued, painting a bleak picture of his life without appropriate treatment: “I couldn’t get on stage. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t sleep at night, I couldn’t perform without standing perfectly still. I couldn’t sit down for more than a half an hour.”
An accurate diagnosis finally came once his brother suggested he be checked for ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory condition that two of his family members suffer from. “I went, and then they did the test to see if it’s in your genes — which it was, because it’s an autoimmune disease,” he said. “And then they diagnosed me and put me on a treatment plan, which fixed me almost immediately. Which was another sign that that’s what it was.”
Despite having nearly two million devoted and supportive followers on Instagram, Reynolds still felt some hesitation about sharing his diagnosis with his fans. “I was shy to reveal it because it made me feel like something was wrong with me, or — to say the word disease, it’s such a drastic sounding word,” he admitted. “And I didn’t want to admit to myself, or to anybody, that I was struggling with a disease.”
Reynolds says he has now overcome his fear of speaking out and is ready to share his experience with as many sufferers via “This AS Life Live!” — an online interactive talk show for sufferers of AS. “I have a chance to really raise awareness and help people that are just becoming diagnosed to see that there’s actually light at the end of the tunnel.”