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Andrew McMahon

by Simone from Fredericksburg

136007Andrew McMahonUnugunu at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]Andrew Ross McMahon is a name known by many, but not enough. Talented as a young child, both musically and lyrically, Andrew McMahon chased his dreams. His career has revolved around his two bands Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin, but the story of his life has offered even more. His poetic lyrics and composition as a piano player and vocalist have made McMahon stand out uniquely in the music industry. A diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2005 did not stop him. More than a cancer survivor, more than an inspiration, Andrew McMahon is my hero.

McMahon was born on September 3rd 1982, not only a gift to his parents, but the millions of fans who appreciate his music today. Often noted by his family, McMahon’s gift for piano was clear at age eight when he began writing songs before he could even read music. Much of his early life was spent moving around the country, until a family tragedy occurred that not only impacted the family, but changed his life forever. His uncle, brother of McMahon’s mother, had fallen ill and passed away. McMahon’s family then moved to California to be with family.

Beginning his musical career in high school, McMahon created a band with a few of his classmates. Though his first band did not follow through, he soon formed a new band called Something Corporate in 1998. He was the main vocalist, songwriter and piano player for the band. Something Corporate had progressed significantly and released a demo in 2000. Drive-Thru records, impressed by the work of Something Corporate, gave them a record deal in 2001. Something Corporate had released three major albums and gone on world tours when they concluded that it was time for a temporary break, if not only just to settle down from months of touring. As McMahon continued to write songs, he decided to form what was originally a side project band, Jack’s Mannequin in 2004. Just one year later, the first album, Everything in Transit, was completed. That same day, McMahon, who was on his promotional tour, went to his voice doctor in New York City. With only having a third of the blood needed in his body, McMahon was then diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Andrew McMahon at a Jack's Mannequin Concert 2009 (Personal Photo)
Andrew McMahon at a Jack's Mannequin Concert 2009 (Personal Photo)

Surprised by his diagnosis at the age of 22, McMahon did what he could to stay strong, and continued to follow through with the release of his first solo album. McMahon flew home to Los Angeles to be with his family and friends and immediately begin his treatment. Though the chemotherapy treatment had primarily gone smoothly, he became increasingly ill as time in the hospital went on. Catching a fatal pneumonia, his life had become one of his many uncertainties. While in the hospital, using a camera given to him to record special footage of the making of Everything in Transit, McMahon recorded himself on a routinely basis. This footage, later known and released as “Dear Jack” was a documentary on McMahon’s life during the difficult year including work in the studio and some of his worst days in the hospital. The reality and truth of this film is not surprising, McMahon has always been as open to his fans as possible and did not want to leave fans in the dark about what he had been going through. The day that brought my hero was back to life was the day Everything in Transit was released to the public. His sister, Katie, was the donor of his bone marrow transplant, the angelic act that made the next chapter in McMahon’s life possible.

Meeting McMahon 2009 (Personal Photo)
Meeting McMahon 2009 (Personal Photo)

I began to recognize McMahon as my hero when I got a glimpse of how much of a fighter he was. To his family and friends, watching a man as sick as him lying in a hospital bed, but still thinking of his fans and his music was symbolic of his perseverance.

“I was a bald headed bag of bones, weak as could be but finally back where I belonged: under a rig of hot lights with a piano, a band and some songs to sing,” he said in a blog post about the first time he got back up on stage after his treatment.

After the release of the Jack’s Mannequin’s sophomore album in 2008, my own mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The consistent theme of recovery and recuperation throughout the album aided me in getting through the difficult time in my family’s life. In October 2009, I met McMahon for the second time after a show in the D.C. area. To redeem myself for my speechlessness when I met him for the first time, I discussed my participation in the Light the Night Walk for leukemia and lymphoma and my anxiousness for Dear Jack to be released. In the warm few minutes I spent talking to the man who has inspired me in nearly every aspect of my life, it was more than evident that everything I tribute him for, he is worthy of. McMahon’s music is like a constant star in my life, making every dark moment light up a little, in spite of everything. In the times I had to be strong for my mom, I credit Andrew McMahon and his accomplishments for showing me what it takes to be brave, what it takes to be a hero.

Page created on 12/11/2009 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 10/7/2019 7:27:15 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Dear Jack Foundation - Foundation formed by Andrew McMahon to work towards cancer research
Jack's Mannequin
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society