been with the same woman since he was 16

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And only two years older than me. He does, though, have a good excuse.
Rea had had peritonitis and stomach complications since 1994, as well as several operations. In August 2000, Rea underwent a Whipple procedure after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, by which he lost the head of the pancreas and part of duodenum, bile duct, and gall bladder. Since having his pancreas removed, Rea has had problems with diabetes and a generally weaker immune system and has to take thirty-four pills and seven injections a day. He has since undergone several serious operations. Nevertheless, he found even greater appreciation for life and the things he loves.

In an interview, Rea revealed that "it's not until you become seriously ill and you nearly die and you're at home for six months, that you suddenly stop to realise that this isn't the way I intended it to be in the beginning. Everything that you've done falls away and start wondering why you went through all that rock business stuff". Although the record company offered him millions to do a duets album with music stars, having promised himself that if he recovered he would be returning to his blues roots, he recorded Dancing Down the Stony Road (2002) and set up his own independent Jazzee Blue label in 2003 to free himself from the pressure of record company expectations. He has since released the Blue Street (Five Guitars) (2003), Hofner Blue Notes (2003), and The Blue Jukebox (2004), blues albums and in 2005 he released Blue Guitars, a 11 CD collection of 137 blues-inspired tracks, with his own paintings as album covers. Rea concluded: "I was never a rock star or pop star and all the illness has been my chance to do what I'd always wanted to do with music [...] the best change for my music has been concentrating on stuff which really interests me".
Pretty fuckin' awesome.

pipe up any time....