(WHAM) - Rochester Music Hall of Famer Bat McGrath got the news just a few days before Christmas. His doctor told him he had cancer, that it had spread from his colon to his liver, and that it was inoperable.
In an interview at his home outside of Nashville, McGrath, 73, said he is at peace with his diagnosis, and has decided against further treatment that might prolong his life.
"It's a personal choice. It's the way I want to leave. I don't want to be sick for a couple of years," McGrath said. "I've had the best, absolute best, life. I'm totally at peace with the decision."
While McGrath has been living and writing in Nashville for decades, his years in Rochester were marked by some of his most memorable musical adventures. He came to town with the rock band The Showstoppers in the 1960s, then formed a duo with bandmate Don Potter. The two opened a popular coffee house on Ridge Road called Hylie Morris' Alley.
Playing there early one Sunday morning , Chuck Mangione came in with his flugelhorn, and joined them on stage. McGrath and Potter would later join Mangione and the RPO on the Eastman Theater stage for 1970's seminal "Friends and Love" concert.
While Don Potter went on to play guitar with some of Nashville's biggest names, McGrath focused on writing songs. He married actress Tricia Cast, and the two left life in Los Angeles for the Tennessee countryside. In recent years, they've made regular trips to play concerts in Rochester, where he still has a devoted following. Some of those local fans are old enough to remember the Bat and Don days, and Bat's first solo albums "From the Blue Eagle" and "Spy."
McGrath admitted a routine colonoscopy might have changed things for him. But he does not seem burdened by regret.
"I walk in the woods now, and the colors are more brilliant," McGrath said. "The trees have more beauty to their shape. Everything seems more acute."
McGrath is still writing songs; he said just having the guitar in his hands makes him feel better. He is practicing for a Rochester show that will likely be part concert, part reunion of old friends.
"It's normal to feel sad but it's more important to know how much we got out of each other," said McGrath, referring to the many people who've enjoyed his music over the years. "They supported me and that has kept me whole, and steady, creative and happy."
Bat will perform on Saturday, January 26 at 8 p.m. at the Lyric Theatre on East Avenue near Prince Street. Tickets are available for $20 and can be purchased online here.