Carl Palmer: E.coli turned me vegan
Carl Palmer has gone vegan after the attack of E.coli that forced him to call off Asia’s 30th anniversary UK tour – and he admits the illness brought him closer to death than he’d ever been.
The cancellation of December’s shows marked the first time Palmer had missed a tour in his career. But he’s explained there was good reason.
The drummer tells Classic Rock Revisited: “I got it from a casino in New York. It was about ten days into the tour and everything seemed to go down in my stomach and I was fine. My immune system managed to tackle it at first.
“Within two days my intestinal area just blew up. I got into a specialist in the centre of London and they said, ‘Wow, this is really bad.’ They drew a line on my stomach and told my wife that if the redness and swelling went above that line, she had to call this number. They had a quarantine room in a hospital ready for me to go into if that happened.
“It was eight weeks of absolute hell. I had to take these antibiotics that were the size of torpedoes – you would take one and just fall over. I managed to get through it, but it was hard.”
Palmer has since toured with his solo band and he’s started work on Asia’s upcoming album Valkyrie with new guitarist Sam Coulson, who replaced Steve Howe in January. But his illness has changed his life for good.
“I have become a Vegan,” he reveals. “I don’t eat any dairy, cheese, milk, meat or whatever. My tastes have changed – fish and meat taste wrong to me. I don’t know why that is; it’s not a moral thing to me. I would have eaten all the cows you could send down the hallway to me. I just no longer like the taste; that’s the problem.”
While the infection will never fully leave his system, he’s determined never to fall so ill again. “I can really see why old people die,” he reflects. “I don’t know if I would be this strong a second time around.”
On the other hand, he considers: “I actually feel more energised now. It could have all been a bit of luck – it could have been that God said to me, ‘Hey, you need to smarten up and change your diet.’
“I have to be super careful that I don’t trigger this again. It’s the closest I have ever been to death; I’ll put it to you that way.”