As previously reported, Crimson Glory frontman Midnight (real name John Patrick McDonald Jr.) passed away on Wednesday, July 8th at 3:30am EST due to kidney and liver failure at the age of 47. I recently had the unexpected opportunity to interview guitarist Jon Drenning – at his suggestion – to discuss Midnight’s passing and set the record straight with regards to the rumours and misconceptions surrounding his death.
We also discussed Crimson Glory’s enduring legacy – an overview of the Transcendence album can be found here – and their upcoming September 11th ProgPower USA show as a tribute to Midnight. During the conversation Drenning elaborated on the involvement of for-the-time-being unknown special guest vocalist Danaë Saree, who also happens to be his wife.
“Danaë is an amazing singer, but unfortunately she never got to meet Midnight until he was in the hospital,” says Drenning. “She’s got some of the same elements that Midnight had that I love. She’s able to write beautiful, eloquent, colourful lyrics, and the ability to convey them emotionally when she sings. I’m very fortunate to have someone in my life again to be able to sit down with and create music, and to hear her sing those songs. Midnight recorded many songs before he passed away, Danae plays guitar or piano and sings Midnight’s songs, so in a way it’s like having Midnight back in my life.”
In a separate interview Danaë offered her thoughts on taking part in the tribute to Midnight.
“Personal connections and relationships aside, it’s nothing short of an honor to be brought on board for this amazing show at ProgPower. As a fan of Crimson Glory, I felt a vocal and lyrical kinship with Midnight in the last year that I’ve spent with the band, I’ve seen how truly special Crimson Glory are as a group of brothers. They truly do love each other so much, and to see them together off stage is nearly as amazing in its own right as seeing them performing. Since Mid’s passing I’ve learned more about him as an artist, a vocalist, a writer and a human being – he was such a magical, creative, spiritually deep individual, and I wish I had gotten the chance to know him the way that his brothers in Crimson Glory knew him. That I was asked to lend my voice in any form to such a tribute is really great, and I’m touched by the request. Naturally, there’s quite a bit of pressure on me as far as sharing the stage with Jon, but it pushes me harder and makes me better: Diamonds are only formed under immense pressure and he intends for me to shine… I’m fine with that (laughs).
“Of course, to be performing alongside not just Crimson Glory but the incredibly talented roster of vocalists from the upper echelons of both modern and classic metal is like a dream to me,” she adds. “To go from jamming my tapes and CDs with friends, flipping through magazines and going to concert after concert, fest after fest to becoming a part of the Crimson Glory family and ending up onstage with so many of these truly awesome singers… it’s absolutely surreal. Truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’m really looking forward to kicking some serious ass in Atlanta this September.”
Go to this location for more of my exclusive interview with Drenning, featuring his comments on Midnight’s passing. The complete interview and an archive photo gallery will be online on Sunday, August 16th.