Local Current Blog

Minnesota peers launch Ed Ackerson Family Fund after musician reveals cancer diagnosis

Ed Ackerson performs at The Current with BNLX in 2010. (Laura Gill/MPR)

Friends and peers from the Minnesota music community have launched an Ed Ackerson Family Fund after the Minneapolis singer-songwriter-producer shared the news that he has been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. Update 10/5: We are saddened to acknowledge that Ed Ackerson died on Friday, Oct. 4.

“Ed would never ask for help in this way, so I’m starting this GoFundMe campaign to raise money for my best friend and his family,” wrote Polara bandmate Daniel Boen in launching the campaign, which exceeded its initial $25,000 goal and is now aiming for $50,000.

“The money you give will help in three ways,” Boen continued. “1) you will help Ed and his family get through this very challenging time; 2) you can provide a safety net for young Annika Ackerson and her mother; 3) you will undoubtedly bring great karma back to Ed, who has dedicated his life to bringing art into the world, and helping countless other bands achieve their dreams.”

Ackerson posted a statement on Sept. 11, after Pete Townshend wished him well onstage at the Who’s Xcel Energy Center show on Sept. 6. “I want to keep my focus on the positive energy of rock and roll, and my family and friends, rather than dwelling on the illness and attempting to answer unanswerable questions,” wrote Ackerson on Facebook. “Despite it all, I’ve been in an amazingly creative period musically, with a couple of brand new sonic collaborations in the works. I can’t wait to share some of these new sounds soon.”

On the GoFundMe page, Boen summarized Ackerson’s impact.

Ed isn’t just a central figure in the Minneapolis music scene, he’s an internationally known producer and recording artist with a thirty-year career producing great records for others as well as his own projects, like his bands The Dig, The 27 Various, Polara, BNLX, and two brilliant solo LPs. Polara’s self-titled 1995 debut and its single “Counting Down” are still hailed as alternative rock classics. Even as a bandmate of Ed’s for a good chunk of time, I can say without exaggeration that his songwriting and work as a producer have heavily influenced a generation of musicians in this town, and it has not diminished. For over 20 years, Ed has owned and operated Flowers Studio, by far one of the coolest and most prestigious recording studios in Minnesota, and has produced and engineered countless projects for artists and labels from all over the globe. Ed is one of the finest musicians to ever come from Minnesota: one listen to his 2007 self-titled solo album, which he played, sang and produced all by himself – using real instruments no less – proves it in 38 minutes flat.

Friends and collaborators from across the Minnesota music scene have been sharing thoughts and tributes.