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X’s Billy Zoom has cancer; band launches GoFundMe site for medical costs

Punk rock band X

Billy Zoom, left, performs July 10, 2014, at the Roxy in West Hollywood with other members of punk rock band X.

(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Guitarist Billy Zoom, a founding member of long-running L.A. punk band X, has been diagnosed with bladder cancer and will bow out of the group’s current tour to undergo treatment after a run of shows this weekend in Orange County.

Zoom overcame prostate cancer in 2010 with a radical prostatectomy, and will begin chemotherapy next week, according to a statement released by the band.

“In the music community, we all take turns helping each other,” his bandmates said in a statement. “Punk rock and benefits: you name the cause, and the bands and fans will be there. Now it’s our turn to help Billy Zoom, the wittiest, smartest, nicest, best guitar player & friend we know.  We would do anything to help him get better, help take care of his family, and lessen his woes.”

Consequently, a Support Billy Zoom’s Kick Cancer Fight at the GoFundMe website has raised more than $15,000 toward a goal of $50,000 as of midday Thursday.

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“Please keep Billy in your prayers and send some positive energy his way!” X’s statement continued. “Donating a few bucks will take away some of his financial stress and worry. And it’s the punk rock thing to do.”

Zoom vowed to see the band through a stretch of shows at the Observatory in Santa Ana that is scheduled to begin Thursday night and continue through Sunday. The band said it will announce a replacement for Zoom for the remaining shows of its summer tour.

As the quartet did last year at the Roxy, X is playing one of its first four studio albums in its entirety at each of the Observatory shows: “Los Angeles” on Thursday night, “Wild Gift” on Friday, “Under the Big Black Sun” on Saturday and “More Fun in the New World” on Sunday.

The bill captures a rich period of L.A. music with the addition of the Blasters each night, as well as former Minutemen bassist Mike Watt.

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“The X folks asked me to do a half an hour before the Blasters, so I’m bringing my Secondmen for all four gigs,” Watt told The Times. “I’ll do some old Minutemen [material] since they’re doing their old stuff also.

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