Sub Pop Co-Founder Jonathan Poneman Has Parkinson's, Says He's 'Grateful to the Disease'


Jonathan Poneman, the co-founder of Seattle's Sub Pop Records, who helped launch such seminal bands as Nirvana and Soundgarden, among others, announced May 31 that he has Parkinson's, the degenerative nervous system disease that also struck Michael J. Fox, Pauline Kael, and Bob Hoskins.

"As ironic as it sounds, I am truly grateful to the disease,” Poneman told Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur. "My love of life and its precious elements became more vivid at the thought of seeing them fade away."

The Billboard Q&A: Sub Pop's Jonathan Poneman

Poneman, who said the illness can make him feel "like the Tin Man without any oil" and "a human bowling pin," remains a driving force of the still-vital Seattle music scene along with his record label, which also helped make The Shins, The Postal Service and Iron and Wine famous.
To diminish his symptoms, Poneman replaced his Sub Pop desk chair with a stationary bike.

Further showing no sign of a slowdown, Poneman is planning a large, free music festival to mark Sub Pop's 25th anniversary in Seattle on July 13. Come as you are.


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.