Friends of Kiwi music icon Chris Knox say he is now unable to speak and may not walk again after suffering a stroke three days ago.
A spokesperson for Knox's family said the 57-year-old had a stroke on Thursday and was recovering at Auckland City Hospital.
"We'd just like to say that Chris' partner Barbara Ward and his children John and Leisha are grateful for the support and love they've received, and at the moment everyone's focus is just on Chris and his recovery, and we just ask that people be respectful of that."
The spokesperson would not confirm any details about Knox's condition. However, it is understood the medical prognosis was grim.
Friends said Knox, who lives in Auckland's Grey Lynn, had surgery on Friday night, and doctors were anticipating that he would at best be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
He was also unable to speak, although stroke victims often regained their speech through therapy.
Sunday Star-Times music writer Grant Smithies said that after three decades in the music scene, Knox was one of our finest songwriters and had tried everything from cartoons to film-making and animation, talking about music on Radio Live and reviewing movies for the 1990s' Backch@t show.
"He is a real pioneer of a lot of things in this country and deeply loved by a lot of people," Smithies said.
Those who followed Knox range from fans of his early underground punk sound to those who, lately, may have hummed along to his 1990 love song to Barbara, "Not Given Lightly" on Vogel's television advertisements.
Eight years ago that slow-burning song with the catchy chorus "Yeah, it's you that I love and it's true that I love" was deemed the 13th-best Kiwi song of all time. A
nother song, It's Love, was recently picked up for a Heineken campaign.
But Smithies said Knox's latest album, A Warm Gun, was his best yet: a "trademark mix of tenderness and disgust".
"It's the sound of somebody that is at the peak of his musical powers, still doing interesting things. It's got his best singing on it for years. He sings one whole song in falsetto. That's just marvellous.
"He's a top bloke and there will be a lot of people throughout the country just really distressed. I just hope he recovers and makes another dozen great records."
- Sunday Star Times