What does a forty-one-year-old ear, nose, and throat surgeon have in common with Mick Jagger, U2, Stevie Nicks,
Prince, and a strobo-scopy machine? Every day’s a star-studded whirlwind for this unassuming voice doctor to some of
the biggest names in entertainment. Be it drippy nasal passages or an irritating earache, a nasty case of tonsillitis
or vocal cord abuse-if a superstar singer is about to croak, it’s Dr. Wayne R. Kirkham to the rescue.
The University of Wisconsin med school grad has always loved music, and when he wasn’t buried in medical terminology
and mid-terms, he spent his time playing the drums and singing. Because of this unique marriage of music and medicine,
Kirkham believes he really understands his star performers’ needs and knows how to work with them. And he has the
extra edge of owning the only stroboscopy machine in north Texas; the high-tech gizmo scans the throat with strobe
lights, producing a high quality video of the vocal cords and larynx in order to pinpoint the nature of the problem.
Kirkham’s first call came from the heavy metal group AC-DC, and since then he’s prospered from celebrity
word-of-mouth. In the eleven years he’s been in Dallas, Kirkham has saved many a performance from near cancellation.
Probably his biggest coup was being summoned to the Fairmont Hotel only thirty-six hours before Mick Jagger was to
belt it out for the 80,000-plus attending the Stones’ Cotton Bowl concert a few years ago.
Kirkham has built more than a professional relationship with many of his clients. His children have mountains of
T-shirts and guitar picks and backstage passes courtesy of groups like Bon Jovi (his youngest even made a stage
appearance with the group’s lead singer), Fleetwood Mac, U2, Journey, and even a few collectibles from the likes of
Motley Crue and Twisted Sister. Kirkham’s boys, he says, are the only children who have ever been allowed access into
Prince’s off-limits inner sanctum, the purple dressing room.
“Now that was probably my most bizarre patient,” says Kirkham. “I was called by his people to go to his Reunion
dressing room to take a look at Prince, who had been complaining of throat problems. [Because it would violate medical
ethics, Kirkham never divulges specifics on any of his patients’ illnesses.] This was at least a year and a half
before anyone had even heard of Prince, and way before the guy had any sort of a following. Anyhow, there in his
all-purple room, complete with a purple piano and a purple candy machine, sat Prince. He acted like a real turkey,
very demanding and picky and wanting things just so. I found this to be quite unusual since it’s not the way the
really big stars like Mick or Stevie or that great girl Joni Mitchell ever acted. But I make it my practice to treat
’em all the same, whether it’s a big shot or one of my regulars.”