BlackHawk lead guitarist and vocalist Van Stephenson has decided to leave the group, effective immediately. A successful battle against melanoma inspired a re-examination of his priorities, he says.
"It is more important for me to spend time
at home with my family rather than spend the majority of my time traveling," Stephenson says in a news release. "Being diagnosed
with cancer was one of the most devastating events of my life, but winning the battle with this disease and feeling that I
have a second chance at a future has allowed me to realize what I value most, which is my family."
focus on his songwriting career, and he will continue to write songs with BlackHawk members Dave Robbins and Henry Paul. The
group has released four albums which have sold nearly 4 million copies and generated nine Top 10 country hits including "Almost
a Memory Now" and "Goodbye Says It All."
Robbins and Paul say they understand and respect Stephenson's decision. The
band, which also includes Dale Oliver, Randy Threet and Bobby Huff, will go on touring and recording. A greatest hits collection
containing three unreleased tracks is scheduled for late spring. The group will issue a new single, "I Need You All the Time,"
on Feb. 28.