January 26, 2023



VAN STEPHENSON Solo Demo ‘Ships Of Heaven’ Released To Commemorate 20th Anniversary of His Passing, April 8, 2001.

Ships Of Heaven

20 years ago today, the world lost a musical icon.

Van Wesley Stephenson passed away April 8, 2001 after a defiant battle with melanoma, aged just 47.

Van Stephenson was so much to so many people… Husband, father, brother, son, friend… Prolific songwriter, AOR hero, country superstar, gifted vocalist.

To commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the passing of Van Stephenson, MelodicRock Classics is proud to join with Van’s wife Karen to present one of Van’s most loved songs in its original demo form for the very first time.

‘Ships Of Heaven’ would be the last song Van wrote and recorded before his death. His band Blackhawk would go on to record it for their ‘Greatest Hits’ record, where it became an instant fan favourite for its sentimental heartfelt lyric.

Never previously released is Van’s original demo, where his warm vocal shines brightest with the emotion, with Van as always, looking for a brighter outlook on life.

Andrew McNeice from MelodicRock Classics comments: “Van is a musical hero of mine and I was truly fortunate to get to know him a little before his untimely passing. He was a generous, funny, humble soul, who I will forever be grateful to, for brining me some of my favourite music ever.

We began working on plans for a new release of some of his unreleased songs and to this day it remains a mission to complete that task. This is a great start.”

Karen Stephenson pays this tribute to Van on this anniversary:

“20 years…I can’t believe you’ve been gone for so long, yet your presence and energy seem to be with us everyday. Your life was bigger and bolder than most, yet you only had 47 years on earth.

You left us way too soon and we miss you every single day.

Ships of Heaven you said, is the love letter left for us, and I cry still when I hear it.

You will never believe how many people have asked to used it for the loss of their loved one, or in the hospital sick or even for their own song at their funerals. I believe you captured for all time in your heartfelt words, knowing that this would be the last song you would write.

It’s a song of a legacy.

You loved. You were loved. And still remain our Love…”

Van Wesley Stephenson 

Father, son, brother and husband ❤️


All proceeds from the sale and streaming of this single will go to The Van Stephenson Memorial Cancer Research Fund

‘Ships Of Heaven’ will be available on all digital platforms in the coming days.

And if you liked this, there’s more to come…

Artwork by Arnaud Leger

Remastering by JK Northrup