During a performance last week, Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner nearly died onstage after experiencing an aortic aneurysm — an often fatal heart condition that occurs when the artery dissects or ruptures.
The 41-year-old musician miraculously lived and has now opened up about the near-death experience he publicly had while performing the band’s 1990 song “Painkiller” at Kentucky’s Louder Than Life Festival.
“As I watch footage from the Louder Than Life Festival in Kentucky, I can see in my face the confusion and anguish I was feeling whilst playing ‘Painkiller’ as my aorta ruptured and started to spill blood into my chest cavity … Whatever the circumstances, when watching that footage, the truth is, knowing what I know now, I see a dying man,” he told Rolling Stone in a written statement just days after the incident on Sept. 26. “I was having what my doctor called an aortic aneurysm and complete aortic dissection. From what I’ve been told by my surgeon, people with this don’t usually make it to the hospital alive.”
Despite his innards’ anguish, Faulkner managed to finish the show, before being rushed to the nearby University of Louisville’s Rudd Heart and Lung Center. There, he underwent emergency open-heart surgery and had portions of his chest “replaced with mechanical components.”
“I’m literally made of metal now,” said the heavy metal rocker.
The band, which was formed in 1969, subsequently postponed the rest of its US tour and rescheduled the 50th anniversary “50 Heavy Metal Years” tour, but Faulkner says he is simply overcome with thankfulness to be alive.
It's not really my genre, but what the heck: