Richie Faulkner details terrifying onstage aneurysm

Richie Faulkner
(Image credit: Judas Priest)

Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner has released a statement detailing the moment he experienced a medical emergency onstage at the Louder Than Life festival in Louisville, KY, two weekends ago.   

Faulkner's statement reads:

"I’ve always been grateful for the opportunities I’ve been presented with.  I’ve always considered myself the most fortunate man ever - to be able to play my favourite music - with my favourite band - to my favourite people around the world. Today just being able to type this to you all is the biggest gift of all.

"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.

"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.

"I was taken to nearby Rudd Heart & Lung Center and quickly went into what turned out to be a 10 ½ hour emergency open heart surgery. Five parts of my chest were replaced with mechanical components. I’m literally made of metal now.

"It could have all ended so differently – we only had an hour's set that night due to Metallica’s performance after us – and it does cross my mind if it was a full set, would I have played until total collapse? If it hadn’t happened in such a high adrenaline situation would my body have been able to keep going long enough to reach the hospital?

"The amazing Heart & Lung Center was four miles away from the gig site – if it had been further away...

"We can always drive ourselves crazy with these things but I’m still alive thankfully.  Whatever the circumstances, when watching that footage, the truth is, knowing what I know now, I see a dying man.

"I’ve been moved to tears and humbled by friends, family, my fantastic band, crew and management and also you guys sending me videos and messages of love and support during the last week – I thank you all so much and although I have a recovery road ahead of me, as soon as I’m able to get up and running again, you’ll be the first to know and we’ll get back out there delivering the goods for you all!

"One last thing maniacs, this came totally out of the blue for me – no history of a bad heart, no clogged arteries etc…my point is I don’t even have high cholesterol and this could’ve been the end for me.  If you can get yourselves checked – do it for me please.   

"Lots of love and see you down the front again soon."

Painkiller was the final number of Judas Priest's Louder Than Life set, and Faulkner was able to complete the song before being rushed to hospital. Priest postponed the 25 remaining dates of their North American tour after Faulkner was taken ill. 

"As soon as we have any updates from his doctors on when we can reschedule the dates, we will of course announce them," said the band in a statement. "Tickets will be valid."   

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.