Rob Halford "still shook up" by Richie Faulkner's onstage near death experience

Rob Halford and Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest
(Image credit: Rick Kern/WireImage)

Judas Priest's Rob Halford admits to being "still shook up" from witnessing guitarist Richie Faulkner's onstage near death experience at Louder Than Life festival in Kentucky last month.

The incident took place on September 26, at the end of Judas Priest's set during their performance of the 1990 track Painkiller, which saw Faulkner suffer "an aortic aneurysm and complete aortic dissection”. As a result, Judas Priest postponed the rest of their 50 Heavy Metal Years US tour dates.

The 41-year-old guitarist was quickly hurried off stage and into hospital, where he underwent surgery for 10 hours, during which five parts of his chest were replaced with “mechanical components”.

Sharing an update on his bandmate's health and recovery, Rob Halford explains "The good news is he’s healing, and his therapy will be picking up the guitar and getting back into these new songs for Priest and getting ready for the next batch of road work.

"I’ve had a couple of conversations with him, and he sounds great. I’m waiting to hear that he’s picked up the guitar – he’s probably picked up the guitar already and his doctors are saying, ‘Put that guitar down!'"

However when faced with the question as to whether Halford intends on viewing the newly-surfacing fan-footage of the incident, he admits that he's still emotionally disturbed from it all. "I can’t look at that yet,” the frontman says. "I’m still shook up, emotionally. Eventually I’ll try to watch the footage, but [Faulkner] says in his own words when he looked at that footage he sees a dying man, which is basically what it was.

“And it’s just incredible that he got through that song and he came to the dressing room and he got changed. Even after the paramedics told him he needs to go the hospital and get a proper look at the stuff, he was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll be back. I’m going home for a couple days after this show, I’ll see you guys in Denver’ and walked out the door and then probably less than an hour later he was having over 10 hours of heart surgery. It’s just unbelievable.”

Following the event, Faulkner posted a statement on social media detailing the experience, while thanking his family and friends for their support. He writes, "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."

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.