Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner has detailed the medical emergency that led him to be hospitalised last week, revealing that he suffered an aneurysm onstage.
The musician, 41, was admitted to hospital on September 27 due to “major heart condition issues”, which resulted in the band postponing the remainder of their 50 Heavy Metal Years US tour dates.
It was subsequently reported that Faulkner was in a “stable” condition, with his partner Mariah Lynch explaining: “[He’s] so tough that he finished the show & kept the hair flips coming. There’s no one like him. We’d be lost without him.”
In a new statement (via Rolling Stone), the guitarist told fans that he had an aortic aneurysm during Judas Priest’s performance at the Louder Than Life Festival in Louisville, Kentucky on September 26.
He explained that the health issue came “totally out of the blue” as he has “no history of a bad heart, no clogged arteries or high cholesterol”.
“I’ve always been grateful for the opportunities I’ve been presented with,” Faulkner said in the statement. “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.”
He continued: “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.”
The musician went on to explain that he was then taken to hospital, where he underwent emergency 10-and-a-half-hour open-heart surgery. “Five parts of my chest were replaced with mechanical components,” he added. “I’m literally made of metal now.”
Faulkner said: “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 guitarist said he was “thankful” to still be alive, adding: “Whatever the circumstances, when watching that [Louder Than Life] footage, the truth is, knowing what I know now, I see a dying man.”
Faulkner then thanked his “friends, family, fantastic band, crew, management” and fans for all of their “love and support during the last week”.
“[…] 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!” he concluded.
Richie Faulkner has been a member of Judas Priest since 2011, replacing longtime guitarist K. K. Downing following his departure from the band. Faulkner has since performed on Judas Priest’s last two studio albums: 2014’s ‘Redeemer of Souls’ and 2018’s ‘Firepower’.