Paul Rodgers opens up about strokes and major surgery which nearly left him unable to sing

"They told me, they're very clear, 'You may not come out of this alive'"

Free and Bad Company frontman Paul Rodgers has opened up about experiencing major health episodes which left him nearly unable to sing.

The British-Canadian singer-songwriter revealed that he suffered 11 minor strokes and two major strokes several years ago which left him unable to talk.

The 73-year-old artist discussed the string of medical problems during an interview with CBS Mornings yesterday (September 27).


“I couldn’t do anything, to be honest,” Rodgers said. “I couldn’t speak. That was the very strange thing. You know, I’d prepare something in my mind and I’d say it, but that isn’t what came out and I’d go, ‘What the heck did I just say?'”

Rodgers suffered his first major stroke in 2016 and a second in October 2019 which led to major surgery, during which they performed an endarterectomy – a procedure to remove plaque clogging an artery which posed a risk to the artist’s vocal cords.

“They told me, they’re very clear, ‘You may not come out of this alive.’ And I said, ‘Oh, well, that’s a plus, isn’t it?'” Rodgers said.

“And when I woke up, I opened my eyes, I thought, ‘Oh, I’m still here,'” he added, later finding out that the surgeon had played his music during the operation.

The recovery process that followed was slow and required small steps forward. “Each thing that I did was an achievement… ‘Oh, I can do this. I can sing,'” Rodgers said.


A year and a half ago, the musician was able to return to the studio, where he recorded his new album ‘Midnight Rose’, which came out last week.

His wife, Cynthia Kereluk Rodgers, said it was “amazing” and “just phenomenal” to hear him sing adding, adding: “I didn’t think that would ever happen.”

‘Midnight Rose’ is the singer’s first solo album in nearly 25 years. He spent 2004-2009 performing as Queen + Paul Rodgers, releasing studio album ‘The Cosmos Rocks’ in 2008, along with live albums ‘Return of the Champions’ (2005) and ‘Live in Ukraine’ (2009).

In May 2009, Rodgers announced the end of his collaboration with Queen, sharing that it was “never meant to be permanent”.

His website describes the new album as “a celebration of a storied career and a feel-good, hopeful look towards the future”.

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