As previously reported, Judas Priest’s Richie Faulkner recently underwent emergency heart surgery at Rudd Heart and Lung Center at UofL Health – Jewish Hospital in Louisville, KY after suffering an aortic aneurysm onstage at the Louder Than Life festival. The guitarist has since discussed the operation with WHAS11, saying that he “[doesn’t] know how [he is] still around today”
Faulkner said the following [via Blabbermouth]:
“I became a bit light-headed. It didn’t go away. I’ve never fainted before. I’ve never passed out, but I knew that this felt like I was going to pass out in a minute.
Luckily, it was about half way into the [last] song. So obviously, I had to finish the song. If I had known how important it was, maybe I would have got off there a bit quicker. But I think that’s the whole point for me. I had no idea whatsoever what it was.
Luckily, it was a short set, and we would have come off stage anyway. Otherwise, I don’t know I would have come off stage.”
He went on to say that he experienced a sharp pain as he was stepping off the stage:
“That’s when it exploded. The more I read about it, the more astonishing it is to me to think that I even made it to the hospital. The amount of time when I actually go the pain and when I turned up in the hospital and when we were actually operating, it was quite a lot of time. The more I read about it, the more unbelievable — that amount of time — I don’t know how I’m still around today.”
“Listen, I’m 41 with no history. You could be the same. Go and get checked. Get in front of it if there’s anything like that. If there’s not, great. Take it from me: Just go and get yourself checked out.”
He also added the following about his plans to return to the stage:
“Get better first. Don’t rush. And then we’ll get back to seeing when we can get back out there and play some more Priest. But at the moment, it’s focusing on getting ready, getting better, getting my energy back and my strength back. And at some point, I’ll pick up the guitar again and seeing if I can knock out some riffs.”
Faulkner also thanked Dr. Siddharth Pahwa, who was present during the interview:
“You saved my life. My little girl saw me come home, and that just means everything. So I thank you from the bottom of my heart. There’s really nothing more to say other than that, really.”
He continued when it was mentioned that his story can help people:
“I hope so. The fact that I’m here able to do it, again, it just means everything. You gave me everything back, so whatever I can give to you guys in return is fine by me.”
In a separate interview with Consequence, Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford also commented on Faulkner’s condition:
“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!’”
He also added the following when asked if he saw footage of the moment when Faulkner suffered the aortic aneurysm:
“I can’t look at that yet. 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.”