'Totally out of the blue': Judas Priest's Richie Faulkner had aneurysm during live performance

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  • Richie Faulkner
    British guitarist

Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner suffered a medical emergency during his performance at Louder Than Life last month that led to a 10 ½-hour emergency heart surgery, the musician announced Wednesday.

The 41-year-old said he had "an aortic aneurysm and complete aortic dissection" while on stage on the final day of the rock festival in Louisville in September.

Aortic aneurysms are "balloon-like bulges in the aorta, the large artery that carries blood from the heart through the chest and torso," according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Dissections happen when the "force of blood pumping can split the layers of the artery wall, allowing blood to leak in between them."

"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," Faulkner said in a statement.

Judas Priest postpones tour after guitarist Richie Faulkner hospitalized

Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner looked to the crowd during their set on the fouth and final day of the Louder Than Life music festival. Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021
Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner looked to the crowd during their set on the fouth and final day of the Louder Than Life music festival. Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021

Faulkner was rushed to a University of Louisville Health facility downtown for treatment, according to the statement.

"From what I’ve been told by my surgeon, people with this don’t usually make it to the hospital alive," Faulkner said. "Five parts of my chest were replaced with mechanical components. I’m literally made of metal now."

University of Louisville Health said in a social media post Wednesday that Faulkner's "10.5-hour emergency open-heart surgery" took place at the system's Rudd Heart & Lung Center.

"The amazing Heart & Lung Center was 4 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," Faulkner said in his statement.

Faulkner also encouraged fans to learn from his experience and closely monitor their heart health.

"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," he said.

Judas Priest has postponed the remainder of the performances on its tour, the band previously announced.

More: Judas Priest's Ian Hill talks '50 Heavy Metal Years' ahead of Louder Than Life performance

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Judas Priest's Richie Faulkner had heart surgery amid Louder Than Life