Judas Priest's Richie Faulkner Was 'A Dying Man' On Stage

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Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner says he could have died on stage last month after suffering “an aortic aneurysm and complete aortic dissection.”

In a message to fans on Tuesday, the 41-year-old rocker said: “From what I’ve been told by my surgeon, people with this don’t usually make it to the hospital alive.”

Judas Priest was performing “Painkiller” during its set at the Louder Than Life Festival in Kentucky when Faulkner’s aorta ruptured “and started to spill blood into my chest cavity.”

Fan-shot video of the performance shows Faulkner exiting the stage immediately at the end of the song and not returning for the final bow with his bandmates.

Faulkner was rushed to a hospital about 6.5 km away and underwent more than 10 hours of emergency open heart surgery.

At the time, the band said only that he was being treated for “major medical heart condition issues.”

Faulkner, who has been with Judas Priest since 2011, said he can’t help think about how things could have happened differently.

“We only had an [hour-long] 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?,” he said. “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?”

Faulkner said watching footage from the show he can “see in my face the confusion and anguish I was feeling” at the moment. “Truth is, knowing what I know now, I see a dying man.”

Faulkner said he was not aware of any pre-existing heart condition. “This came totally out of the blue for me – no history of a bad heart, no clogged arteries etc.,” he shared. “My point is I don’t even have high cholesterol and this could’ve been the end for me.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a history of smoking is to blame for 75 per cent of aortic aneurysms.

Judas Priest has scrapped the rest of the current leg of its 50 Heavy Metal Years tour while Faulkner recovers, including shows on Nov. 2 in Halifax, Nov. 4 in Laval, QC and Nov. 5 in Hamilton, ON.

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