Judas Priest guitarist has aortic aneurysm during ‘Painkiller’

During a performance last week, Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner nearly died onstage after experiencing an aortic aneurysm — an often fatal heart condition that occurs when the artery dissects or ruptures. 

The 41-year-old musician miraculously lived and has now opened up about the near-death experience he publicly had while performing the band’s 1990 song “Painkiller” at Kentucky’s Louder Than Life Festival. 

“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 … Whatever the circumstances, when watching that footage, the truth is, knowing what I know now, I see a dying man,” he told Rolling Stone in a written statement just days after the incident on Sept. 26. “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.”

Despite his innards’ anguish, Faulkner managed to finish the show, before being rushed to the nearby University of Louisville’s Rudd Heart and Lung Center. There, he underwent emergency open-heart surgery and had portions of his chest “replaced with mechanical components.”

“I’m literally made of metal now,” said the heavy metal rocker.

The band, which was formed in 1969, subsequently postponed the rest of its US tour and rescheduled the 50th anniversary “50 Heavy Metal Years” tour, but Faulkner says he is simply overcome with thankfulness to be alive.

Singer Rob Halford (L) and guitarist Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest at the Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in June 2019 in Las Vegas.
Getty Images

“I’ve always been grateful for the opportunities I’ve been presented with. I’ve always considered myself THE most fortunate man ever — to be able to play my favorite music — with my favorite band — to my favorite people around the world,” wrote Faulkner, who joined the group in 2011. “Today just being able to type this to you all is the biggest gift of all.”

“We’d be lost without him,” Faulkner’s partner, Mariah Lynch, wrote in an Instagram post.

If the show’s set had been longer, or the heart hospital further away, Faulkner is not sure he would have lived to tell the tale. “We can always drive ourselves crazy with these things but I’m still alive thankfully,” he said.

Faulkner, who had no previous history of any heart conditions, is now encouraging fans to get examined for unknown heart issues so they may avoid what he experienced — or worse.

“I don’t even have high cholesterol and this could’ve been the end for me, he wrote. “If you can get yourselves checked — do it for me please.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here