JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Richie Faulkner has thanked the cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Siddharth Pahwa, for saving his life.
On September 26, Faulkner suffered an acute cardiac aortic dissection on stage at the Louder Than Life festival, in Louisville, Kentucky while the band ripped through their classic, and final song of the night, ‘Painkiller’.
It apparently took the UofL Health – Jewish Hospital cardiothoracic surgery team, led by Dr. Pahwa, and also including Drs. Brian Ganzel and Mark Slaughter, (again, not the frontman for glam-metal rockers SLAUGHTER, although how cool would that have been?) approximately 10 hours to complete Faulkner’s surgery, an aortic valve and ascending aorta replacement with hemiarch replacement.
Faulkner, who is now at home recovering in Nashville, spoke to reporters and Dr. Pahwa online last week, saying: “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 song,” he continued. “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 came off stage any way,” Faulkner said. “Otherwise, I don’t know I would have came off stage.”
Faulkner said that he experienced a sharp pain as he was stepping off the stage. “That’s when it exploded,” he said.
“The more I read about it, the more astonishing it is to me to think that I even made it to the hospital,” he added. “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.”
Faulkner also once again encouraged fans to learn from his experience and closely monitor their heart health.
“Listen, I’m 41 with no history,” he said. “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.”
As for when he plans to make his return to JUDAS PRIEST, Faulkner said: “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.”
Speaking directly to Pahwa, Faulkner said: “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.
After being told that he will help a lot of people by sharing his story, Faulkner said: “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.”
JUDAS PRIEST have postponed the remainder of their U.S. tour dates on their “50 Heavy Metal Years” tour.