Judas Priest Guitarist Richie Faulkner’s Aorta Ruptured and Spilled Blood as He Performed “Painkiller” Onstage

In a new statement, the metal musician reveals he's very lucky to be alive

Judas Priest Richie Faulkner heart statement
Judas Priest Richie Faulkner, photo by Steven J. Messina

    Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner has issued a statement after undergoing emergency heart surgery, detailing a dire situation in which he’s lucky to be alive. It turns out that the metal musician suffered a ruptured aorta in the middle of the band’s set at the recent Louder Than Life festival.

    As previously reported, Judas Priest postponed their remaining US tour dates after the Louder Than Life gig, explaining that Faulkner was hospitalized for “major heart condition issues.” The guitarist’s girlfriend, Mariah Lynch, followed Priest’s statement up with news that Faulkner had undergone major heart surgery.

    Now, Faulkner himself has released a statement that paints a life-and-death picture, where if any one thing happened differently, there’s a good chance he’d no longer be alive:


    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…

    Today just being able to type this to you all is the biggest gift of all…

    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….

    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…..

    I was taken to nearby Rudd Heart & Lung Center and quickly went into what turned out to be a 10 ½ hour emergency open heart surgery

    Five parts of my chest were replaced with mechanical components…..I’m literally made of metal now…

    It could have all ended so differently – we only had an hours 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…? 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…?

    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…

    I’ve been moved to tears and humbled by friends, family, my fantastic band, crew and management and also you guys sending me videos and messages of love and support during the last week – I thank you all so much and although I have a recovery road ahead of me, as soon as I’m able to get up and running again, you’ll be the first to know and we’ll get back out there delivering the goods for you all….!

    One last thing maniacs, 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…

    Lots of love and see you down the front again soon….



    Now that Faulkner is recovering, it’s safe to say that this may be one of the most metal moments in heavy metal history: playing one of the ultimate metal songs (“Painkiller”) while experiencing a ruptured aorta, and then having five parts of his chest replaced with metal components.

    We’re glad to hear Faulkner is on the mend, and wish him a speedy and full recovery as he rests up from this major surgery. Watch the aforementioned performance of “Painkiller” at the Louder Than Life festival below.