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“I’m Literally Made of Metal Now”: Richie Faulkner on Surviving Emergency Heart Operation

Richie Faulkner, 2019
Richie Faulkner, 2019 (Image credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Richie Faulkner is feeling lucky to be alive. Last month, during Judas Priest’s set at the Louder Than Life festival in Louisville, Kentucky, the guitarist experienced an aortic dissection – a life-threatening condition in which an aneurism/swelling of the aorta (the main artery that carries blood away from the heart) ruptures.

“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,” commented Faulkner today.

Richie Faulkner, 2019

Richie Faulkner, 2019 (Image credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

While an aortic dissection can prove fatal, luckily Faulkner was just four miles away from the Rudd Heart & Lung Center in Louisville where he underwent a lifesaving ten-and-a-half hour operation. “Five parts of my chest were replaced with mechanical components… I’m literally made of metal now,” he joked.

“I’ve been moved to tears and humbled by friends, family, my fantastic band, crew and management,” continues Faulkner, “and also [by fans] 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!”

Known for playing Gibson and Epiphone Fying V electric guitars, Faulkner – aged just 41 – replaced Judas Priest guitarist and co-founder K. K. Downing in 2011.

Rod Brakes

Rod Brakes is a music writer with an expertise in all things guitar-related. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a journalist covering artists, industry pros, and gear includes writing hundreds of articles and features for the likes of Guitarist magazine, MusicRadar, and Guitar World, as well as contributions for specialist books and blogs. He is also a lifelong musician.