Judas Priest’s Richie Faulkner Shares Details of His Emergency Heart Surgery

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Richie Faulkner

Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner has released a statement following his emergency heart surgery that took place in late September. In the Oct. 5, 2021 statement, Faulkner described what he later learned was a ruptured aorta while performing with the band at the Louder Than Life festival in Kentucky on Sept. 26. “I was having what my doctor called an aortic aneurysm and complete aortic dissection,” he wrote. “From what I’ve been told by my surgeon, people with this don’t usually make it to the hospital alive.”

Faulkner continued playing unaware that blood was “spill[ing] into my chest cavity.” When the band’s hour-long set ended, he was taken to a nearby heart and lung center for what turned out to be successful, 10 1/2 hour emergency open heart surgery.

Faulkner noted he had no prior history: “no bad heart, no clogged arteries. This could’ve been the end for me.”

The following day (Sept. 27), the band postponed the rest of the North American dates of their 50th anniversary tour indicating Faulkner had “major medical heart condition issues.” The U.S. leg of the celebratory tour, which had already been postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic, had begun on Sept. 8 with dates scheduled through Nov. 5.

The announcement on the band’s Facebook page noted “Richie has major medical heart condition issues which have landed him in hospital where he is being treated – in the meantime we are all sending love to our Falcon to wish him a speedy recovery.”

In his Oct. 5 statement, Faulkner wrote, “As I watch footage from the Louder Than Life Festival… 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.

“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!”

Blabbermouth.net reported that Faulkner’s girlfriend, Mariah Lynch, posted on Instagram that Faulkner “underwent major emergency heart surgery. He is stable & resting. If you know him, you know how tough & strong he is. So tough that he finished the show and kept the hair flips coming. There’s no one like him. We’d be lost without him.”

In their Sept. 27 announcement, the band noted “As soon as we have any updates from his doctors on when we can reschedule the dates we will of course announce them – tickets will be valid.”

The band is releasing a massive box set, Judas Priest: 50 Heavy Metal Years. The limited edition collection will include every official live and studio album to date plus 13 unreleased discs, totaling a whopping 42 CDs. It arrives October 15, 2021, via Sony Music.

Full details on the numbered, limited edition box set are available here. A Reflections edition, on a single CD and 2-LPs, is also being released.

The band resumed their world tour with a performance at Bloodstock Open Air in August.

The 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour was being fueled by the highest charting album of their career, Firepower, which peaked at #5 on the Billboard Album Sales chart.

On July 15, the day of the announcement of the box set, the band shared a previously unreleased live performance of “Hellion/Electric Eye” from 1986.

Swedish heavy metal band, Sabaton, is the opening act. See the itinerary below. (When the dates are rescheduled, tickets will be available here and here.)

The 50 Heavy Metal Years Box Set

Judas Priest originally formed in 1969-70 in Birmingham, England. The original nucleus of musicians – Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, KK Downing and Ian Hill (along with several different drummers over the years) – would go on to change the face of heavy metal. Throughout the 70’s Priest were responsible for helping trail blaze metal with such classic offerings as Sad Wings of Destiny (1976), Sin After Sin (1977) and Hell Bent For Leather (1978) as well as one of the genre’s top live recordings, Unleashed in the East (1979), among others.

But it was during the 80’s that Priest became a global arena headliner on the strength of such all-time classics as British Steel (1980) and Screaming For Vengeance (1982), as well as being one of the first metal bands to be embraced by the then-burgeoning MTV. They performed at some of the decade’s biggest concerts (1980’s Monsters of Rock, 1983’s US Festival, and 1985’s Live Aid) and being the first to exclusively wear leather and studs – a look that began during this era and would eventually be embraced by metal heads throughout the world.

Priest’s success continued throughout the 90’s and beyond with the addition of drummer Scott Travis, with such albums as Painkiller (1990), Angel of Retribution (2005) and A Touch of Evil: Live (2009) which earned the band a Grammy Award for their rendition of the classic “Dissident Aggressor.”

In 2011, guitarist Faulkner joined and reinvigorated the band.

Despite their influence on a genre, Judas Priest continue to be ignored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Related: Halford talks about the band’s 2018 Rock Hall snub

Judas Priest 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour (Postponed) (Tickets are available here and here)

Rob Halford (Photo: Sony Music; used with permission)

Sep 29 – Denver, CO – The Mission Ballroom^
Sep 30 – West Valley City, UT – Maverik Center
Oct 02 – Everett, WA – Angel of the Winds Arena
Oct 03 – Portland, OR – Moda Center
Oct 05 – Oakland, CA – Fox Theater^
Oct 06 – Los Angeles, CA – Microsoft Theater^
Oct 08 – Las Vegas, NV – Zappos Theatre – Planet Hollywood
Oct 09 – Phoenix, AZ – Arizona Federal Theatre
Oct 12 – San Antonio, TX – Freeman Coliseum^
Oct 13 – Cedar Park, TX – HEB Center^
Oct 15 – Irving, TX at Pavilion – Toyota Music Factory
Oct 16 – Oklahoma City, OK – The Zoo Amphitheatre^
Oct 19 – Independence, MO – Cable Dahmer Arena
Oct 21 – Nashville, TN – Nashville Municipal Auditorium
Oct 22 – Alpharetta, GA – Ameris Bank Amphitheatre
Oct 24 – Charleston, WV – Charleston Civic Center Coliseum
Oct 25 – Philadelphia, PA – The Met
Oct 27 – Newark, NJ – Prudential Center
Oct 28 – Oxon Hill, MD – MGM National Harbor
Oct 30 – Mashantucket, CT – Foxwoods Resort Casino – Grand Theater^
Oct 31 – Lowell, MA – Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell
Nov 02 – Halifax, NS – Scotiabank Centre
Nov 04 – Laval, QC – Place Bell
Nov 05 – Hamilton, ON – FirstOntario Centre

^ not a Live Nation event
+ Sabaton not support on this date; support is TBD

Related: Listings for 100s of classic rock tours

Best Classic Bands Staff

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