Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner seems to have an inkling that the life-or-death performance he delivered at the Louder Than Life festival with a ruptured aorta will go down as legendary.
But as he recovers from life-saving open heart surgery, with no timetable yet on when he'll be healthy enough to perform again, Faulkner admits he's extremely lucky, but not basking much in feelings of heavy metal heroism.
Faulkner himself has watched the footage of the September 26 performance (which you can see above). For him, the implications of what happened to him are a bit too real.
"...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," he wrote in a statement release by the band earlier this week. "I was having what my doctor called an aortic aneurysm and complete aortic dissection."
While it was initially believed to be a heart attack, what Faulkner suffered is actually much more rare and deadly,
Furthermore, a heart problem of any sort "came totally out of the blue." The 41-year-old added that he has no history of heart issues — not even high cholesterol — and no family history of heart disease.
He finds himself wondering whether he'd still be around to think about all this if his aorta had ruptured earlier in the set.
Would he have persevered through the pain until he collapsed? If the venue was further than four miles from the Rudd Heart & Lung Center in Louisville, KY, would doctor's have been equipped to diagnose and save him in time? If he was not onstage at all, would he have survived long enough to get to a hospital without adrenaline keeping him going?
"Whatever the circumstance, when watching that footage, the truth is, knowing what I know now, I see a dying man..." Faulkner admitted.
Despite the angst about his situation, and all that could have prevented him from watching his daughter grow up, Faulkner underscores how lucky he is, He's also been "moved to tears and humbled by friends, family, my fantastic band, crew and management and also [fans] sending me videos and messages of love and support."
Faulkner has since been discharged from the hospital and is now resting at home in Nashville.
His doctor, Dr. Siddharth Pahwa, says the guitarist is "alive today because the stars aligned. He had an outstanding emergency care team, he was close to a world class heart center, and he was quick to recognize he needed help."
Judas Priest has postponed its U.S. tour indefinitely until they get a timetable on Faulkner's recovery.
"He will be flying high again just as soon as he is able," the band says.