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Watch Richie Faulkner shred on Instagram Live just 10 weeks after life-saving open-heart surgery

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

It's been 10 weeks since Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner suffered an aortic aneurysm during the band's set at Louder Than Life festival in Kentucky. The aneurysm – which landed him in 10-and-a-half-hour open-heart surgery – subsequently resulted in Judas Priest postponing the remainder of their 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour.

But despite the seriousness of the incident, and the relatively short period of time since, Faulkner is back tearing up the fretboard, as seen on his latest Instagram Live jam session.

The hour-and-a-half livestream – which took place on Sunday (December 5) – sees Faulkner explore almost everything in his creative arsenal, as he serves up rapid-fire lead licks, thunderous powerchord lines and spacey arpeggiated passages aplenty. Check it out below.

In the days following his hospitalization at the Rudd Heart and Lung Center in Louisville, Kentucky, Faulkner said that doctors had informed him that “people with this don’t usually make it to the hospital alive”, adding that five parts of his chest have now been replaced with “mechanical components”.

“Today just being able to type this to you all is the biggest gift of all,” he wrote back in October. “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.”

Offering an update on the status of his recovery last month, Faulkner wrote: “I was able to return home from hospital 10 days after my surgery to continue recovery at home. It has now been seven weeks since the night it all happened and I'm feeling very strong and positive.

“My incisions have healed very well and I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm walking well and moving freely, I'm pretty active and I'm starting cardiac therapy very soon.

“I'm playing guitar everyday and with the love and support of my family, the continued support from you guys and the inspiration that I get from the guitar, I'll be back on stage in no time! My surgeons are very pleased with my progress and have all reserved front row tickets for the next Priest show.”

Judas Priest are set to play the remaining shows of their postponed 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour from March 2022. At present, it's unclear whether Faulkner will be fit to join the band for the run, though given he's still sharp as ever on the fretboard, we'd say the chances are pretty good.

Prior to the original tour's postponement, Andy Sneap had been filling in for longtime Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2018.

Regarding how he views both Sneap and Tipton in a Guitar World interview earlier this year, Faulkner said: “There's no difference of admiration, really – Andy is up there, he's doing his bit, and he's taking the challenge on, when we asked him to fill in for Glenn.

“Andy is a very take-the-bull-by-the-horns type guy, and he's getting more comfortable with the songs and being up there. All credit to him. Obviously there's a difference, but they have the same tenacity and drive to do their best. You can only give them respect for that.”

Sam Roche

Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.