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When Rob Halford Was Told He Might Not Wake Up After Surgery

Rob Halford
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Rob Halford recalled the time a surgeon told him he might not wake up from a “very, very dangerous” back procedure in 2013.

The Judas Priest singer had suffered an injury he called “evil” at the time, saying he was in “agony,” but predicted that “the Metal God will be bouncing back and everything will be great.” While he was able to return to touring, he revealed he was no longer able to ride his motorcycle.

In a recent interview with LiveSigning, Halford explained what happened in more detail. “I had this horrible, horrible herniated disc that was pushing on my sciatic nerve,” he said. “Oh, man, it’s brutal – it’s absolutely brutal. … I couldn’t stand up straight, it was so bad. … I had this amazing surgeon, Spencer Harland, who did this very, very dangerous back surgery. … We did all the X-rays and the MRIs and blah-blah-blah, and he goes, ‘Well, we can try the manipulation … but it could [take] months and months and months.’ I said, ‘I don’t have time. I’ve gotta get back on the road.’ So we did the operation.”

Halford recounted his conversation with Harland, an experienced neurosurgeon based in the singer’s home town of Birmingham, England. “Before the operation, he came into the room and sat at the end of the bed. … He said, ‘I’m just gonna read you the bill of rights.’ ‘What is that?’ ‘It’s a medical thing in the U.K.’ ‘Okay.’ ‘You may not wake up.’ ‘What?’ ‘You may not wake up.’ ‘Okay.’ ‘You may become incontinent.’ I’m an old guy – I’m getting there already. … And I’m going, ‘Oh, my God, I’m lying here in excruciating pain and now he’s throwing this stuff at me.’ I said, ‘Let’s just do it, Spencer. Let’s go.’”

When Halford awoke three or four hours later, the pain was “completely” gone, but there was a downside. “My back is significantly weaker now,” he noted. “Trying to pick up a box of books, I can’t do that – it’s just too troublesome for me. My back’s in good shape now, compared to how it was. So, as a result of that, sadly, I don’t ride anymore.”


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