In a new interview with Guy “Favazz” Favazza of the St. Louis, Missouri radio station KSHE 95, legendary FREE and BAD COMPANY frontman Paul Rodgers spoke about his recent health crisis that almost left him unable to sing. The 73-year-old singer suffered 11 minor strokes and two major strokes — one in 2016 and another in October 2019 — several years ago, leaving him unable to talk. Rodgers eventually underwent an endarterectomy, a procedure to remove plaque clogging a carotid artery, which posed a considerable risk to his vocal cords.
Asked if he is healthy now, Paul told KSHE 95: “Yeah, thank you. Thank God, really. But I do thank hyperbaric (oxygen therapy) as well, which is the treatment you can get. You just sit in there, oxygen under pressure. The only thing you feel is a little bit in your ears; it’s like flying on a little puddle jumper airplane. But that’s all. And then you just watch a movie for an hour and you’re done. You breathe in and (the oxygen) recirculates through your brain and it’s very good. It took a year and a half to get my voice back after all that stroke.”
Asked if he was worried about his voice while recovering from his strokes, Paul said: “Definitely, yeah, because I had an operation — endarterectomy, I think it’s called. Actually, they have to cut your throat. They have to incubate it to do that. And they get very close to the vocal cords. But I had a great surgeon, Dr. Lawlor. He’s in Vancouver now. And he said, ‘I knew that you were a vocalist and I was careful to keep the knife away from your vocal cords.”
Rodgers first opened up about his latest health scare last month during an interview which aired on “CBS Mornings”. Rodgers said that he “couldn’t do anything” after he suffered his strokes. “I couldn’t speak, “he said. “That was the very strange thing. You know, I’d prepare something in my mind and I’d say it, but that isn’t what came out and I’d go, ‘What the heck did I just say?'”
Regarding the endarterectomy he underwent, Rodgers said: “They cut the neck, and (the doctor) said that he was very careful because he knew I was a singer and that when you cut the neck, it’s very close to the vocal cord. They told me, they were very clear, ‘You may not come out of this alive.'”
It took Rodgers six months after the surgery to return to playing the guitar and singing and considerably longer than that to regain his full singing voice. “Each thing was a step forward,” he explained. “Each thing that I did was an achievement … ‘Oh, I can do this. I can sing,'”
Paul eventually returned to the studio in Vancouver and began recording his new album, “Midnight Rose”, which came out on September 22. The effort marks his first solo LP of new music in nearly 25 years.
The British icon got his Canadian citizenship in 2011, four years after marrying British Columbia fitness expert Cynthia Kereluk, the 1984 Miss Canada title holder best known for the long-running series “Everyday Workout”.
Rodgers ranked No. 55 on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
Rodgers fronted QUEEN between 2004 and 2009. With Rodgers at the mic, QUEEN embarked on two world tours and released an album, “The Cosmos Rocks”, in 2008. They amicably parted ways a year later when Rodgers returned to BAD COMPANY.
As vocalist with FREE, BAD COMPANY and THE FIRM in the 1970s and 1980s, Rodgers reportedly sold more than 90 million records.