Former IRON MAIDEN singer Paul Di'Anno says that he is lucky to be alive after developing a deadly infection several years ago.
Di'Anno has battled a number of health issues in recent years. He reportedly underwent an operation in 2016 to remove a "rugby ball-sized abscess" on his lungs and required a knee-replacement operation on both knees after getting involved in several motorcycle accidents over the years. As a result, Di'Anno was forced to sit down while performing at his most recent shows.
In an interview with the Spanish web site Mariskalrock.com conducted by Jason Cenador, the vocalist spoke about his health problems and discussed his plans for the future.
"I nearly died four years ago," Paul revealed. "I had sepsis in Argentina. I was very, very sick. I just about made it home to England and then straight to hospital. I've been in and out of the hospital for four years now. I had operations done on both legs. I [haven't been able to] walk for four years. It's been very, very tough for me at the moment. Because of the sepsis, I keep getting infections, so they can't do the operations on my legs and stuff like that when they want to do them. And it's been very difficult. At the moment, I've only got one knee. The other knee has been taken out, but there's no new knee put in, so it's been a cement thing. But I wanna play, obviously, but I can't do that until I'm fixed. I haven't stopped playing music, and I've got no plans to retire — I wanna keep playing — but I need to get well."
Elaborating on his recovery process, Di'Anno said: "I'm not getting better and better — not yet, until I've had both of my knees operated on. The next operation is gonna be to take my left knee out and then put a replacement straight away, which then I've gotta do rehab to try to stand up on that one leg. And then I can sort of move about on crutches after a while, which would be fantastic. I may have to sit down on the stage, but if I can get up on one leg, it makes it easier for flying and things like that. I still may have to travel around on a wheelchair a bit, but if I'm playing on stage in a wheelchair, at least I can hop about on the crutches and then maybe sit down and sing. But I caught another infection two weeks ago, which they will not operate on you while you've got an infection. Unfortunately, this is gonna be the rest of my life, because of sepsis. I was so lucky. The sepsis really hits you hard, and on the London plane home from Argentina, everyone was saying to me, 'Hello, sir. Are you okay? Are you okay?' And I'm, like, 'Yeah, why don't you fuck off and leave me alone?' sort of thing. I didn't realize I was actually dying. And when I actually got home and I collapsed on the floor, I had my cell phone with me. I was on my own, 'cause my wife and kids were over in America. I got the ambulance people. They came down and they kicked my door in and took me to the hospital. I spent eight months in that hospital... And you've got 45 minutes to pump you full of antibiotics or you'll die. I just about made that. Eight months recovery there, then into a care home for another three months, and then I moved into this new house of mine, which is adapted for wheelchair users at the moment... And then it's been unlucky with the infections; otherwise I would have been up and running by now. But they won't operate on me for two years, with sepsis, because you have to make sure it's completely clear of you. And now I've got this other thing called MRSA, which you get from being in hospital, which is unfortunate. But, anyway, at the moment, I'm clearing out very well, so I'm waiting for the next call I get, which will be for surgery, and get things done".
Pressed about whether he is optimistic that he will be able to return to the stage someday, he told Mariskalrock.com: "Yeah. Fuckin' damn right. If I can't play music, I might as well fuckin' kill myself. So, yeah, I'm fine. As I said, once they have taken the left knee out and then put the replacement one in, I've got rehab to do. And the rehab will be learning to stand up and use crutches and move around with one leg, 'cause the other one, it's a very complicated operation on the right leg... I'm waiting for the surgeons to call me in. This operation will take about three hours to put the knee in, and then it's all rehab, rehab, rehab to strengthen my leg and [be able] to stand up on that one leg, 'cause the other one, I can't put it down on the floor, 'cause it's only got cement inside of it. There's no knee in the right one either, so that will be taken out. That one is a complicated operation — about nine hours. But this first one, if I can stand on crutches and get used to it after… I'll be in hospital for two weeks, and then it's all rehab, rehab — strengthen the left leg up, so I can hop about on the crutches and move around. It makes it easier for me to fly, and then I can go on stage. I may have to sit down on the stage in a chair, but at least I can go back on stage… And then, when they do the right leg, then I'll be all right to do everything. It's gonna take time. Unfortunately, it's two years where they will not operate on anything 'cause of the sepsis. And that's a two-year gap. And now all these infections are fucking me up."
Di'Anno was also asked if he has used the time away from the road to work on new music. He replied: "We've been writing. My head is not in the right frame of mind at the moment, 'cause I must concentrate on getting well. It's not just the knee; it's the infection, which makes you feel really sick. You're in pain 24 hours a day. It's not easy. Even doing these interviews, where all you wanna do is just try and get some sleep. I'm lucky if I get two hours of sleep every day or every night... Yeah, we've been writing a bit. I've got a few ideas here and there, but, as I said, I can't concentrate fully because I wanna get myself well… My main concern is to get back on stage. I wanna play — I wanna play, I wanna play. It's driving me fucking mad not doing anything and not being able to go out. I can't even go out the house at the moment in case I get an infection again. So I'm pretty much a prisoner in my own home at the moment. So my major concern at the moment is to get my legs fixed up. And once I've gotten them fixed up, then the infections will get less and less, which will be great, and then get out on tour. Touring is first — touring is always number one. And then we'll consider what we're doing with albums and stuff like that after. I'm not gonna put myself under pressure like that. The main pressure is to get well"
Di'Anno recorded two classic albums with IRON MAIDEN before being replaced by Bruce Dickinson. He went on to front a number of other bands, including KILLERS and BATTLEZONE, and released several solo records.
In March 2011, Di'Anno was sentenced to nine months in a U.K. prison after he falsely collected government benefits by claiming he suffered nerve damage to his back that prevented him from working.
Di'Anno completed his first North American tour in early 2010, 17 years after he was deported following a prison term for guns and drug offenses.
Special thanks to Jason Cenador and Mariskalrock.com for providing the audio of the original interview which formed the basis for this article.