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Legendary rocker Paul Rodgers says health crisis nearly silenced his voice: "I couldn't speak"

Paul Rodgers opens up about health crisis
Bad Company's Paul Rodgers says health crisis nearly took away his ability to sing 06:41

Legendary rocker Paul Rodgers, best known as the frontman for the bands Free and Bad Company, has opened up about a health crisis that almost robbed him of his ability to sing. The singer and songwriter who has been making music for five decades had kept his struggle a secret — until now.

Several years ago, Rodgers suffered 11 minor strokes and two major strokes, leaving him without the ability to speak.

"I couldn't do anything to be honest," Rodgers said. "I couldn't speak. 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?'" 

His first major stroke was in 2016 and the second, in October 2019, led to a major surgery.

Cynthia Kereluk Rodgers, his wife, called the ordeal "terrifying."

"I was just praying," she said. "All I wanted to be able to do was walk and talk with him again. That's all I asked for."

During the surgery, doctors performed an endarterectomy, a procedure to remove plaque clogging a carotid artery, which posed a considerable risk to Rodgers' vocal cords. 

"They told me, they're very clear, 'You may not come out of this alive.' And I said, 'Oh, well, that's a plus, isn't it?'" Rodgers said.

"And when I woke up, I opened my eyes, I thought, 'Oh, I'm still here,'" said Rodgers.

Rodgers' surgeon even played his music during the operation. 

The recovery process was slow, marked by small victories, including Rodgers' return to playing the guitar and singing after six months. 

"Each thing was a step forward. Each thing that I did was an achievement … 'Oh, I can do this. I can sing,'" Rodgers said. 

With the support of his family, Rodgers returned to the studio in Vancouver a year and a half ago, where he recorded his new album, "Midnight Rose."

His wife emotionally recalled hearing him sing again, calling it "amazing" and "just phenomenal."

"I didn't think that would ever happen," she said.

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