Former IRON MAIDEN vocalist Paul Di’Anno will undergo his long-delayed knee surgery later this week.
The 63-year-old musician, who has battled a number of health issues in recent years, traveled to Croatia to have the operation, which will be performed by a doctor who is a fan of Di’Anno‘s music.
Earlier today, Kastro Pergjoni, operations director of the Cart & Horses pub in Stratford, London, England where IRON MAIDEN made its live debut in 1976, shared a photo of him with Di’Anno and Paul‘s surgeon at Poliklinika Ribnjak in Zagreb, and he included the following message: “How about this — out of the blue, the doctor here is big Di’Anno fan. Paul you’re in safe hands”.
Di’Anno 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.
A crowdfunding campaign to help Di’Anno with medical costs associated with his treatment recently raised more than £9,401 (approximately $12,500).
Pergjoni, who has been behind Cart & Horses since 2016, leasing the pub from the building’s owners who are converting the beer garden and car park into flats, discussed his fundraising efforts during a 2020 appearance on the “Uncle Steve’s Iron Maiden Zone” podcast. Asked if he has approached the members of IRON MAIDEN themselves to contribute in some way to the Di’Anno campaign, Kastro said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “Myself, no, I haven’t, to be honest, because I don’t wanna put things… What’s the best way to say it now? It’s not up to me to go to them, because I have no connections with IRON MAIDEN themselves. Even when I [need to approach] Steve [Harris, IRON MAIDEN bassist and founder], I go through his friends or his sister sometimes or close friends that he’s got to get stuff from him. But to go to MAIDEN for something that is related to MAIDEN, I don’t think that it is me personally, or Cart & Horses, the ones to contact them. I’d love if they come forward and just cover whatever is left or say whatever, but I don’t think it’s down to me to go to MAIDEN. Because [Paul‘s] got friends and he’s got connections with MAIDEN more than I have, so if MAIDEN wanted to, or if somebody else wanted to, they would have done it. But so far, nothing, unfortunately, no.”
Di’Anno recorded two classic albums with IRON MAIDEN — a self-titled effort in 1980 and “Killers” in 1981 — before being fired and 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.
In a December 2019 interview with the Spanish web site Mariskalrock.com, Di’Anno said that he was lucky to be alive after developing a deadly infection several years ago. “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.”
More than a decade and a half ago, Di’Anno told The Jersulam Post that leaving the MAIDEN juggernaut behind was the best thing that ever happened to him, and that he had no bitter feelings toward his former bandmates. “I absolutely have no regrets about leaving MAIDEN — I wasn’t right in the head at that time to be in the middle of all that,” he said. “I was fed up and disillusioned; it would have been cheating the fans and myself if I had stayed. It was easy to walk away from, and I’m very happy the band got bigger and bigger.”
Several years ago, Di’Anno told Metal Thunder Radio that he wasn’t as involved with MAIDEN‘s songwriting as he would have liked. “Steve had most of the words and the lyrics [to the band’s first album] all written. That was some of the bones of contention that we had in the band — that I didn’t get to write as much as I wanted to. ‘Cause I am actually quite a prolific writer, but a lot of my songs were not accepted. ‘Cause it’s Steve‘s band, obviously.”
He continued: “That first album was a revelation, I’ve gotta tell you. It was amazing. And the second album, for me, not so much. That’s when I started to lose interest a little bit. But [we] still [had] great times — really great times.”
At times, Paul has also publicly displayed his anger toward his former bandmates, most notably during a 2009 press conference in Argentina where he was asked about the rumors that his drug use had something to do with his split with MAIDEN. “Where the fuck do you people get this from?” he asked. “I left IRON MAIDEN because they were going too heavy metal, and IRON MAIDEN is a money-making machine, and I don’t give a fuck about it. It was not about drugs; it was nothing like that. Me and Steve… I [wrote] the song ‘Killers’. Steve had [what he thought] were better songs. I thought his songs were shit. Nothing to do with drugs; nothing whatsoever. Check your facts or otherwise this interview is over… I hate that! I fucking hate that! Because people… You say something but you don’t know. Well, I’m telling you. IRON MAIDEN is Steve Harris‘s band. It doesn’t matter about anybody else — whether it’s Dave Murray, Clive [Burr], me… it’s Steve Harris‘s band and all it is is money, money, money, money — nobody else counts. And I wrote fuckin’ 20-times better songs than his, but I only got one song on the ‘Killers’ album because it’s Steve‘s — he must have this. Fuckin’ Adolf Hitler. I’m not interested. So there you go. But you need to take drugs when you’re with IRON MAIDEN because they’re so fucking boring. And the only drugs were aspirin, because Steve [making hand gesture as if someone is speaking into his ear]… Fuckin’ headache.”
Photo courtesy of Cart & Horses