Top Ten Near Career Ending Injuries In Rock

When we think of career ending injuries, we usually think of athletes or physical occupations like lumberjack but the same can be true for musicians, especially rock musicians. Think about how even small injuries can affect a musician’s job. A guitarist loses a finger can be catastrophic. But even bad injuries can sometimes be overcome and that’s what we’re focusing on today, the Top Ten Near Career Ending Injuries in Rock!

10) Tony Iommi Loses Some Fingers

Early on his path as a guitarist, Tony Iommi nearly had his future destroyed by an industrial accident. While working in a sheet metal plant, Iommi lost the tips of his middle and ring finger on his right hand. Being a left handed guitarist, Iommi thought his playing days were over until his foreman introduced him to the music of Django Reinhardt, another guitarist with a hand injury. Iommi adapted making finger thimbles for his hand as well as using lighter strings (originally banjo strings) all of which affected his sound and lead to the Sabbath we know and love.

9) James Hetfield Is Lit Up Like A Roman Candle

August 8th, 1992, James Hetfield and the rest of Metallica take to the stage in Montreal and everything seems to be going alright until “Fade to Black” when a pyrotechnic mishap occurred, burning Hetfield’s face and hands. Luckily, Jame’s guitar took the brunt of the damage. While serious, James recovered and was back playing guitar a month later.

8) Ozzy Osbourne Rides An ATV, Crashes, Brakes A Lot Of Things

Ozzy is no stranger to near death experiences but in December of 2003, Ozzy went for an ATV ride… and crashed. He ended up braking his collar bone, eight ribs and one of the vertebra in his neck. Any other man might retire at that point but not Ozzy. He’s currently on tour with Sabbath.

7) Scott Stapp Falls From A Great Height, Vocal Cords Left Undamaged

Drugs and alcohol can lead to bas decisions, like the delusions of Scott Stapp one night during a binge. Fleeing imaginary cops, Stapp dove from a balcony and fell 40 feet to the ground (fracturing his skull). In a weird twist of fate, Stapp was found by rapper T.I. and called for an ambulance thus helping to bring about a Creed reunion…. which is good… I guess…

6) Al Jourgonsen Get’s Bit By A Spider… Nearly Loses His Arm

Al Jourgonsen is my generation’s Keith Richards. I am sure it will take a nuke to finally kill him.  That being said, he’s had some near calls over the years between ods and bus meltings but the closest to a career ending injury he’s ever come to is when he got bit by a spider. Sleeping on a heroin dealer’s couch, Al got bit by a brown recluse, a fairly poisonous spider. The poison raced up his arm and was getting close to offing Jourgensen and the doctor’s solution was amputation. Playing guitar with one arm is a fairly hard and Al somehow managed to talk the doctor’s out of it.  He’s still playing guitar and put out Ministry’s final album not too long ago.

5) Johnny Cash Fights An Ostrich, Nearly Gets Disembowelled

So at one point, the Man in Black had an ostrich named Waldo who nearly killed him. Cash had a small zoo out back of the House of Cash and during a bad winter in 1981, Cash began to move many of the animal into warmer shelters. Waldo however was not having any of it and a fight ensued between man and bird with the bird getting the upper hand, crashing on top of Cash breaking five ribs and tearing his stomach up rather badly. The only thing stopping total evisceration? A belt buckle that caught the bird’s claws before rendering the country legend dead.

4) Dave Mustaine Falls Asleep Causing Nerve Damage

Mustaine has long been a metal god but he’s had some problems with drugs in the past. Due to a kidney stone surgery and pain killers, Dave Mustaine had a relapse and checked himself into treatment. Unfortunately he passed out. Have you ever fallen asleep in a weird position and woken up the next day and it hurt your neck or back? In Mustaine’s case he fell asleep with his arm around the back of a chair causing severe nerve damge. It was so bad that Mustaine broke up Megadeth and thought he’d never play guitar again. But with a lot of rehab and practice, Mustaine brought his chops back up and Megadeth tours and records as we speak.

3) Curtis Mayfield Paralyzed By A Lighting Rig

In the past few years, stage collapses have become an unfortunate  occurrence on the news, but in 1990, it wasn’t as wide spread. Unfortunately in August of that year it became known to everyone in the music industry when a lighting rig crashed to Earth, paralyzing soul sing Curtis Mayfield from the neck down.  Seven years later, Mayfield released a great album which he sang on and directed all of the parts.

2) Stevie Wonder Goes Into A Coma, Then Writes One Of His Best Albums

In 1973, Stevie Wonder was in the passenger seat of a car that got into a serious accident. Reports differ (the most common one involves Wonder being struck in the head by a log through the windshield) but the end result was still the same, Wonder was in a coma for four days. Doctors feared that he had sustained brain damage and if he ever came out of the coma, he wouldn’t be the same. Stevie came out of the coma and put together Songs in the Key Of Live, one of his best works.

1) Rick Allen Loses An Arm, Becomes A Thunder God

Rick Allen was a drummer of note for the band Def Leppard. Tallented, his band was on the rise in 1984 and then he had a car accident. Where he lost an arm. A drummer losing an arm is probably the worst thing that could happen to him is losing an arm. But this would not stop Allen. Creating a electronic drum set that would trigger sounds via foot peddles. He wanted to drum so bad he transferred his skills into his feet!

And as always, if you have any thoughts, feel free to contribute them in the comment section below!

Brent Chittenden

Brent Chittenden is a freelance writer with a gift for the geek. Currently a writer with A Journal Of Musical Things and a podcaster with True North Nerds, he's also written for Comic Book Daily, Explore Music and a dozen other places. Currently, he is the co-host of the True North Nerds podcast. You can find out more at

Brent Chittenden has 195 posts and counting. See all posts by Brent Chittenden

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