DON DOKKEN Says His Recent Spine Surgery Left Him Unable To Play Guitar
February 8, 2020
Don Dokken has spoken out about his recent spine surgery, saying it left him unable to play guitar.
The 66-year-old DOKKEN leader discussed his health during a January 11, 2020 interview with "The Classic Metal Show".
He said (hear audio below): "It's been two and a half months since I had spine surgery, and my hands are dead. They don't move. It's very strange.
"It's an interesting way to live your life. You've gotta learn how to feed yourself, wipe your butt, brush your teeth, dress yourself. [It takes] 20 minutes to put socks on, 'cause one of my hands works a little bit, but not very much.
"I'm hoping — I'm trying to stay positive — that maybe some miracle will happen and slowly the nerves will reconnect and my hands will start working again," he continued. "Or you're gonna hear about me in the newspaper, 'cause I'm gonna go to the [surgeon's] office and I'm gonna go over to the desk and I'm gonna pummel his face. And I'm serious. That guy fucked up. He was supposed to be the best of the best.
"After they put me under, I said two things: 'Don't kill me. 'Don't paralyze me.' That's what I said. I swear to God. And he's, like, 'That's why you came to me. I'm the best.' So I wake up in the hospital, and I'm, like, 'How come my hands don't move?' 'How come my fingers don't move?' 'How come my hands are on fire?' 'How come I can barely walk? I'm on a walker. What the fuck did you do, man?' And he goes, 'Well, it happens sometimes.' I love it when surgeons go, 'Well, shit happens. It only happens in one of a thousand surgeries.' So I'm Mr. One Thousand, apparently. So, I'm not happy about it."
At the time of the interview, Don said that he still needed to "figure out what to do" once he goes on tour with DOKKEN starting in March. "Obviously, I can't dress myself," he explained. "I can't get my clothes on. I can't feed myself — I really can't. So I'm trying to find someone to go on tour with me to basically babysit me. At least I can sing. My voice feels great. I just can't hold a microphone.'"
According to Don, he is doing "physical therapy four days a week — on a bike, and I'm pedaling my ass off, building up my leg strength, building up my arms… What's left of my arms — my arms are completely atrophied.
"I don't know what's gonna happen with my whole hands situation," he said. "They're still paralyzed. So I think my guitar-playing days are obviously over. But that's okay. I got 50 years to play guitar."
He went on to describe his health status as "very depressing." He explained: "I got these special forks and a special spoon that you slip a band over your wrist and it holds the fork in place. I'm eating like a three-year-old… [But] I'm hoping for the best. And that's why I pushed the tour back to March. That gives me four more months to get something going on. 'Cause I don't know what to do. I can't play guitar. That's off the plate — that's not gonna happen again, I don't think. They said I'll maybe get 30 percent back. But the thing is, what do you do when you're on the road? How do I put a seat belt on a plane? How do I dress myself? How do I put my shoes on? How do I put my shirt on? All that shit I can't do right now, and it really sucks. So I'm thinking maybe getting a personal assistant to go on the road and basically dress me and get me ready and stick the mic in my hand and I'll go on stage and do the best I can."
Just four days after Don's latest interview with "The Classic Metal Show" aired, he was inducted into the Metal Hall Of Fame in Anaheim, California. He gave a short acceptance speech and performed at the gala, where he was also interviewed by Desde El Underground TV. Video of that chat can be seen below.
Following the release of DOKKEN's latest album, 2012's "Broken Bones", he was ruthlessly criticized by fans after radiation treatments from a bout with stomach cancer and eventual vocal-cord surgery hurt his performances.
Late last month, DOKKEN announced a number of live appearances this year which will include what is being billed as a "special encore performance" featuring Don Dokken and George Lynch.
DOKKEN's classic lineup — Dokken, Lynch, bassist Jeff Pilson and drummer "Wild" Mick Brown — reunited for a short Japanese tour in the fall of 2016. The trek marked the first time in 21 years the four musicians had hit the road together.
A DOKKEN concert DVD focusing on the band's reunion tour, "Return To The East Live (2016)", was made available in 2018.
Since completing the Japanese reunion dates, DOKKEN has continued to perform with the group's current lineup — including bassist Chris McCarvill and guitarist Jon Levin.
DOKKEN is currently working on material on a new studio album, tentatively due later in the year via Silver Lining Music, the label owned by Thomas Jensen, one of the founders of Germany's Wacken Open Air festival.