Burke Shelley, frontman and bass player of legendary Welsh Metallers Budgie, has revealed he’s suffering from a life-threatening illness but has refused an operation which could save him.
Budgie were effectively finished in 2010 when Burke was diagnosed with a six centimetre aortic aneurysm – a dangerous and abnormal swelling of the main artery that supplies blood to the body – whilst on tour in Europe.
Now, a decade later, 69-year-old Burke told WalesOnline he’s turned down surgery for the condition because it might cause irreparable spinal damage and he doesn’t want to spend what time he has left in a wheelchair.
However, he adds that he hopes to release one more album of unheard Budgie songs while he’s still able to do so.
“Doctors have informed me I’ve got another aneurysm, a critical one, even higher up my aorta this time – it’s been there for more than six months.
“They’ve said that they definitely need to operate on it straight away, but I’ve told them no.
“I’m 70 next month and want to live what life I have left and not be crippled.”
Burke also suffers from a Stickler syndrome, a genetic disorder that can cause serious vision, hearing and joint problems, and medical experts can’t say how long he has got.
“It’s all guess work really, but I’ve got faith in God and have no worries about where I’m going.
“So I’ll just go when He decides to take me and, in the meantime, I’ll carry on doing what I want to do. Simple as that.”
The pioneering Budgie looked to be on the cusp of fresh success in 2010 when Burke was first laid low by ill health.
“I was really fit back then and loved going running, swimming,” he says.
“Then I discovered this little bump in my stomach, and, like a typical bloke, ignored it for two years.
“So by the time a doctor looked at it, my aorta had swollen to the size of a balloon.
“We’d just done a warm-up gig in Holland and I then had to tell the rest of the band the whole European tour was off.”
“The surgeon had to cut through my stomach and that messed up my diaphragm.
“It took years to reconcile myself to the fact I’d never sing properly again – in a way, I’m still trying to come to terms with it.
“I can still play bass though and there’s no shortage of ideas for songs. Lots of stuff I want to do but can’t.”
“I’ve got a number of unfinished tracks in the works, along with a series of different vocals I laid down 10 years ago.
“So, technically, yeah – there’s another Budgie album in there somewhere.
“People still come up to me in the street and tell me how much they loved our music. I’m tickled by that.
“Therefore, I want this record to be my last hurrah,” he smiles.
“In fact, that’s what I’ll call it, One Last Hurrah.”