Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers opens up about multiple strokes: 'I couldn't speak'

Paul Rodgers is opening up for the first time about health challenges he's been facing.

In an interview with "CBS Mornings" aired Wednesday, the legendary singer and Bad Company frontman spoke about the two major and 11 minor strokes he had over the last few years that almost took away his ability to sing.

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

Paul Rodgers
Paul Rodgers

His wife, Cynthia Kereluk Rodgers, said the first stroke was in 2016 and the second in October 2019, which sent him into major surgery. She said it was terrifying, but she didn't have time to address her feelings because it would take time away from his healing process.

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

According to "CBS Mornings," Rodgers' surgeon said he needed an endarterectomy, a procedure to remove plaque clogging a corroded artery. Rodgers said he was told he may not come out of the surgery alive because surgeons had to cut his neck, near his vocal cords. Doctors played Bad Company during the surgery.

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

Recovery was slow, and it took six months for him to play the guitar again. Rodgers said each thing he did felt like an "achievement."

Rodgers returned to the studio in Vancouver and began work on an album. He released his first solo album in decades earlier this month, "Midnight Rose" via Sun Records. Rodgers' wife said she thought music would be his way back.

"And it was, actually," he said. "It definitely was."

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Paul Rodgers: Singer, Bad Company frontman talks strokes, speech loss