Buckethead Has a Life-Threatening Heart Problem: 'I Could Be Gone Tomorrow'

"I went to the doctor and they said, 'You're on the verge of having a stroke.'"

logo
Ultimate Guitar
Buckethead Has a Life-Threatening Heart Problem: 'I Could Be Gone Tomorrow'
21

Buckethead revealed he is struggling with a life-threatening heart problem, saying on the Coming Alive Podcast (via Alternative Nation):

"Well, really recently - I have a heart problem where my heart beats out of rhythm.

"It's been doing it for a long time, but recently it just really kicked up and became really intense. I really didn't know what was going on.

"I just tried to deal with it and let it do what it did, and eventually it would stop. But it got really intense, so I went to the doctor and they said, 'You're on the verge of having a stroke.'

"I'm like, 'Wow...' Because I felt so good prior to having it, I was doing pretty well and everything.

"They suggested I had a thing called an ablation, they go in and freeze your heart. It's supposed to do something with the nerves, because they said my heart was fine, but it could be a genetic thing, they didn't really know.

"I had that procedure, and it didn't really stop it, and I'm still dealing with it. I take medication, which is tough, because I never took anything my whole life, although if I eat food or drink something that's probably worse anyway. [Laughs]

"So it's been really difficult, it's scary. Even walking across a room is difficult. Luckily the medication I'm thankful for, because it's kept it from going berserk. But it's pretty intense.

"It seems like now I'm letting this thing sort of exist now in me, I can't really escape it.

"I'm always aware of the intensity of my heartbeat, it's just not something that I'd ever experienced, so it definitely kind of scares me. But I also see that it is also doing a lot of good, because I need to do all of the things I want to do.

"I just feel an urgency now."

The guitarist also said during the interview:

"I mean, the day after I had that procedure, I recorded a record with my friend. I just lied in bed and recorded it, because I felt like, I'm here still.

"I could be gone tomorrow. Anybody could be gone, but that's a heavy experience. I want to play right now, and I want to play that experience."

Buckethead also mentioned that both of his parents passed away in the last few years, which has been rough on him, explaining how he's playing the guitar lighter now to relax.

63 comments sorted by best / new / date

    DropDeee
    I'm a huge fan of his and really connect with his music like no other band or guitarist.  I pretty much listen to him on a daily basis.   If he's taken from this world before his time I would feel like I lost a family member.     
    farcry
    Me too. He's a kindred spirit, I always felt like we'd immediately be best friends.
    jasperado
    i have so much love for bucket, i've been listening to his music since i saw him with les claypool in like 04 and he blew me away live, and ever since i've grown more familiar with him and his humor and he feels like family to me, i even took my mom to a few of his shows and she loved it too.  I saw him like a month ago and he wasn't doing nun chucks but still played a hell of a show, i hope he lives another healthy 30 years at least.
    milesak
    Dude must be worried to. How often does he break character?
    diablo9333
    Good point. I don't think I've ever seen/heard an interview with Buckethead, where he didn't change his voice. Then again, I don't spend a lot of time searching up interviews of him. So, I could have missed one. 
    milesak
    If you look up Buckethead interviews, you tend to just find videos of other people talking about him. Guy's super secretive, I've heard a few people say that there's only a handful of people he allows to hang around with him without the mask on.
    diablo9333
    I've also seen interviews of him putting a mask on his hand, and using it as a puppet to speak on his behalf (disguising his voice, of course). He's definitely secretive, which is why I don't search for interviews or personal stuff of him often...because the likelihood of me finding them are slim. Anyways...this is very concerning.  
    milesak
    Oh yeah, those videos are super creepy, when he's talking about disembodied chickens and shit. Bucket's a weird dude.
    Wiencon
    Can you recommend 3 albums to listen to in order to get into his music? I've heard some of the most populars songs and they were ok but I would like to hear the whole thing
    ColonelRimfire
    Buckethead is most known for his crazy shredding skills. He has a mellower side that amazing too. Check these ones out - 1. Electric Tears, 2. Electric Sea, & 3. Shadows Between The Sky
    KewlBeans
    he has such a huge range it depends on what you are going for. i´d suggest population override, a real diamond in the rough and look up there/shadows  Between the sky. these are all pretty easy to swallow yet complex. shred yet mellow and with a lot of melody
    DropDeee
    his catalogue is so diverse and extensive that it'd be hard to pick just three albums to capture his style but I'll give you a few that I'd recommend.   His music isn't the kind of 'Sit there and stare at your screen while you listen and judge'...   it's not commercial style music, a lot of tracks push the 10 minute mark, even going out to 30 minutes on some pieces so if you're working at your computer or on a fair drive, it's great music for your thoughts. Anyway, these are the ones I really like... Pike #71 - 'Celery'.    A 30 minute piece with a lot of emotion as well as being on the rock side of things.  A 5 minute intro then the 25 minute solo kicks in.   At around 13:30 it shifts into this recurring riff that is so cool. Pike #217 - 'Pike Doors'    This one is a regular for me when I'm chilling at home or working on my laptop.  It has a 17 minute super-mellow and ambient intro then kicks into gear with a heavier second half. Pike #65 - 'Hold Me Forever'.    Dedicated to his mum as she passed away not long before he made it.  The first 30 seconds gives you a great idea of the tone throughout and is a very popular album with his fans. To finish, I'll list some individual songs that I regularly listen to... The Spirit Winds Coastline For Mom Cove Cavernous Along The River Bank Witches on the Heath Whitewash (live at Langerado) Beware of the Holding Funnel (live) 'New untitled Song' (live) Telescape 2 I Love My Parents Pathless Road Project Little Man Wall To Wall Cobwebs The Light in the Fog Underwater Raindrops Dawn Appears Sail on Soothsayer Blue Lone Lagoon His music is not for everyone but I personally consider him to be the greatest musician to impact my life.   Happy listening
    Pretelethal
    That's awful. I guess, in a way, it explains his rapid release schedule though - getting out all the music he has in his head while he still has a chance.. Hope things improve, Bucket
    svelle
    I also explains why he hasn't put out as many releases in the past few months as he did before.
    argarg1313
    Nice to actually see all of the comments on an article (at least this far) being supportive. Hope the best for Buckethead, he is one of my favorites. 
    motoxer09
    Sounds like A-Fib, which is incredibly common and is drastically increases the chances of blood clots leading to stroke. Sucks that the ablation didn't help, but if he sticks to his medication regimen he should be okay.  
    HardAttack
    The way he described it sounds kind of like a heart block to me. A-fib makes the atria contract rapidly but you often won't feel it. A shame either way since Buckethead is so young.
    negativefx
    Google defines it as "the loss of surface material from a spacecraft or meteorite through evaporation or melting caused by friction with the atmosphere."  I think this means Buckethead is more akin to Superman than humans.
    smccarthy705
    My father passed away of a similar condition about 20 years ago. I'm told I have a chance of inheriting it as well but was always too afraid to get checked. I know how scary it can feel living with these thoughts that you're heart could potentially stop working. I wish the best for him
    jknudson36
    I always hypothetically feared him passing away somehow but rather in a freak accident kind of way, just because it felt unfathomable that he could ever be gone since I really got into him. He's my favorite guitarist. This article feels unreal. I hope for the best for him. It hurts a lot to hear this.
    Spinnerweb
    It's beautiful how he's so passionate that he decided to record what he was feeling. Lots of people say that he's not musical and sounds like R2-D2 but I always thought he did love the guitar much more than most people do. Best of luck to him.
    farcry
    Get well Brian you beautiful human, we were lucky to have him here at all.
    --ESTRANGED--
    As far as 'guitar heroes' go, Bucket is right up there for me and has been for a decade now, not only have I admired his music, but every time you hear a musician he's worked with talk about him, they always say that he's one of the kindest people they've met. It's sad to hear about him like this and the things he's gone through recently, I hope behind the Bucket persona he has someone there for him.  
    dennis.1960
    This is really too bad, I hope he can recover.  Heart stuff is extra fucking scary because you only have one  
    slash1626
    I'm assuming this is A-Fib. It's dangerous but not nearly as much at his age. As long as you're on blood thinners there's really no danger of clots and it's quite manageable. Also I believe ablation only has a success rate of 70% or so I believe so it can be repeated a few times if needed. The surgery basically scars a little spot on your heart that is giving random electrical signals so fix it so it can be hard to really identify that spot and there can be more than one. It can really kick the shit out of you if you're out of rhythm for a while but once you're diagnosed it's really not that dangerous. Having this at 23, I don't know about him but when I have it I definitely feel it and it just feels like you're completely gassed and can't catch your breath while your hearts going like 180bpm. The story makes it sound much scarier than it really is so as long as he's taking his meds he'll be alright! 
    Tempoe
    I think he'll be ok if the heart itself is fine, the brain will reboot it if it fails, Maybe he needs exercise, would it help or hurt him I wonder.  Life is fragile, reality is any one of us could go before him, healthy or not, so have a great day today!
    Exwic
    Listening to this is a little bit strange for me. I'm a big fan of him but to actually hear him outside of character is so fresh. I don't know how to explain it. At first it is like killing a dream because its like a kid seeing a Disney character with the top half of the costume off. But once you get past that initial shock you can really hear how much love he has for the guitar and what he puts into the music and his whole life being pretty much all about the music and not the Buckethead persona. Knowing more about him at a human level is just absolutely fantastic. 
    maverick9771
    I hope it works put for him. You never know when stuff like this can happen. I had a very minor stroke when i was 23 but when i get dehydrated my right arm still feels wrong, like its not quite where my body tells me it should be. It's hard to explain..
    imjackcarver
    kinda funny, i would describe my MVP very similarly to what he's describing. i hope i don't have a stroke, i ain't old enough for that shit!
    sambargun
    This is really sad and I hope he makes it. But to be absolutely honest, it was pretty obvious that there was something wrong. He was really tall and lean with thin skinny fingers. I always thought he might have Marfans and the mask was also a way of keeping his real features hidden. Again this is really sad as I listened to Project Little Man thrice yesterday.....
    sweepinblues
    I never really checked him out but just listened to Soothsayer. Im ready to sell all my gear and take up knitting. ugh! 
    Shadowhunter123
    Man, you barely know a thing about his personal life, and now this coming up, it's mind-struggling. He is definitely one of the most creative guitarists I know and I cannot think of any other guitarist taking his place. I wish him all the best!
    metalme31
    “But I also see that it is also doing a lot of good, because I need to do all of the things I want to do.” Like what? Try to record a hundred albums or more in one ye.... oh wait... he’s done that already. All jokes aside, he’s without a doubt one of a kind and I hope things go well for him. I don’t think I can read his name in the past tense on any of these websites. So many great musicians have been taken way too soon over the years and I don’t want bucket head on that list. Stay strong and take care of yourselves!