Don Dokken says his “hands are dead” following surgery, but expects to recover

The metal frontman was left unable to play guitar after neck and spinal surgery

Don Dokken partial paralysis
Don Dokken

    Dokken frontman Don Dokken underwent neck and spinal surgery in November. Complications partially paralyzed his right arm and hand, with Dokken saying “my hands are dead” in a January interview. However, a statement on Dokken’s Facebook page states the metal singer is doing better and expected to fully recover. He also plans to continue playing shows.

    The metal veteran’s health situation sounded dire at the time of the January interview with The Classic Metal Show. The complications from the surgery made daily activity difficult and left him unable to play guitar.

    “It’s been two and a half months since I had spine surgery, and my hands are dead,” Dokken said (as transcribed by Blabbermouth). “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. Twenty minutes to put socks on because one of my hands works a little bit, but not very much.”


    He continued: “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. Or you’re gonna hear about me in the newspaper, because 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 f**ked up. He was supposed to be the best of the best.”

    “At least I can sing,” Dokken said, though he was uncertain of his band’s future. With his condition improving, it appears the band’s upcoming shows — which feature an appearance by guitarist George Lynch — are still happening. Dokken previously overcame stomach cancer and vocal-cord surgery to perform shows after 2012’s Broken Bones despite physical health limitations.

    Once the interview started to be picked up by multiple metal outlets over the weekend, Dokken posted an update on their Facebook page, stating the following:

    “Earlier today a series of interviews were put out on music news websites regarding Don’s health and use of his hands… That interview came out in early January 2020.

    Don had neck and spinal surgery in early November 2019. There were some complications; Don’s right arm and hand were partially paralyzed as well as overall weakness in his body.

    Since that interview in January, Don is doing much better and his doctors do expect him to fully recover but it will take time. He does continue to have difficulty holding items and at this time is unable to play guitar, this does not affect his voice. That being said, there are no changes at this time to the upcoming show schedule.

    Don has been actively writing new music, is in great spirits, looks forward to the upcoming Dokken shows and greatly appreciates the outpouring of support.”


    Dokken had three platinum albums in the ’80s, at the height of their hair-metal fame. Overall, they’ve released 11 studio LPs, most recently 2012’s Broken Bones. The band will play a number of 2020 shows, kicking off in March and scheduled through September. Pick up tickets here.


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