Jazz great guitarist Al Di Meola (69) had a heart attack at a concert in Bucharest on Wednesday and was immediately taken to a clinic. Exclusively to BILD, he talks about the worst moment of his life so far.
The Grammy winner: “It was near the end of the show when I felt a massive pain in the middle of my chest. This pain was ten times worse than anything I had ever known.”
During his performance, Al Di Meola clutches his chest and doubles over in pain
That came without warning. “I didn’t sweat, I didn’t feel nauseous and I didn’t have any pain in my arms, as is the case with many people who suffer a heart attack,” said Di Meola. “I never thought something would happen to my heart. In fact, I had it checked recently and everything was fine. I just don’t understand why this happened.”
Di Meola left the stage – and collapsed there. “I was lying on my back. I was afraid of dying. Because then I would no longer see my wife Stephanie and my daughter Ava again. That was all I was thinking about.”
Family is the most important thing in his life. He tells BILD about Stephanie (36), who comes from Saxony: “She is one in a million. She is the best!” His wife was at home in New Jersey (USA) at the time of the heart attack. When her husband had four stents placed in an emergency operation to keep the artery open, she was on the phone and gave him strength.
After the procedure, she called him with her daughter Ava (7). Di Meola: “We all cried. Ava wanted to know everything about the operation in detail. Now she wants to become a doctor. She’s daddy’s little girl.” Afterwards, Stephanie immediately rushed to him in Bucharest. “It’s great to have her by my side now.”
The heart attack could be triggered by overexertion. “I have always been under stress. “It’s a normal part of my job,” says Di Meola. “But recently it was more than usual because I was switching from one project to the next without taking a break.”
The musician will soon be able to leave the clinic. However, he cannot fly back to the USA because of the risk of blood clots. That’s why the family will spend the next few days in Munich. “This is our second home,” he says. “Since I was 19, that’s where I’ve felt most comfortable outside of the USA. Most importantly, I met Stephanie ten years ago in Munich.”
Now he wants to enjoy time with his family even more. “I can’t describe how wonderful Stephanie and Ava are. You give me a rich life.”
The award-winning U.S. guitarist Al Di Meola suffered a heart attack during a performance in Romania’s capital but is currently in a stable condition and receiving treatment, a hospital spokesperson said on Thursday.
Di Meola, 69, began playing a concert at a venue in Bucharest at 9 p.m. on Wednesday night.
Dragos Cristescu, a photographer who attended the concert, told The Associated Press that he saw Di Meola clasp his chest during the performance and that the guitarist struggled to walk off stage. The other two members of Di Meola’s trio continued to play for several minutes until they announced the show would be cut short.
In a statement, the Bagdasar-Arseni emergency hospital said Di Meola was admitted to a cardiology ward where he is being treated for a segment elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI.
According to the health care website Cleveland Clinic, a STEMI mainly affects the heart’s lower chambers and “tend(s) to be more severe and dangerous compared to other types of heart attack.”
Di Meola’s decades-long career has earned him widespread critical acclaim and awards including a Grammy. One of Di Meola’s most popular tracks is “Mediterranean Sundance,” which was part of his 1977 album “Elegant Gypsy.” According to his official website, he has sold more than 6 million records worldwide.