Udo Dirkschneider is dealing with a "serious health" issue and and will be "a bit handicapped on stage" during U.D.O.'s upcoming tour.
The former ACCEPT frontman, who turned 66 last April, has ignored doctors' advice when deciding whether to return to the road and will join his bandmates as they kick off a European run of headlining shows on January 20 in Madrid, Spain.
Earlier today, the following message was posted on the U.D.O. Facebook page:
"Dear U.D.O. fans,
"Unfortunately, we have to tell you that Udo has a serious health problem since early January. He has pain in his left knee and couldn't walk at all for a longer period. He has been to different specialists in Russia, Ibiza and Germany and now he is on a good way to recover. But he is still handicaped and can't move that much without having pain.
"Against all advises of the doctors, he has decided to play the tour and not postponing it since he hates to let his fans down. But this means that he is a bit handicapped on stage and can't move that much. We are very sorry for this, but we still have the opinion that this is better than postponing the complete tour.
"Thanks and see you all on tour!"
In a 2018 interview with Minnesota's "The Five Count" radio show, Dirkschneider said that he had no thoughts of slowing down. "I like to be on tour," he said. "I like to make new albums and, you know, it's like I always say, as long as I have fun and my voice is working and people come to the shows, I don't know, maybe I can do this for another 10 years or whatever. I don't know. At the moment, there is no thinking of retiring or stuff like that."
Although it has been reported that Dirkschneider suffered a heart attack nearly 30 years ago, he told Metallian that the reality was a bit different. "Around 1990, I had — what is the word — a body breakdown and not a heart attack. I was overworked, singing, recording, writing songs, producing and even being a manager. I was working on other albums. It was too much. It was not a a heart attack. I remember the reports. I don't know where the report on a heart attack came from. In a way, I am lucky. I have never had a problem with my voice. I have managed to stay healthy. I also stopped smoking [in 2003]. Especially, while on tour, you have to do your best to stay healthy. I always say that I am lucky, I am very lucky. Of course, we get drunk sometimes, but I never party or take drugs or something like that. I have always been a healthy man."
U.D.O.'s current lineup includes Udo's son and drummer Sven Dirkschneider, bassist Tilen Hudrap and guitarists Andrey Smirnov and Dee Dammers.
Bassist Fitty Wienhold, who joined U.D.O. in 1996, announced his departure from the band in September, saying in a statement that he "decided to take a new way" in his life.
U.D.O.'s latest album, "Steelfactory", was released in August via AFM.