Unfortunately, there was nothing around to protect Neeson.
The singer ruptured his right Achilles tendon during the third song of Cocked N’ Loaded’s 10th anniversary show at the Cambridge rock club. He and his band banged out seven more songs, all while leaning heavily on his left leg, to finish off the set before heading to the Emergency Room.
“You know that picture that’s everywhere, me doing the David Lee Roth double toe tap?” Neeson tells Vanyaland today. “I was doing one of those, real early in the set, and when I went up in the air I heard and felt a pop, and the muscle in my calf contracted. I kept all my weight on my left foot and leg for the rest of the night, because the right ankle felt like jelly. There was no pull in the back of my leg.”
But rock and roll waits for no man, and Neeson’s train kept rolling.
“It hurt like a motherfucker, but I had some alcohol in me and everybody was singing in my face, so the adrenaline and endorphins helped,” he adds. “We finished the set with ‘Whole Lotta Rosie,’ and my sister and some friends took me to the ER. They diagnosed me with a ruptured Achilles tendon and put me on drugs. Going back next week, gonna talk about when to do surgery.”
The Achilles is the strongest tendon in the human body, and serves to connect the calf muscles to heel bones. Usually we hear about athletes suffering these types injuries, and the recovery time is anywhere from six to nine months. According to a March 2010 report on Lower Extremity Review, 36 percent of National Football League players who suffer Achilles tears or ruptures never make it back to an NFL field, and those who do make it back need roughly 11 months of recovery and rehabilitation time. In this past NHL season, Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson returned from tearing his left Achilles tendon after two-and-a-half months, and it was considered miraculous. Other athletes like Kobe Bryant (NBA), Demaryius Thomas (NFL), and David Beckham (Serie A) have all suffered various injuries to their Achilles tendon.
And those, like pretty much everyone who has dealt with this sort of thing, immediately fell to the ground and was helped or carted or wheeled off the field. How Neeson remained on stage to play seven songs over another half-hour or so is crazy.
“I couldn’t stop,” Neeson says. “There were so many people there. I said to Mike [Berardino], the bass player, ‘I gotta go to the hospital.’ He said ‘That’s fine, lets just finish the set first.’ So we did that.”