Al Di Meola suffers heart attack onstage – guitar maestro in stable condition and plans return to the stage in 2024

Al Di Meola
(Image credit: Joshua Sammer/Getty Images)

Al Di Meola is in a stable condition after suffering a heart attack onstage in Romania. The jazz-fusion guitar legend was playing Bucharest’s Arenele Romane on Wednesday, 27 September, when he was taken offstage and rushed to hospital.

In a statement, the Bagdasar-Arseni emergency hospital confirmed that Di Meola was being treated for a STEMI (segment elevation myocardial infarction). The Associated Press reports that photographer Dragos Cristescu witnessed the incident, who said that Di Meola gripped his chest and had difficulty walking off-stage. 

The seriousness of the situation might not have been clear at the time; Di Meola’s trio played on for “several minutes” before calling time on the show. 

Di Meola has vowed to return to the stage as soon as possible – perhaps as early as 2024 – and reassured fans that he was receiving “the best care possible”, and that their support would be the “driving force” for his recovery.

“Music has always been a source of healing and strength for me, and I can’t wait to be back on stage, sharing my music with you all,” wrote Di Meola. “The energy and connection I feel when I perform are truly special, and I always felt that I can say things throughout the years with my music more than words can express.

“I’m planning to return in 2024, and I'm already looking forward to making music together once again. Your unwavering support means the world to me, and it’s a driving force in my journey towards recovery.”

One of the all-time greats, Di Meola set the bar for jazz-fusion guitar. The Berklee-educated phenom got his break with Chick Corea. Joined by John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía onstage at The Warfield in 1980, he recorded one of the greatest live albums of all time, Friday Night in San Francisco. 

Albums such as Elegant Gypsy and Splendido Hotel took guitar to new levels of virtuosity. His live performances are the stuff of legend. We might know what to expect from him – he is a creature of habit after all, with those pristine starched white shirts and black vests. The scent of Armani cologne might greet you if you're in a front-row seat. But whether on acoustic or electric guitar, what comes from his instrument is something else, consistently inspiring.

Di Meola said more updates would be forthcoming, and you can follow him on Instagram for more. He can count on the guitarists across the world’s support, with Alex Skolnick, Matteo Mancuso, Whitesnake’s Joel Hoekstra, Greg Howe, Rui Veloso and many more among those who sent the maestro their best wishes. 

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.