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Raven Survive Shattered Limbs, Re-Learn to Fly

RavenNew wave of British heavy metal pioneers Raven didn’t call their new album ‘Walk Through Fire’ for nothing. Over the past decade, vocalist and bassist John Gallagher and his brother and guitarist Mark have overcome obstacles most bands never have to face. In 2001, their father died, then Mark got into a car accident and his head smacked into the car windshield.

Days later, he almost lost his legs at a construction site in Florida when a wall fell over on him. Strangely, had he not been in the car accident, he would probably have lost his life.

“When you’re on the construction site, you have to wear a hard hat, but Mark couldn’t because of the lump on his head, so he just had on a baseball cap,” John Gallagher explained to Noisecreep. “They were building this really large wall and unfortunately it wasn’t braced and it was windy. But the wind kept blowing his hat off. And it saved his life because he kept chasing the hat. And when the wall came down it landed on his legs. If it fell on him fully, it would have killed him.”

The wall that collapsed was 100 feet long, five feet wide and 20 feet high. It shattered both of Mark’s lower legs like eggshells and nearly severed several major arteries. At first, the guitarist was in shock and didn’t realize how badly he was injured.

“He actually called me while he was waiting to be medevaced, and he was phone laughing,” John said. “I asked, ‘How you doing?’ And he said, ‘Not great, I had a wall fall on top of me.’ He laughed it off, but basically his legs were crushed. His feet were pointing the wrong way. He had a piece of rebar right through one calf, and the other calf was ripped off altogether. His feet were disconnected, the ankles were smashed. We didn’t know if he’d ever walk again. At one point, they wanted to cut one of his legs off.”

Mark Gallagher underwent numerous operations to save his legs, and Raven were put on hold while the guitarist learned to walk again. In 2004, with Mark still in a wheelchair, Raven decided to play a couple shows. It was the beginning of slow, steady comeback. “In the beginning, it was hard,” John said. “He had just had some operations, so he was throwing up in the middle of the gig. And after he got over that and got out of the wheelchair, he had a ‘Mad Max’ leg brace. It was a huge thing which looked cool when he stomped around in it. Eventually, he was able to ditch that. So by 2005 we were out doing festivals without the brace.”

These days Mark is a textbook case for the wonders of modern medicine. He actually skis during his down time, and when Raven perform, he navigates the stage like an acrobat on an obstacle course. The band has shows scheduled in Europe through early August. On Sept. 10, Raven will launch a U.S. tour. Dates are scheduled through Oct. 24 in San Antonio.

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