Paul Van Dyk nearly died while performing, and was back on stage within months

In February 2016, Paul Van Dyk nearly joined the tragic list of musicians who've died while performing.

The legendary German trance DJ, who was among the first artists to receive a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Dance/Electronic album for his 2003 release Reflections, fell through a stage in the Netherlands after he stepped on an unmarked piece of fabric that appeared to be solid material. He broke his spine in two places and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury that caused doctors to tell his family he might not survive.

Miraculously, he was back in front of his fans in June at EDC Las Vegas. It was a highly improbable feat, but almost felt fitting for a producer who's the second-most traveled touring musician ever, according to Billboard.

AOL interviewed Van Dyk after his headlining performance at the Dreamstate festival in San Bernardino, Calif., on Nov. 24 to talk about his incredible recovery and his newfound outlook on his music and life.

17 PHOTOS
Paul Van Dyk throughout his career
See Gallery
Paul Van Dyk throughout his career
DJ Paul van Dyk, winner of the Best International DJ award at the 1999 Ericsson Muzik Awards in London. (Photo by Michael Crabtree - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: BRIXTON ACADEMY Photo of Paul Van DYK, Paul Van Dyk Djing, record decks (Photo by Naki/Redferns)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: Photo of Paul Van DYK; Posed portrait of DJ Paul Van Dyk, on roof top (Photo by Naki/Redferns)
Paul van Dyk and Black Eyed Peas during The 11th Annual Rock the Vote Awards - Show and After Party at The Palladium in Hollywood, California, United States. ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Paul Van Dyk (Photo by James Quinton/WireImage)
Berlin's Governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit (3rd L) Chief of the Chancellor's Office Thomas de Maiziere (2nd R), conductor Daniel Barenboim (L) and German DJ Paul van Dyk (R) pose in front of domino pieces that symbolise segments of the Berlin Wall in a warehouse in Berlin October 21, 2009. As the highlight of a 5-million euro celebration marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, a 1.5-km (one-mile) long segment of the Wall will stand for two days along its original route in front of the Brandenburg Gate to the Potsdamer Platz. The row of 1,000 20-kg dominos standing 1.5 metres apart -- painted in bright colours by school children and rising 2.5 metres high -- will be toppled at the end of a gala ceremony as a symbolic tribute to the collapse of the Wall 20 years earlier. REUTERS/Thomas Peter (GERMANY POLITICS ENTERTAINMENT)
German DJ Paul van Dyk poses in front of domino pieces that symbolises a segment of the Berlin Wall in a warehouse in Berlin October 21, 2009. As the highlight of a 5-million euro celebration marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, a 1.5-km (one-mile) long segment of the Wall will stand for two days along its original route in front of the Brandenburg Gate to the Potsdamer Platz. The row of 1,000 20-kg dominos standing 1.5 metres apart -- painted in bright colours by school children and rising 2.5 metres high -- will be toppled at the end of a gala ceremony as a symbolic tribute to the collapse of the Wall 20 years earlier. Van Dyk, who was born in the former GDR, has composed a song for the event. REUTERS/Thomas Peter (GERMANY POLITICS ENTERTAINMENT)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 16: DJ Paul van Dyk performs during Day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival 2011 held at the Empire Polo Club on April 16, 2011 in Indio, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)
LEEDS, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 06: Paul Van Dyk meets fans after performing on stage at Leeds O2 Academy on December 6, 2013 in Leeds, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ollie Millington/Redferns via Getty Images)
LEEDS, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 06: Paul Van Dyk performs on stage at Leeds O2 Academy on December 6, 2013 in Leeds, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ollie Millington/Redferns via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 28: Paul van Dyk onstage Ultra Music Festival at Bayfront Park Amphitheater on March 29, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Sergi Alexander/FilmMagic)
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 28: Paul van Dyk onstage Ultra Music Festival at Bayfront Park Amphitheater on March 29, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Sergi Alexander/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - AUGUST 29: Paul van Dyk performs in Central Park on August 29, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Alli Harvey/Getty Images)
MALLORCA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 05: Host Melissa Khalaj and DJ Paul Van Dyk attend as Paul Van Dyk X Kia present the Kia Stinger on October 5, 2017 in Mallorca, Spain. (Photo by Andres Iglesias Rodriguez/Getty Images for Kia Stinger)
MALLORCA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 05: Paul Van Dyk and Kia present the Kia Stinger on October 5, 2017 in Mallorca, Spain. (Photo by Andres Iglesias Rodriguez/Getty Images for Kia Stinger)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 01: Paul van Dyk performs live on stage at Audio Club on November 1, 2017 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.(Photo by Mauricio Santana/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

AOL: What motivated you to perform again so soon after such an incredibly quick recovery?

PVD: I have still not fully recovered and I will probably never get over the long-term effects of the accident. As much as I wanted to return to the stage and making music generally, my first priority was to follow the doctor's orders completely so that I could stay alive. But music is such a big part of my life, I was never going to fully regain my life until I returned to the studio and began touring again. All things considered, it wasn't long at all before I returned to music, but it was important for me to have an ambitious goal.

When you returned to the stage for the first time, what was your state of mind like?

Before the first show, it was quite nerve-racking and a bit of a scary process because for one, the part of my brain that was injured is the part that is responsible for creativity. I wasn't sure if I'd have that same emotive connection to my music that I always feel. But when I went on stage the emotions flooded back through me -- how could it not with 10,000 people greeting me? The rush of performing was the same as it has always been; the difference was that I was so much more grateful for the experience and aware how easily it can all be taken away.

What was the toughest part of the recovery process?

I think the toughest part has been just coming to terms with the fact that I will never 100 percent recover from the accident. The doctors say if I reach 50 percent of what I was it would be considered a big success. Just knowing that I'll never be fully functional like I was before the accident -- that is tough.

Has your injury changed your outlook on life or how you approach making music?

As easy as it would be to feel sorry for myself and be angry about what happened to me, I am just thankful to be alive and for all of the friends and family that have helped me through the whole ordeal. In regards to my music, I have never felt closer to myself than I do now. I simply realized this is my music, this is me, this is how I would like the music to be. And that's all that matters from an artistic perspective. I think the accident just made me realize I need to be true to myself and make and perform the kind of music that I like, and I don't need to compromise myself for anything or anyone.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Entertainment Insider by AOL to get the hottest pop culture news delivered straight to your inbox!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.