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Sun Princess crew save Johnny Devlin after veteran rocker suffers heart attack

Johnny Devlin playing on the last day of the Cooly Rocks On festival. Picture: Jerad Williams

LEGENDARY rocker Johnny Devlin yesterday thanked medical staff on board the cruise ship Sun Princess for their swift actions in saving his life during a 10-day cruise last week.

The music veteran, dubbed “New Zealand’s answer to Elvis Presley” during his 1960s heyday, was enjoying the final night of a cruise of the east coast of Australia when he suffered a heart attack.

From his hospital bed at St Vincents yesterday Devlin credited medics on board the ship for keeping him alive overnight until the ship could be met by an ambulance in port in Sydney on Saturday.

In critical condition, he was swiftly transferred to St Vincent’s Public Hospital on Saturday where he has been under observation since.

The Sun Princess raced into port ahead of schedule.

“I can’t thank the medical staff on board enough because there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them,” he said.

Devlin, who supported The Beatles during their 1964 Australian tour and was a regular on iconic pioneer Australian music shows Bandstand and Six O’Clock Rock, will undergo a triple bypass early next week.

“I couldn’t breath and had a lot of fluid on my lungs but luckily I am still here,” said the plucky 77-year-old.

It is his second heart attack.

His longtime friend Marcia Neilson, with whom he was cruising when he collapsed, said the captain of the Sun Princess powered into Sydney Harbour ahead of schedule on Saturday, so that Devlin could be urgently transferred to hospital.

“He is on his third life. They were injecting him with needles as the ship was being hit with 5m waves, it was amazing to watch them at work saving him,” she said.

With his band Johnny Devlin and The Devils, Devlin supported The Everly Brothers in 1959 and is still widely regarded as New Zealand’s first major rock ‘n’roll star.

He now lives at Corrimal on the South Coast with Neilson.

With thanks to
The Echidnas The Australian Order of Comedians