Ides of March’s Jim Peterik recalls collapsing on stage

Jim Peterik collapsed Sunday during a legends show in Des Plaines. He said doctors who examined him after the incident told him his blood sugar had dropped dangerously low.

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The Ides of March — (front row, from left): Mike Borch, Bob Bergland, Jim Peterik, Larry Millas and Scott May. Back row (from left): Steve Eisen, Tim Bales and Henry Salgado.

The Ides of March — (front row, from left): Mike Borch, Bob Bergland, Jim Peterik, Larry Millas and Scott May. Back row (from left): Steve Eisen, Tim Bales and Henry Salgado.

Kristie Schram

Jim Peterik of the Ides of March said his blood-sugar level had crashed when he collapsed while performing Sunday afternoon at the Des Plaines Theatre.

The Grammy-winning founder of Survivor and the Ides of March, who co-wrote the hits “Vehicle” and “Eye of the Tiger,” recalled the episode on his Facebook page Monday, saying doctors who examined him after the incident told him that his blood sugar had dropped to 47.

“Maybe I should have eaten more than a muffin and a banana before the show,” Peterik wrote. “Just sayin’. Lesson learned.”

The 72-year-old is now back to feeling like his normal self and was in the studio Wednesday working on his next album.

Peterik was playing guitar and singing with the Ides of March about 4:30 p.m. Sunday during the “Cornerstones of Rock” show, featuring the Buckinghams, New Colony Six, Ides of March and Cryan Shames when he collapsed as the band kicked off its 1970 hit “Vehicle,” the last song of their set.

“For some reason, I started to feel a little dizzy and woozy, but I ignored it, and soldiered on, introducing the song as I always do,” Peterik wrote in his Facebook post. “The last line I spoke haltingly — ‘So strap yourself in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride [pause] and this is the vehicle that got us here tonight!’ I counted it off, the brass blared, but as I started to sing the room started spinning, and I started to lose consciousness until I blacked out and fell over — right on stage.”

Ron Onesti, president and CEO of theater operator Onesti Entertainment Corp., held Peterik’s hand on stage and kept him talking after he collapsed.

“It scared everybody, not only his bandmates on stage and off stage, but also the thousand concertgoers,” Onesti said Wednesday, adding that everyone in the theater held their breath until he shot the audience a thumbs-up to signal that Peterik was doing OK.

Onesti said something special happened after that.

“The audience just slowly broke into the Lord’s prayer, and he heard it, and he said: ‘Is that for me?’

“And I said: ‘It’s for you, Jimmy,’” Onesti said. “It actually put color back in his face.”

Peterik was taken to Lutheran General Hospital in nearby Park Ridge, where he was given fluids and took some tests.

Blood sugar below 70 is considered to be low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Signs of severe low blood sugar — below 54 — include dizziness, difficulty walking, sweating and confusion. If not treated, it can lead to seizures.

“Next thing I saw as I started to come to was a group of people all around me taking my vitals, trying to get me talking,” Peterik said. “It was all a blur.”

But after his vitals returned to normal, Peterik said it was a “joy” to see the relief and smiles on the faces of his bandmates and loved ones.

Jim Peterik at his Jam Lab studio space in Brookfield on Sept. 10, 2014.

Jim Peterik at his Jam Lab studio space in Brookfield in 2014. Peterik’s fans posted well-wishes after he collapsed Sunday. On Thursday he’ll be at a CD release party in St. Charles.

Geoff Scheerer/Sun-Times (file)

Fans replied to Peterik’s Facebook post with well-wishes, saying they were glad that he was on the road to recovery.

“Jim, a vehicle full of get well wishes sent. I’m sure you’ll bounce back fine. Take care of yourself!” wrote one fan.

Another fan wrote: “my heart sunk when I read about this yesterday and what a blessing to hear this update. I’m actually glad I wasn’t there to witness it, couldn’t have handled it!!! Keep rockin’, Jim — you are our FAV!!!”

Peterik said he is also preparing for his CD release party at the Arcada Theatre Thursday in St. Charles.

“You can’t keep a great musician down, and Jim is evidence of that,” Onesti said.

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