Arena rock band drummer Kelly Keagy and Star Tribune journalist Randy Furst might be an odd couple, but both are working to raise cardiac awareness after having their own heart surgeries.

Keagy and his band, Night Ranger, will perform at the second annual Rock from the Heart event in Minneapolis, which will be held Feb. 7-8. The event also will feature a talk by Furst, whose written, first-person account of his heart surgery touched many readers. "Recovery, it turns out, is more complex than I thought it would be," he wrote in his Dec. 29 Star Tribune story.

The 73-year-old journalist will be part of a free series of speakers on Friday, including top heart doctors from the Minneapolis Heart Institute, at the downtown Loews Hotel.

Night Ranger (known for 1980s hits such as "Sister Christian") will perform Saturday night at Pantages Theatre. The opening act is a local group, The Band That Fell to Earth, and drummer Pete Johnson, who co-founded Rock from the Heart with his wife after recovering from his heart surgery.

Tickets are available at

Keagy was able to play in a 2017 concert in Fargo, N.D., eight weeks after his surgery. Seeing that concert gave Johnson confidence that he would be able to come back from his own surgery later that year, said Johnson's wife, Amy.

"Seeing Kelly up there on stage eight weeks post surgery gave us hope," she said. "Pete now had the 'Kelly Keagy Barometer' for recovery. For the first time, the hope outweighed the doom and gloom."

Even so, Keagy, Johnson and Furst have all talked publicly about the emotional struggles that accompany the physical ones after heart surgery. One-fourth of patients suffer depression after heart surgery, the American Heart Association said.

Furst had an outpouring of reaction to his story, many of whom shared having similar emotional experiences as they dealt with physical limitations after their heart surgeries and worries about whether they would be able to get back to doing things they loved.

Doctors say that "the subject of emotional recovery from open heart surgery has been somewhat overlooked," Furst said. "More needs to be done to prepare patients beforehand and help them after surgery."

Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744 • @stribjo