I would strongly suggest you bridle him without him being tied...I always unhalter, and put the halter around the neck to bridle. If you are afraid of him getting away, do this in a secure area, like a small paddock, or round pen.
I would also do some desensitization exercises on his head and ears, just to rule out him being head shy as a factor. Also rub the bridle on his head and face as a part of that desensitization, since it seems to be the bridle that causes his reactions. I've had training horses who are only 'headshy' when it comes to bridling, because they have been bumped in the mouth, or have had the chinstrap catch their lip at some point when bridling, so are afraid of the sound of the bridle...doing desensitizing helps alot. Repetition is the key to getting over this, so don't just practice this when you want to ride. You need to work on this for a few moments each day, or every other day if you want to see improvement; that he had such a dramatic episode, could mean you may see more of that in the future, so deal with it NOW, not later.
Teach him, or retrain him to lower his head for you, so you aren't reachin up for his head, as well.
"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."