JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Richie Faulkner says that it's his bandmates' call as to whether they want to include K.K. Downing in their upcoming 50th-anniversary celebrations.
Earlier today, Downing revealed that he recently reached out to JUDAS PRIEST "to gather their thoughts" on the possibility of him participating in the 2020 tour marking the band's half-century milestone. According to the guitarist, his former bandmates were "not receptive" to his involvement in the trek and they "do not intend to include" him in the 50th-anniversary tour.
As could be expected, Downing's revelation caused an uproar with PRIEST fans, many of whom feel that a PRIEST anniversary tour will not be legitimate without K.K.'s participation.
"What?!!! @judaspriest Are you serious?" one fan wrote on Twitter. "Don't be bastards es BLACK SABBATH with Bill Ward. Be gratefull don't be fucking idiots."
The fan then tagged Richie and added: "Richie please be good and try to change the point of view to the boys."
In response, Faulkner wrote: "As I've said before Elkin, it's not my decision to make. I don't have a 50 year relationship like they do. It's their call"
Downing left PRIEST in 2011 amid claims of band conflict, shoddy management and declining quality of performance. He was replaced by Faulkner, nearly three decades his junior.
In a recent interview with Dean Delray's "Let There Be Talk" podcast, Faulkner was asked if he has had any direct contact with Downing since he joined PRIEST. "We've gone backwards and forwards on Twitter and a couple of e-mails, and what have you, but I've never met him," Richie said. "He's always been cordial. There have a couple of things on Twitter — a couple of misunderstandings and stuff like that, which is just the nature of the Internet."
Richie went on to say that he doesn't feel it's appropriate for him to weigh in on the relationship between his bandmates and Downing, who has been vocal about his dissatisfaction over the fact that he wasn't invited to rejoin PRIEST when Glenn Tipton announced his retirement from the road nearly two years ago.
"When it comes to K.K., it's not my thing — it's their thing," Faulkner said. "They've got a relationship with him for 40, 50 years, and it's their deal — it's out of my hands. Personally, I wish it would be different. But it is what it is. And, as I said, it's out of my hands, really. He was cordial to me, as I said, over a couple of e-mails and Twitter posts, and I haven't got a problem with him. But, as I said, it's their relationship — it's their thing to deal with."
Asked how the guitar playing in PRIEST would be split if Downing was to return for the band's 50th-anniversary tour, Faulkner said: "I guess if he was in it, I don't think Ken would be playing my bits. I honestly couldn't tell you. I wouldn't know… I guess if Ken was there, he'd play his parts and I'd play my parts and then Glenn's parts, which is fine for me… But it's one of those things, man… I wish, personally, it had been a different outcome and everyone was getting on fine and Ken could come back and everyone was friends and we could do it for the last tour, the 50th anniversary, go out with a bang and Glenn can come back when [he is able to]. But that's not the way it worked out, unfortunately. But who knows? What will be will be. Again, that's out of my hands. As I said, it's not my relationship to have."
Last month, it was announced that JUDAS PRIEST is among the nominees for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame's class of 2020. The top vote-getters will be announced in January and inducted May 2, 2020 at a ceremony at Cleveland's Public Hall.
Downing; Tipton; drummers Dave Holland, Les Binks and Scott Travis; singer Rob Halford; and bassist Ian Hill are on the ballot for JUDAS PRIEST.
Halford told Billboard in 2017 that he was not opposed to the idea of reuniting with Downing at the Rock Hall induction ceremony if they were to ever receive the honor. "Everything's on the table for anyone that's been associated with PRIEST in and out of the band," the singer said.