RICHIE FAULKNER Understands Why Some JUDAS PRIEST Fans Didn't Initially Embrace Him As K.K. DOWNING's Replacement
May 9, 2023
During a brand new chat with That Metal Interview, Richie Faulkner was asked if he got any pushback from JUDAS PRIEST fans when he was initially recruited to replace Kenneth "K.K." Downing in the band more than 12 years ago. The guitarist said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Oh, of course, yeah. The Internet is the Internet, and that's part of the world we live in now. But you do what you do to the best of your ability. I got the gig — the guys in the band picked me — and you've gotta go with that. And of course, there's gonna be negativity.
"Replacing K.K. after 40 years, replacing anyone after 40 years is gonna be a shock to a lot of people who've been with the band for that long. So I totally understand it," he continued. "I probably would have been the same. But I think people understood I wasn't there to replace anyone as such. He left, and I was there… I could never replace Ken. Ken's Ken. I've gotta respect his legacy and do my own thing moving forward, and that's all I can do. But of course you're gonna get negativity. That's part of the world we live in today."
Faulkner added: "People that have been with PRIEST at the time for 40 years, you can imagine, man — they love the band so much, they've been with the band for so many years, and all of a sudden there's a big change like that. Not everyone is gonna be happy about it. And we've got the ability now to voice our opinion publicly, and that's just what it is. As I said, I might have thought the same if — I don't know; I'm trying to think of a different situation or something else where I might have thought the same. If something that had been around for 40 years changed like that, I might have had the same kind of opinion. It's just a natural human emotion, for sure. But it's 'cause they care so much."
Faulkner, nearly three decades Downing's junior, joined PRIEST after K.K. left in 2011 amid claims of band conflict, shoddy management and declining quality of performance.
In 2018, Downing revealed that he sent two resignation letters to his bandmates when he decided to quit JUDAS PRIEST. The first was described as "a graceful exit note, implying a smooth retirement from music," while the second was "angrier, laying out all of his frustrations with specific parties."
Downing later said that he believed the second letter was "a key reason" he wasn't invited to rejoin PRIEST after Tipton's decision to retire from touring.
Back in 2019, Faulkner dismissed the criticism he received for supposedly trying to look too much like Downing. "Obviously, you get the [haters] — the 'clone' comments," Richie told the "Let There Be Talk" podcast. "I've got long blond hair, playing a flying V [guitar]… [Michael] Schenker, Zakk [Wylde], K.K., Randy Rhoads — all those guys. To say I was a Ken clone was fairly narrow-minded. There's tons of guys who have flying Vs and long hair.
"The thing is if I had dyed my hair black to be different, I would have been shot down," he continued. "You've gotta be real; you've gotta be who you are. And I grew up on Ken, I grew up on Glenn and the guys that I mentioned. So you've just gotta be who you are. And I grew up with those guys, and I'm not ashamed. I wear it on my sleeve — they're all my influences, and I'm not afraid of that… There's no point in trying to hide it. But it's gotta be natural as well. And I think somehow it worked out organically. I didn't try to copy him. And as it goes on, you always try to do your own thing and make your own statement."
Four years ago, Downing said that he felt like he was "being cloned" when he first found out he was being replaced by Faulkner.
Downing, who announced his retirement from PRIEST in April 2011 after nearly 42 years in the job, admitted to the "Appetite For Distortion" podcast that he was taken aback when he first saw his replacement.
"Richie, as far as I know, is a nice guy and obviously an excellent player," Downing said. "I was a bit disappointed when, basically… I think the idea was to replace me [with a lookalike], so I did feel as though I was kind of being cloned. But I'm not sure that was exactly fair to Richie. I mean, I could be off the mark here, but I think Richie had the right to bring himself to the stage with his own… portray his own image and ability to play the instrument the way that he does. But it is what it is."
He continued: "When Glenn retired from touring [in early 2018], the same didn't happen — obviously, [Tipton's replacement] Andy [Sneap] doesn't look anything like Glenn; he doesn't wear the same clothes, the red pants, guitars or anything like that. So I don't really know what's going on. But it is what it is."
In a 2011 interview with the Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat, Halford stated about Faulkner's physical resemblance to a younger Downing: "People are saying, 'It's a clone. You've got some of K.K.'s DNA.' It's just the way it turned out. We made, like, a secret search. When we knew K.K. was not gonna be making the tour, we did a lot of secret, kind of, searching for another player. And Richie just happened to be the guy. And he just happens to look a little bit of the K.K. image, you know?! I think it would be silly to say, 'We looked for a guitar player that looks like Ken.' What we want is a very good metal guitar player, and that's what Richie Faulkner is."
BLABBERMOUTH.NET uses the Facebook Comments plugin to let people comment on content on the site using their Facebook account. The comments reside on Facebook servers and are not stored on BLABBERMOUTH.NET. To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).