Judas Priest’s Richie Faulkner says he was “ready for the challenge” of replacing K.K. Downing

Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest. Credit: Scott Dudelson via Getty Images

Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner has reflected on his origin story with the band, when he took over from K.K. Downing in 2011.

Downing had been the metal icons’ longest serving guitarist, joining the band in 1970 – just a year after they formed (replacing the late John Perry and Ernie Chataway) – and performing with them until their eventual hiatus in 1992, then from their 1996 reunion until his exit some 15 years later. 

Faulkner, on the other hand, was born in 1980 – by which time Judas Priest had already released five albums – but this worked in his favour, effectively being raised on their music. He discussed taking over from Downing in a new interview Great Day Houston, where he noted that before playing in the band itself, he’d known how to play their songs by way of his tenure in a hard-rock cover band.

“I played in a cover band in London and around the UK,” he said, “and Judas Priest’s songs were the staple diet of a gigging rock guitar player. You know, you had to know Judas Priest, Deep Purple and Iron Maiden and all those songs if you wanted to play regularly. So I was intimately familiar with the band’s material. 

“[I’d] never met the band before – I knew one of their ex-drummers, Les Binks, and I got the call from their management one day. I was a bit of… You know Goldilocks And The Three Bears, where the porridge is just right? I wasn’t a completely new guy, where I was gonna get stage fright, but I hadn’t been around the block for the last 10 years, where I was gonna have a list of demands. You know, I was right in the middle.”

On how he gelled with his new bandmates right off the bat, Faulkner said: “I think the half of it was the size of it. You just kind of get swept along with the wave of it. You realise how much this means to so many people around the world. I think I was ready for the challenge. I know the duty that comes with being the guitar player in such a meaningful band.”

Have a look at the full interview below:

Downing reunited with Judas Priest earlier this year, performing with the band at the 2022 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame induction. At the ceremony, Judas Priest accepted the Award For Musical Excellence – something Rob Halford was less than stoked about, admitting in July he was “a bit pissed” that the band weren’t honoured as performers

Meanwhile, Faulkner revealed in September that he was recovering from his second open-heart surgery. “Just before we toured Europe,” he said at the time, “scans showed a hole in one of the connections between the synthetic graft and my own aorta.” 

After completing his recovery, Faulkner hit the road with Judas Priest once more, continuing their ‘50 Heavy Metal Years’ tour over the following months. At the Wallingford, Connecticut date, they performed the classic deep cut ‘Genocide’ for the first time in 40 years.

As for their upcoming plans, Judas Priest are set to join Ozzy Osbourne for the UK leg of his rescheduled ‘No More Tours 2′, which kicks off in June. When he’s not busy with those obligations, Faulkner will likely spend some time with Elegant Weapons, his newly formed supergroup with members of Pantera and Rainbow.

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