Judas Priest Lose A Founding Member, Deliver Their Best Record in Nearly 25 Years With Redeemer Of Souls
You know, I am a very big fan of Judas Priest, so much so that I have both the band’s iconic trident symbol and the album title Defenders of the Faith permanently inked on my arms. So, when founding guitarist K.K. Downingannounced in 2011 that he would be retiring from Judas Priest, I really felt gutted. Surely this would be the end of the “Metal Gods!” But alas, our heroes decided to soldier on by replacing Downing with new guitarist Richie Faulkner (previously of the Lauren Harris band, daughter of Steve Harris of Iron Maiden), who is nearly 3 decades their junior. This sounded like an idea as ill advised as when the band tried to replace irreplaceable singer Rob Halford for a couple of albums around the turn of the millennium with Tim “˜Ripper’ Owens, a very skilled Halford imitator whom the band discovered singing in an Ohio-based Priest tribute band (this event even served as the inspiration for the Mark Walberg/Jennifer Anniston movie Rock Star). Owens is a perfectly capable singer, but is also nearly two decades younger than the rest of the band and the albums that he appeared on with Priest are mostly forgettable and serve merely as a footnote in the band’s career. Halford returned to the fold in the mid 2000s and Priest has since released two somewhat uneven offerings (2005’s Angel of Retribution and the double concept album Nostradamus in 2008) featuring a handful of great songs.
Rob Halford is the Metal God, and with good reason. The lead singer of metal legends Judas Priest, currently on their final tour entitled Epitaph, recently had a bit of a fall off his motorcycle onstage, when riding on during the band’s performance of “Hell Bent For Leather.” The true metal professional that he is, Halford gets right back up again and continues kicking it with the band onstage. View video footage of the incident at the bottom of this post.
Followers of the metal were shocked when earlier this year Judas Priest guitarist KK Downing announced he was leaving the band after 40 years. His replacement is young Londoner Richie Faulkner — a man who knows how to set his fretboard alight and melt your face, while remaining cool as ice onstage.
The ex-Ace Mafia and Lauren Harris man took some time out during Priest’s current Epitaph World Tour to discuss his “dream” new life and being a sci-fi geek.
Geeks of Doom: Were you welcomed into the band?
Richie Faulkner: Absolutely. They’ve been nothing short of welcoming on every front really, on a personal level and a musical level as well. We arranged some of the songs live to put some extra guitar solos in there to showcase what I can do and you can’t get more welcome than that. You know, changing arrangements for classic songs like that just to accommodate what you can do I think that’s a great honour to be granted that opportunity.
Geeks of Doom: That twin guitar sound of KK Downing and Glenn Tipton was integral to Judas Priest and to metal music.
Richie Faulkner: Absolutely.
Geeks of Doom: Did you feel any pressure to be replacing a part of that?
I despise American Idol. It goes against every fiber of belief I have in music. The Simon Cowell Cookie Cutter Factory of creating “stars” really gets on my last nerve. Despite my negativity towards the-show-that-distracts-millions, I can’t help but write about it at the moment, because metal gods Judas Priest made a guest appearance on the series finale the other night – and blew the whole show out of the water with a great performance, which you can view at the bottom of this post.
My hatred for American Idol aside, you have to admit that this is a good move for Priest in the publicity department. As reported here numerous times, the band are about to embark on their farewell tour, and making an impressive appearance on a show like this is a good way to get the word out beyond the regular fan base.
Judas Priest has released a new promo image on their Facebook page highlighting their new line-up for their upcoming tour — and you can see the larger version at the bottom of this post. As previously reported here, the band announced their final tour, which they’ve titled The Farewell EPITAPH World Tour.
Following this announcement, it was revealed that guitarist K.K. Downing had formally retired from the band and will not be joining them on tour. Stepping into Downing’s shoes for the tour will be Richie Faulkner, who previously performed with Lauren Harris, daughter of Steve Harris from Iron Maiden.
Downing recently also released a formal statement on his official website regarding his retirement.