Richie Faulkner has fired back at K.K. Downing over the founding JUDAS PRIEST guitarist's comments about his position in the band.
Over the weekend, BLABBERMOUTH.NET published an interview Downing gave to Germany's Bleeding4metal.de in which K.K. said that it "seems wrong" that Faulkner and drummer Scott Travis "are not officially members of JUDAS PRIEST as they are on a wage."
Earlier today, Faulkner released a statement disputing Downing's comments, insisting that he hasn't been a salaried employee for the past seven years and slamming his predecessor's remarks as "an attempt to devalue my and Scott's position in the band."
Faulkner's statement follows in its entirety:
"Regarding a recent untruthful article, I'm not sure why anyone feels they have the right to openly discuss others' financial standings, true or otherwise. This seems to be intended as a swipe at the band and an attempt to devalue my and Scott's position in the band.
"For the record, I have not been paid a wage since 2012 and have always been given creative input in this band since day one.
"This band of brothers have been nothing but a family to me and both band and management have always stated and demonstrated they wanted a band member.
"It's an honor to serve in the best heavy metal band in the world and give 1000% to the fans around the globe that have supported this band for 50 years.
"It's a shame that someone I held in such high regard feels the need to take these low roads when I've done absolutely nothing but give my absolute all to a position he left of his own accord. It's both uninformed, unfounded, unnecessary and very unfortunate and disappointing.
"We've always stood firm to not get involved in Internet clickbait, but I felt this crossed a line for me personally and wanted to set these untruths straight myself."
Last year, 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 [Tipton] retired from touring [last year], 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."
Despite his initial reservations about Richie's visual appearance, K.K. never questioned Faulkner's playing ability, saying: "I know Richie is predominantly a Les Paul guy and he's looked up to Zakk Wylde, Randy Rhoads, Michael Schenker and players like that. That's what he says. I don't recall me being cited as an influence on Richie when he was in his young days. But it is what it is.
"To my mind, JUDAS PRIEST is certainly bigger and more legendary than any individuals in the band," he added. "So PRIEST will always put on a good show, and, obviously, I like to think they have great songs and, obviously, you've got Rob [Halford] up there who's the voice of PRIEST and does incredibly well, certainly at this time in his life."
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."
Last year, Downing — who is a founding member of the British heavy metal legends — released a statement in which he said that he was "shocked and stunned" that he wasn't invited to return to JUDAS PRIEST following Tipton's announcement that he would no longer be touring with the band due to his battle with Parkinson's disease.
Downing's autobiography, "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest", was released last September via Da Capo Press.