In a new interview with Sam Coulson, JUDAS PRIEST's Richie Faulkner was asked which three guitar players, living or dead, he would like to invite to a dinner party. He responded (see video below): "I think if I could invite any guitar player, living or dead, to a dinner party, I think [one] would be Jimi Hendrix. Purely, I'd love to pick Jimi's brain about where he comes from musically, what inspires him as a guitar player and a songwriter. Obviously, he came from the blues, but, to me, that musical influence, I'm not sure where that came from — what took it from the blues to something else. So I'd love Jimi to come. Phil Campbell from MOTÖRHEAD. I always have a good time with Phil Campbell from MOTÖRHEAD. He's a friend of mine. He's from the U.K. — he's from Wales — and I always seem to have a good time with Phil; he's a lovely, lovely guy. We've toured a couple of times with MOTÖRHEAD in the past, both in Europe and in South America. I love Phil; [I] always have a good time. And the third person I'd like to invite is probably K.K. Downing. I've never met K.K., and if I'm having a dinner party, I'd love to meet him for once and pick his brain about some stories in PRIEST and that sort of stuff — purely 'cause I've never got the opportunity to meet and to talk to Ken. So, yeah, they're my three."
Last fall, 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 [Tipton, JUDAS PRIEST guitarist] 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."
Two 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, PRIEST singer Rob 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."