Tipton admits band thought it was all over when KK dropped his bombshell – until they found new man Faulkner

Twin attack: Faulkner and Tipton

Judas Priest came close to splitting up when KK Downing told them he’d decided to retire from the band.

And guitarist Glenn Tipton reveals they’d never have toured again if they hadn’t found the right man in new member Richie Faulkner.

Downing dropped his bombshell in December but the band only revealed he’d left when they announced their Epitaph final world tour in April. They’re working on a new album with former Lauren Harris axeman Faulkner and do plan to play further live shows – but they won’t be embarking on any more large-scale global treks.

Tipton tells Everything Rocks: “It was a difficult time for us. We almost gave up; and if we hadn’t found Richie I don’t think we’d be here today.

“It had to be the right man for the job – we had to find that spark or it wouldn’t have worked. We could have looked and looked, and never found the right person.

“We’re lucky to have found Richie, and I think it’s fair to say he saved the band. Without being too dramatic, it had to be that way or we wouldn’t have gone out on tour.”

Discussing the fact that Faulkner is 30 years younger than his bandmates and doesn’t exactly match the classic Priest look, Tipton says: “It was the audio side of things that was important. We needed a person who fitted in musically – it wasn’t a concern for us whether he was 50 or 20 years old, as long as he could do the job.

“The beauty about Richie is he’s never tried to replace what KK did. We were amazed at the contradiction: he does his own thing but he really blends in well.”

Meanwhile, Priest singer Rob Halford admits he’d love to win a Brit award to add to his Grammy – and it becomes more important to him the older he gets.

He tells the Belfast Telegraph: “The Grammy was very important but it would be nice to get a Brit from our own country.

“It’s a double-edged sword, though: part of me wants the recognition and part of me has always felt like an underdog. Is it really important we don’t get the credit some lesser bands do? I don’t know; but as I get older I get more sentimental, and I think it might be nice to get some more recognition.”

Related stories: