Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner offered to sit out the band's performance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction earlier this month, since he was not being inducted with his bandmates.
Faulkner joined Judas Priest in 2011, following the departure of cofounding guitarist K.K. Downing. But with Downing present at the ceremony and ready to perform, Faulkner was prepared to step aside.
Frontman Rob Halford, however, had other ideas, and the rest of the parties involved agreed that Faulkner should perform.
"He's a miracle man, especially when you consider what he's been through with his challenges," Halford said in a new radio interview, referring to Faulkner's near-death experience last year. "And he needed to be onstage. Because originally he said, 'I don't think I should be onstage.' I go, 'Richie, you have to be onstage. It's important. I can't properly express the words 'cause it's a feeling for me. I feel you need to be on that stage with us.' And so did everybody else; everybody else felt that way."
Beyond taking over for Downing, Faulkner has been a crucial part of Judas Priest's recent albums, including the band's critically lauded 2019 record, Firepower.
Halford described Faulkner as an inspirational figure and livign personification of the resilience of Judas Priest and of heavy metal music.
"...[I]t was important that he was on that stage and showing people the wonders of survivability and the great thing that the medical profession and the healing and health world can do, and some of the Lord's divine intervention, all of these things kept Richie with us," Halford said.
Faulkner himself called his band's evening at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame "surreal," noting that as a lifelong Judas Priest fan, performing along side both Downing and Glenn Tipton was like "an experience I'll never forget."
During a Judas Priest show in the fall of 2021, Faulkner experienced an an acute cardiac aortic dissection — a freakish and extremely deadly condition in which the largest artery in the body breaks open and spills blood into the chest cavity.
Faulkner was just 41 at the time and had no family history of heart issues or warning signs of the condition. His life was saved after 10 hours of surgery at the Rudd Heart and Lung Center in Louisville, Kentucky, which was thankfully located just a few miles from the venue.
Over the summer, Faulkner underwent a subsequent open heart surgery to repair a leak of sorts in his surgically-repaired heart. After several weeks in recovery, he was back on the road for Judas Priest's North American tour.