Glenn Tipton has fired back at Kenneth "K.K." Downing, claiming that the former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist has been saying things about him that are "crazy" and "aren't fair."
K.K. left PRIEST in 2011 amid claims of band conflict, shoddy management and declining quality of performance.
In 2018, Downing revealed that he sent two resignation letters to his bandmates when he decided to quit JUDAS PRIEST. The first was described as "a graceful exit note, implying a smooth retirement from music," while the second was "angrier, laying out all of his frustrations with specific parties."
Downing later said that he believed the second letter was "a key reason" he wasn't invited to rejoin PRIEST after Tipton's decision to retire from touring.
In the new issue of Guitar World, Tipton offered his side of the story, saying that he "never wanted to get into a public argument after K.K. left. I never said a word and I stuck to my guns for over 10 years, but there comes a point when you read things that have been said that are just crazy," he said. "It's time to say something, really because he's saying things that he really shouldn't be saying. They aren't fair."
"He's insinuated that he was the driving force of the band," the 74-year-old continued. "It just isn't true. PRIEST [is] made up of five guys working together. [There's] not just one person driving the band. He's said all these things that, I think, are meant to upset us and get us to say something in response and for a long time we didn't. But I've got a lot to say and enough's enough."
The 70-year-old Downing, who wrote about his departure from PRIEST in his 2018 autobiography, "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest", said last year that he was unhappy with the band's live performances toward the end because Glenn "used to have too many beers before and during the concerts at the time. And I don't know what was going on. We had words about it. But musically, we weren't as footsure as I felt I wanted to be. I wasn't really happy with that. It was rock and roll. It's one of those things — it's rock and roll, or you're a band that really wants to lock it in tight. And that's what I used to get off on musically — was being really solid and locked in with those kick drums. You're either Keith Richards, and he's got a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other but you're still playing the guitar, or you're really digging deep."
In the Guitar World interview, Tipton dismissed Downing's claims as "silly". "Everyone knows it's not true," he said. "Like I said, the fans aren't stupid and they've seen me for 50 years playing around the world. I may have had a couple of beers onstage, but that's all. It's never affected the concert or my performance whatsoever and he knows that."
Tipton went on to say that he "used to piece [Downing's] leads together" in the studio. "I did a lot of editing to make his lead breaks worthwhile," he said.
"I would never have talked about Ken that way," he continued. "It's just that his accusations have gotten sillier and sillier — and I deserve to respond. He left the band. We couldn't convince him to stay. And then he accused me of taking six years off to write two solo albums. I only did the solo albums because we were inactive at the time while Rob [Halford, vocals] was doing his solo things."
Read the full interview with Tipton in the new issue of Guitar World.
Four years ago, Downing spoke in more detail about why he thinks Glenn's playing during JUDAS PRIEST's live concerts had deteriorated toward the end of his tenure with the band.
"Glenn, bless him, obviously. Not as though people would particularly notice, but there were times when it was noticeable. I do say in the book, I think there were times in the '80s Glenn would — I don't know — party too hard," K.K. said. "But that's his choice. It's rock and roll, and I'm not one to actually condone how people do it, how they do their show. I mean, it's rock and roll — lots of people go out there with a bottle of Jack Daniel's in their hands, or whatever they do. But there were times before — many times — and it made us all feel nervous, that Glenn was just more of a rock and roll party guy where the rest of us were… I would get nervous about my performance ability. I would wanna play perfectly every single night, and that was me — that was how I do it. Obviously, later on, Glenn [would enjoy his] beers, and that's harmless enough, but, after a point, it starts to affect the show a little bit. And I was getting nervous, the other guys were nervous. When Ripper [singer Tim Owens] was in the band, he was nervous. It's no different… I mean, if you're in a car with a couple of mates, and the driver is the only one that's been drinking, and he's still having a few swigs in the car, do you prefer it not to be happening if he's got your life in his hands? Well, if someone's got the gig in their hands, that's kind of how it feels — [it made us] a bit insecure; that's all. And it just wasn't for me. That was the main thing. And it just didn't help me enjoy the shows. If I'm nervous, it doesn't help me enjoy the show. I wanna listen to the music being absolutely precision — everybody locked into those kick drums and snare — and that's how I liked it… Everybody makes mistakes and everybody can be a bit sloppy at times if they're a bit tired and they're not feeling great. But if it's self-induced, then that's not right — it's what I think. It's a little bit selfish and inconsiderate, and I will say that now. But it's not to say that rock and roll is not rock and roll; it's a difficult one for me. But that, with a lot of other things that were going on, tipped me over the edge. If I had rode through that storm, I would probably still be on stage now. But who knows? It is what it is. If you fall out with your girlfriend, or if she falls out with you, if it's not reconciled fairly quickly, somebody could find a different partner and they get used to that different partner, and that's what happened. So, [it's] sad, really, in a way. I was the one guy… I'd never done a solo career — I never wanted do. I never wanted to have my own web site; never wanted to sell my own merchandise on the back of PRIEST. I was totally dedicated."
In "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest", Downing wrote that he told Tipton and PRIEST co-manager Jayne Andrews that he had "hated" them both "since 1985." Last year, he explained his outburst to Classic Rock magazine: "I was angry. Glenn had formed a relationship with Jayne from day one, and it felt a bit like a John-and-Yoko situation. I didn't like that."
Downing has called his replacement Richie Faulkner his "clone" and revealed that he "never found" Tipton "to be particularly easy to get along with. Very early on, I was fully aware of the limited conditions under which he operated," K.K. wrote in his book. "If you were going to relate to him, you would do so entirely on his terms."