K.K. DOWNING Doesn't Regret Leaving JUDAS PRIEST: 'It Had Kind Of Run Its Course'
September 8, 2018
Former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing recently spoke with Jimmy Kay of Canada's The Metal Voice about his forthcoming autobiography, "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest". The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET and The Metal Voice).
On his relationship with JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Glenn Tipton:
K.K.: "There always was a great amount of mutual respect for each other, and still is, certainly from my part. There's no doubt about that. We would spend more time together, myself and Glenn, than we did with any girlfriends or wives anything. We were very productive, very prolific and I think we were the driving force in a lot of ways because we had to create the songs to be sung. It was an an awful amount of work and time spent together. Was there some competitive rivalry? Not really on my behalf. I always felt like I was fairly easygoing, because the most important thing to me was the band, the name JUDAS PRIEST. Myself and Glenn, we went through decades through thick and thin, and it was a great relationship but idiosyncrasies creep in, don't they? Just like any old married couple. [Laughs]. At some point, it boils over a little bit and something has to give, and that's it, really. People do things how they like to do them in certain ways. It's tough in any relationship — you have to really work at it, and I felt that I did."
On why he didn't solo as much on latter-day PRIEST albums:
K.K.: "Maybe I was a bit too easygoing. My inspiration was to make the band, big not myself big. It just came, the awareness really, that we might divide the solos up at the end of the recordings, and I would have ten and Glenn would have ten, but maybe mine were ten 15-second solos, but Glenn's were a lot longer. It went on a bit like that, really, and I kind of let that slip a little bit. But the albums are still great, the songs were great and the solos were great. I was probably a little bit more easygoing. You try to get five people to form a relationship and a band together, [and] inevitably, without you knowing it, some kind of pecking order starts to formulate. There's always going to be some people aspire to their egos. There's always something that happens. That's why so many great bands didn't last that long, because things get in the way. But I always tried to keep us absolutely as democratic and everything a level playing field as much as possible, and I still have great respect for all my band mates today."
On the band's longevity:
K.K.: "I did well; we all did well; and the guys are still doing well, so good luck and congratulations. As long as it can go on, really, it's in everyone's interest that JUDAS PRIEST continue — really, forever, if possible."
On Ian Hill's recent comments about why the group didn't invite Downing to rejoin once Tipton went public with his Parkinson's disease diagnosis:
K.K.: "I didn't understand that. That was really weird, because obviously, Richie [Faulkner] plays both my parts and Glenn's parts, and I'm sure Richie would be the first one to go, 'K.K., have your place back. You do your thing, and I'll continue playing Glenn's [parts] or we can share Glenn's. We can do whatever we want — bits and pieces, you know. There's a way to work everything out.' It was never going to be a case that I would step in and play Glenn's parts. That was crazy. I don't have an understanding of what Ian was saying."
On former JUDAS PRIEST singer Tim "Ripper" Owens:
K.K.: "Tim did a fantastic job. What an incredible guy. We gave it a good, fair crack of the whip. We would come off the stage [after] playing a fantastic gig, and Ripper totally killed it, but you would still get fans backstage saying, 'Hey, K.K., when is Rob coming back?' That kind of was the theme throughout. Apart from the odd exception here and there — probably VAN HALEN and AC/DC, for different reasons — it's one voice to one band. It's kind of a familiar thing, and that's what the fans kind of endear [themselves] to. I'm kind of the same myself, really... I think it's true to say that PRIEST had such a legacy with so many songs with Rob singing on them that there was always a requirement for the fans to have Rob back and hear him sing them again."
On whether he regrets leaving JUDAS PRIEST:
K.K.: "No, because it had kind of run its course as it was. Myself and Glenn, even though we were very much a partnership, we would do things differently on stage. Glenn was a bit more rock 'n' roll, have some beers, and I was there, totally attentive and wanting perfection, every note, every beat. So we kind of drifted apart a little bit that way. Not to say who's right and who's wrong — we're supposed to all get on there and enjoy what we were doing — but I wasn't enjoying it as much as I felt I should, really. I like to give 100 percent, because I think that's what the fans travel for, pay for and expect. It just didn't suit me, so a change had to happen, and that was it, really."
"Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest" will be released on September 18 via Da Capo Press. The book was co-written by the Scottish author and journalist Mark Eglinton, whose previous collaborations include "Official Truth, 101 Proof" with Rex Brown of PANTERA and "Confessions Of A Heretic" with BEHEMOTH's Adam "Nergal" Darski.
K.K. announced his retirement from PRIEST in April 2011. He has since been replaced by Faulkner, who was once the guitarist in the backing group for Lauren Harris, daughter of IRON MAIDEN bassist Steve Harris.
Earlier this year, Downing released a statement in which he said that he was "shocked and stunned" that he wasn't approached to rejoin JUDAS PRIEST following Tipton's announcement that he would no longer be touring with the band due to his battle with Parkinson's disease.