Former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing was recently interviewed on the "Unchained" show, which airs on the 101.8 WCR FM Wolverhampton Community Radio station in Wolverhampton, England. You can now listen to the third part of the chat below.
Asked why he made the decision to quit JUDAS PRIEST in 2011 after spending 42 years recording and touring with the band, K.K. said: "It was a lot of things — it was an awful lot of things. It was a really hard thing for me to do. And it all boiled down to the fact that things had changed in the industry to going around the world, living out of the suitcase, going over trodden ground. All that's fine, but only if you get the reward of really getting off and enjoying the shows. But I wasn't. So there were certain things that [needed to] change. Yeah, sure, we're getting older, but I didn't feel as though we were pulling our weight, really, as we should and what we normally do as a band."
Downing continued: "Certain things were happening. I just felt that some of the guys [in the band] were more going through the motions. 'Cause I always said to the guys, 'Look, the older we get, the younger we've gotta play.' I stick to that rule. But it wasn't happening. Glenn [Tipton, guitar] was drinking a few beers before [going on] and during [the show], on stage, so, musically, it was making me feel a bit nervous. And Rob [Halford, vocals] was reading all of his lyrics off teleprompters and stuff like that, so I didn't feel he was connecting with the audience like he should as a frontman. And that resulted in Scott [Travis], the drummer, looking pretty bored every time I looked around at him. And so that was a major factor. That, plus, [for] a long time, I wasn't happy with the internal things, with how decisions were made and who was making them, and stuff like that. And on top of that, you start to think, 'I made an awful lot of sacrifices.'… I didn't have children and I deprived my family of me for so many years. I was away when all of my grandparents died. I was always miles and miles away. And with my mom and stuff like that, I just thought that I wanted to give them something back — a part of me — before it's too late for them or something happened."
K.K. said that there were probably "15 or 20 reasons" why he eventually decided to leave PRIEST, adding that his relationship with some of his bandmates and members of the PRIEST management team had deteriorated too far to be repaired. "I tried to tactfully rectify problems that were there, but it just got to the point where I thought that something got to give, something's gotta change," he said. "But everything has to run its course, I guess."
Downing also once again confirmed that he never had a chance to even contemplate the possibility of rejoining PRIEST following Tipton's decision to retire from the road due to his battle with Parkinson's disease.
"There was an opportunity for me to return when Glenn retired, but that didn't happen," Downing said. "I was disgruntled about that, really, because I felt that I would have been able to return, really, if there was gonna be at least stability and security in the music and the live shows. But having said that, it didn't happen, so I guess the writing's on the wall. But I just remember and look back on, incredibly fondly, everything that was achieved."
Last summer, Downing revealed that he sent two resignation letters to his bandmates eight years ago 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 following Tipton's decision to retire from touring.