K.K. DOWNING: 'I Was In Disbelief' When GLENN TIPTON Picked ANDY SNEAP To Replace Him On 'Firepower' Tour
December 7, 2021
In a brand new interview with Metal Edge magazine's "Another FN Podcast With Izzy Presley", founding JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing, who is promoting the debut album from his KK'S PRIEST project, spoke about the circumstances that led to his departure from PRIEST more than a decade ago. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "In 2010, we were all going to retire, we were all going to finish the band. That was the plan. We had decided, and we were putting together the press statements and everything announcing [the final tour]. And they asked us to pick a title for the farewell tour, hence 'Epitaph', which was there. I decided I wasn't gonna do that farewell tour because I really didn't know if I was gonna enjoy it. And after a lifetime of success and my whole legacy, I didn't wanna do a tour that I really felt I wasn't gonna enjoy. And so I opted out of that last tour, And then, a few months later, I changed my mind. I was talking to Ian [Hill, PRIEST bassist] about doing [the tour] and [asked him] to send the setlist over, but they sent the press release out [to the media announcing my departure]. And that made me really angry then. So I sent a sharp letter in to Glenn [Tipton, PRIEST guitarist] and Jayne [Andrews, PRIEST manager] — very sharp letter — because I felt that they had made their decision anyway. They'd found somebody new. And I thought that was the wrong thing to do because it's changing the course of history."
Downing also talked about the fact that PRIEST didn't approach him to rejoin the band when Tipton — who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease seven years ago after being stricken by the condition at least half a decade earlier — announced in early 2018 he was going to sit out touring activities in support of the band's latest album, "Firepower". He was replaced by "Firepower" producer Andy Sneap, who is also known for his work in NWOBHM revivalists HELL and cult thrash outfit SABBAT.
"I was shocked and stunned when they didn't give me a call, because I was sitting there waiting for an opportunity," K.K. said. "Okay, they got Richie [Faulkner] in [to replace me in 2011] — they wanted him — but at some point, I felt that there would be an opportunity, whenever that may be. So when Glenn handed the guitar over to Andy, I was in disbelief. I consider Andy a friend — I'd been to his studio and worked up there, and we talk. And he will admit himself — even in his own band HELL, he wasn't a lead guitar in that band 'cause Kevin [Bower] was the lead guitar player. So I thought that was extremely odd because it has changed the course of history for the band, really. But I kept asking them, 'Are you sure the door [is closed]?' Because Andy always said that he would step down any time for me to [go] back [to the band], and he said in the press that he would do it as long as they asked him to do it. And they've since said that Andy is just their touring guitarist, so they only have one guitarist, it seems to me. But anyway, [it was] not to be. They set their lawyers on me and didn't want any part of me, so I just [decided to] move on."
Downing left PRIEST amid claims of band conflict, shoddy management and declining quality of performance.
In 2019, Downing said that he reached out to JUDAS PRIEST about taking part in the band's 50th-anniversary tour but that their response was that they were not interested in including him in the celebrations.
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 his 2018 autobiography "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest", Downing wrote that he told Tipton and Andrews that he had "hated" them both "since 1985." Earlier this 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."