K.K. DOWNING On His Return To Live Stage: 'It Was A Bit Of A Whirlwind'
August 11, 2019
Former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing joined ex-MANOWAR axeman Ross "The Boss" Friedman on stage earlier today (Sunday, August 11) at this year's Bloodstock Open Air festival at Catton Park, Derbyshire, United Kingdom to perform four songs. This marked K.K.'s first public performance since October 17, 2009 when JUDAS PRIEST played the final "British Steel 30th Anniversary" date on the "Nostradamus" world tour at Japan's Loud Park festival in Chiba City, Japan.
Speaking to "The Unchained Rock Show" after his performance, Downing said (hear audio below): "It was a bit of a whirlwind. I was saying to the other guys there, I don't know whether I dropped from a helicopter as a bungee jumper, once I landed after 20 seconds and realized where I was, I was good after that point."
According to K.K., the pairing with Ross was the perfect way for him to get reintroduced to the live stage, especially because of their respective standing in the upper echelons of the heavy metal genre.
"Ross has been around a long time; he goes back," Downing said. "And those guys are full-on metal — same as me. 'Cause originally, I was just meant to pick up an award here. And the guys said, 'Well, you're gonna get on a stage. You think you wanna put a guitar on.' And I said, 'I'm not Ed Sheeran. I'm not gonna go busking on a bloody stage.' 'I know — what about jumping on with Ross?' Because the format, being a four-piece, I jump in and make it a guitar duo — that makes sense. First and foremost, I didn't want it to be disruptive to their set… I just came on as a special guest and did that at the end of their set. And I think it's not a bad thing to try and do things like that. Maybe this could be the first of many things where bands get together and perform together."
Downing went on to say that he had very little time to rehearse with Ross's band. "The guys landed… Some of the guys came in from L.A. via Paris the same day we were supposed to be rehearsing," he explained. "But we did manage to squeeze an hour or so in the following day. To be honest, we didn't have the experience of, like… A lot of the bands today, they're on tour… It was a jam, really… And there was quite a bit of improvisation in there. And that's where it is."
Fan-filmed video footage of Downing's appearance — consisting of the PRIEST classics "Green Manalishi", "Heading Out On The Highway", "Breaking The Law" and "Running Wild" — can be seen below.
Downing left PRIEST in 2011 amid claims of band conflict, shoddy management and declining quality of performance. He was replaced by Richie Faulkner, nearly three decades his junior.
Last summer, 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 Glenn Tipton's decision to retire from touring.
Downing's autobiography, "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest", was released in September via Da Capo Press.
A founding member of MANOWAR, Ross recorded six albums with the band before leaving after 1988's "Kings Of Metal".
ROSS THE BOSS is currently recording its new album for a 2020 release via AFM Records.
The band's latest album, "By Blood Sworn", was released last year to critical acclaim.