Ex-JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing says that the band's upcoming induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame will bring about a "completeness" to the group's career. PRIEST will receive the Musical Excellence Award at the fall 2022 event, which will honor Eminem, Dolly Parton, DURAN DURAN, Lionel Richie, Pat Benatar, EURYTHMICS and Carly Simon in the Performers category.
In an interview with Danny Stoakes, Downing stated about the honor: "It brings about a completeness to a career after so long. It's no secret, we're all men of an age now — I'm 70 — and you start to look back. Together with winning several nominations and achieving a Grammy and the same thing happening now with the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, I think it's job done."
The award for Musical Excellence — which was originally titled the "Sidemen" category when it debuted — is given to artists, musicians, songwriters and producers whose originality and influence creating music have had a dramatic impact on music.
Back in 2010, when the Sidemen category was renamed the award for Musical Excellence, Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Foundation president Joel Peresman told The Plain Dealer the category "gives us flexibility to dive into some things and recognize some people who might not ordinarily get recognized."
JUDAS PRIEST is the second band to receive the award for Musical Excellence; the E STREET BAND was the first. Last year, late OZZY OSBOURNE and QUIET RIOT guitarist Randy Rhoads was one of the recipients of the Musical Excellence Award.
The induction ceremony will be held on November 5, 2022 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. It will air at a later date on HBO and stream on HBO Max. There will also be a radio simulcast on SiriusXM's Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Radio channel 310.
JUDAS PRIEST was previously on the ballot for Rock Hall induction in 2020, but failed to receive enough votes to make that year's class.
Having been eligible for induction since 1999, PRIEST was also on the ballot for the 2018 class of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, but was ultimately left out of the inductee list.
On Wednesday (May 4),K.K. told Eonmusic about PRIEST being inducted into the Rock Hall: "Yeah, it's one of those things, I think; it was like the Grammy; when you get nominated that amount of times and don't win, when you actually do win, it takes the edge off it a bit, because you've failed a lot of times. But it's better to score the goal at the end of the game. Laughs]"
Asked if it feels like "a real triumph" that he will be able to stand with his "brothers in music" to receive the award, Downing said: "I'm not sure, really. I hadn't thought about that. Is that going to happen? Is it? I think it's November, and a lot can happen between now and then, mate."
As for whether he is thinking about possibly strapping on the guitar and playing with the guys again at the event, Downing said: "I thought about it briefly, when we were nominated, what would happen. But like I say, it's November and a lot of things can happen between now and then, especially with men of an age like us. But I think it's just a question of seeing how everything lies when it comes to them, really, because a lot of things can happen between now and then — a lot of things could get better, but they could get worse, or stay the same. You never know, do you?"
When asked what being inducted into the Rock Hall means to him personally, K.K. said: "I'm particularly delighted because as far as I know, the nominees when we failed last time were me, Glenn [Tipton, guitar], Ian [Hill, bass] and Rob [Halford, vocals], and Scott [Travis, drums], and [former members] Les Binks and Dave Holland. In that case, I'm really quite delighted for my buddies, really; Les and Dave, bless him, even though he's not here [Dave passed away on 16th January 2018). Obviously, a lot of cherished memories, a lot of gigs together, you know. They were an integral part for a long time. Dave did a lot — from 'British Steel'  onwards, and when you think about it, it's quite a while, through to 'Ram It Down' , through the period of the wonderful decade of the Eighties. It was the glory times. Like I say, I'm pleased for Dave, and Les, really. Les was there on those important albums as well."
On Tuesday (May 3),Halford told Billboard that PRIEST's former members are welcome to be part of the induction, and he feels any animosities can be set aside for the occasion.
"They have every right to be a part of the event," he said. "I'm very pleased for everybody. There's no bitterness. There's no angst. There's not that kind of stuff that's lingering. If there is you have to push all that away. You have to push it to the side and just understand and accept and respect this wonderful opportunity and what it represents in terms of recognition and a celebration."
Halford went on to say that Tipton — who's battling Parkinson's disease but was on the road playing during the encores of PRIEST's latest North American tour — will likely attend the ceremony.
Downing left PRIEST in 2011 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 February, Hill and Halford told Billboard that they would be happy to stand alongside Downing at a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction later this year. "It's not a problem to us, no," Hill said. "Ken was an integral part of this band for a very, very long time. He deserves to be there along with the rest of us." Halford predicted that, "It won't be as awkward as Ace [Frehley] and Peter [Criss with KISS's Rock Hall induction]. I don't think it'll be awkward at all. I think you have to let all of that go because it's the night that matters. It's the moment that matters — but, again, the proverbial saying, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it."