In a new interview with Metal Hammer magazine, original JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Kenneth "K.K." Downing ruled out ever performing with his former band again. "No," he replied bluntly when asked about making another appearance with PRIEST. "Before I started [my new band] KK'S PRIEST, I asked if they'd consider me stepping back into my rightful place, because at one point they announced they were going out as a four-piece. I was expecting to be back in the band when there was an opening, or at least to be asked. But Glenn [Tipton, PRIEST guitarist] and Ian [Hill, bassist] wrote through their lawyers saying a flat no, which made no sense, as I was there first. And Rob [Halford, PRIEST singer] left for 11 years, so how does he have the right to say 'I won't consider you rejoining'? I was instrumental in reinstating him into the band. Glenn wasn't interested in having Rob back; he wanted to keep Ripper [Tim Owens, who replaced Halford in PRIEST when the latter left in the early 1990s]. But I gave them one last chance, and I was, like, 'Are you sure? One day you might live to regret it.' Let's hope they don't."
Downing performed with PRIEST at last year's Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony in Los Angeles.
PRIEST received the Musical Excellence Award at the November 2022 event, which honored Eminem, Dolly Parton, DURAN DURAN, Lionel Richie, Pat Benatar, EURYTHMICS and Carly Simon in the Performers category.
The JUDAS PRIEST members that got inducted include current members Halford, Hill, Tipton and Scott Travis (drums),along with former members Downing, drummer Les Binks and late drummer Dave Holland.
Halford, Hill, Tipton and Travis were joined by Binks, Downing and current guitarist Richie Faulkner for a three-song medley consisting of "You've Got Another Thing Comin'", "Breaking The Law" and "Living After Midnight".
Faulkner, nearly three decades Downing's junior, joined PRIEST after K.K. left in 2011 amid claims of band conflict, shoddy management and declining quality of performance.
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.
Last November, Halford was asked in an interview with the San Antonio Current if performing with Downing at the Rock Hall ceremony helped put aside some of the acrimony that K.K. has shown about not being in band for these last few tours. Halford responded: "I think we should let the music speak for itself, really, because as you'll see from the performance, you'll see that all of that other stuff is irrelevant. All the things that have been said and suggested just float off into the air. What matters is what's going down on that stage at that time you're performing together. And there he is on my right-hand side. It just felt like he was always there. Look behind me and there's [Les], and the memories just are overwhelming. But, more than that, you're focusing on the moment that you're back together again and playing live. It was really a whirlwind. We were in each other's company for a very, very short space of time. We had very little time to communicate. But for the purpose of the induction of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame together, it was absolutely crucial that K.K. and Les were there. They were inducted, they needed to be in the room. And more than that, we were thrilled that they took the opportunity to say, 'Yeah, we'll come and jam on stage again with you guys.'"
In a separate interview with Lauren "Lern" Elwell of the KSHE radio station, Halford said it was "good" performing with Downing and Binks at the Rock Hall. He added: "We hadn't seen [Downing] forever. And I've still yet to watch footage of that. All I remember is my brief interactions with K.K., because I'm always running around the stage like a mad drag queen. My interactions with Ken and with Les, it was great. It felt wonderful to have that moment together after such a long time. And that just shows you the power, the weight, the vibe that the Rock Hall suggests you try to attempt. Try and recapture something of the essence that it really part of why you're here, why you're being inducted. I was just so happy that Ken and Les showed up, because they needed to be there. It was entirely their choice, but I said it makes absolute sense if you're in the room and we're playing together. And we did, and it was magical."