K.K. DOWNING Weighs In On JUDAS PRIEST's 'Insulting' Announcement It Would Tour As Quartet: 'It Was A Slap In The Face'
January 21, 2022
Former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing says that he was "totally bemused" to hear about the band's plan to embark on the next leg of its 50th-anniversary tour as a quartet.
On January 10, JUDAS PRIEST announced that it would perform as a four-piece when it returns to the road in early March. A few hours later, the band's touring guitarist Andy Sneap, who co-produced the group's 2018 album "Firepower", released a statement to BLABBERMOUTH.NET in which he said that he was "incredibly disappointed" by PRIEST's decision to carry on as a quartet and thanked the Rob Halford-fronted outfit for the "mind-blowing" opportunity to share the stage with one of his favorite bands. Meanwhile, PRIEST fans were understandably upset about the band's decision to forgo its classic twin-guitar attack sound and made their feelings known on social media. Some even called for the return of Downing, who joined PRIEST in 1970 and remained in the group until 2011.
On January 15, JUDAS PRIEST released a statement announcing that it was reversing its decision to tour as a four-piece, explaining that the bandmembers "decided unanimously" to continue their live shows "unchanged" with Rob, Ian Hill (bass),Richie Faulkner (guitar),Scott Travis (drums) and Andy.
Sneap, who is also known for his work in NWOBHM revivalists HELL and cult thrash outfit SABBAT, began touring with PRIEST four years ago after longtime guitarist Glenn Tipton — who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease eight 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 "Firepower".
Downing weighed in on PRIEST's change of heart in a brand new interview with the "Rock Of Nations With Dave Kinchen" classic rock show. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I'm like everybody else. I'm totally bemused. It was just so extreme and insulting in a way, I guess, and insulting to Glenn as well. It was kind of a slap in the face, saying, 'Okay, you two guys did it, but we think just one guy could do what…' It kind of made us and everything that we've done and created, saying it was all superfluous, really, and didn't really have the value that… I'm sure Glenn will agree with me that it does have a value."
K.K. went on to say that it is "very, very strange" for PRIEST "to even think about" the possibility of going out as a quartet. "There must be, obviously, something behind the scenes that we don't know," he reasoned.
"It's kind of awkward for me, guys, because with myself and Glenn, that's JUDAS PRIEST to me," he added. "I think I've got a license to say that, after spending a lifetime in the band. And the image and everything and all the shows and all the work and all the albums and everything, everything revolves around that. I mean, if you don't see Glenn's red pants on stage, it's not JUDAS PRIEST, right?
"Okay, I created an image with the flying V [guitar], long blond hair, leather and studs — I created that.
"It's easy to use the wheel, but inventing it is a different story," he said.
Hill is the sole remaining original member of PRIEST, which formed in 1969. Halford joined the group in 1973 and Tipton signed on in 1974. Rob left PRIEST in the early 1990s to form his own band, then came back to PRIEST in 2003. Downing parted ways with the band more than a decade ago and was replaced by Faulkner.
Last November, JUDAS PRIEST announced the rescheduled "50 Heavy Metal Years" North American tour dates for March-April 2022. Support on the trek will come from QUEENSRŸCHE.
K.K. departed the iconic band 11 years ago but looked back on his time with the British metal titans in his autobiography, "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest", which came out in September 2018. The book, which was written with collaborator Mark Eglinton, covers all of the behind-the-scenes turbulence that led to Downing's exit from PRIEST, including his strained relationship with Tipton and his gripes with certain managerial decisions.