K.K. DOWNING: 'When GLENN TIPTON Retired, I Fully Expected That That Would Be The Opening' For Me To Return To JUDAS PRIEST
June 21, 2021
Founding JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing says that it is "absolutely" not true that he retired from the music industry after his exit from the band a decade ago.
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.
The 69-year-old Downing, who wrote about his departure from PRIEST in his 2018 autobiography, "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest", discussed his split with the group in a brand new interview with "The Ex-Man" podcast hosted by Doc Coyle (BAD WOLVES).
"I kind of skirted through that period in my book, really; I didn't really go into that much detail," K.K. said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
"No, I didn't retire — absolutely didn't.
"In 2010, things were coming to a boil; things were happening. I wasn't happy with the previous tour because… I love Glenn [Tipton, JUDAS PRIEST guitarist] and I respect him a lot, but he used to have too many beers before and during the concerts at the time. And I don't know what was going on. We had words about it. But musically, we weren't as footsure as I felt I wanted to be. I wasn't really happy with that. It was rock and roll. It's one of those things — it's rock and roll, or you're a band that really wants to lock it in tight. And that's what I used to get off on musically — was being really solid and locked in with those kick drums. You're either Keith Richards, and he's got a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other but you're still playing the guitar, or you're really digging deep.
"It's a long-winded thing, but Rob [Halford, vocals] was doing a lot of things with his own band — touring, doing the Ozzfest," Downing continued. "He released two studio albums the year I left — in that year, 2010. And then I was getting pressured to do an EP, and I'm going, 'We're not an EP band.' And it was the farewell tour. We were all retiring. That was the deal. I saw the press release, saying it was the end of the band and all of this. And I don't know. Maybe I just had some kind of breakdown, and I went, 'You know what? Have it. You want it? It's yours. Have it.'
"But what actually happened was a friend of mine was really encouraging me to do the [final] tour, and he was saying the right things, I guess: 'You've been there this long. It's just one more tour. You've gotta complete the journey.' And so I started to talk to Ian [Hill, JUDAS PRIEST bassist] over a period of about a week, saying, 'Ian, I think maybe I'll do it.' I'd ordered some guitar processors from Germany to do the tour; I was gonna do it. And I was talking to Ian about doing it. And I fully expected to get a message from the management saying, 'Are you gonna do it? Is it true you wanna do it?' But I never heard anything. And I didn't get the right feedback from Ian. My friend was giving me all this encouragement, but I wasn't getting the same sort of thing back from Ian. 'Cause me and Ian went to kindergarten together. We've been there every minute of this journey. But he wasn't saying the things that my friend was saying. But he would have been relaying things back to camp, back to base, but they weren't coming through. They sent a press release they were gonna release, saying, 'We're gonna release this tomorrow. Are you okay with the wording?' And I said to Ian, 'Can you e-mail me the setlist over? Let me see the setlist.' Which he did. And I phoned him back, saying, 'Ian, it looks great. I thought it would be all Glenn's choices. And [I said], 'It looks great.' But the next morning, they sent a press release saying I retired. So I sent in my second [resignation] letter [to PRIEST and the management] saying that — this is the truth — 'forget everything I said in my previous letter.' 'Cause I was trying to bail out amicably. And also knowing that those guys would have the purse strings. And I was a director of the company [that handles PRIEST's business affairs], and everything, and I knew I was gonna speak to 'em. But in the second letter, I just flipped and I told the truth why I really quit three months earlier. But they still told the fans and the world that I retired to look after my golf course. No, I didn't. I had professional managers. It had been open six years. It wasn't true. And I hated it, because I've had to carry this burden now with the fans thinking, 'K.K.'s an a-hole, because he deserted us. He did this to look after his golf course or retire.' Not true."
Downing added: "Straight away [after leaving PRIEST], I went in to produce the VIOLENT STORM album with [producer] Roy Z. I asked Roy Z to help me out on that one, because I was doing some other things as well. Straight away, I did the arranging for all of the songs, helping out. And that album turned out pretty good. And that was a band called VIOLENT STORM with Mick Cervino from BLACKMORE'S NIGHT and Yngwie Malmsteen. And then I went to do other things — mentoring younger bands. I was recording. I recorded [a version of PRIEST's] 'Beyond The Realms [Of Death]' again [for the DEVILSTAR project] with Les [Binks, former JUDAS PRIEST drummer]. And Ripper [ex-JUDAS PRIEST singer Tim Owens] was on that as well, wasn't he? So, I continued to do things all the time, but always expecting that there would be an opening. And when Glenn retired, I fully expected that that would be the opening. But they never called me. So, essentially, those guys are going out there playing my songs and stuff like that. So if they can call themselves PRIEST, I feel totally entitled to be a PRIEST also, and to be able to play my songs."
Last year, Downing announced the formation of KK'S PRIEST, in which he is joined by Owens, guitarist A.J. Mills (HOSTILE),bassist Tony Newton (VOODOO SIX) and drummer Sean Elg (DEATHRIDERS, CAGE).
KK'S PRIEST's debut album, "Sermons Of The Sinner", will be released on August 20 via Explorer1 Music Group/EX1 Records. The LP's first single, "Hellfire Thunderbolt", came out last month. The title track followed last week.
Tipton was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease seven years ago — after being stricken by the condition at least half a decade earlier — but announced in February 2018 he was going to sit out touring activities in support of PRIEST's latest album, "Firepower". He was replaced by "Firepower" album producer Andy Sneap, who is also known for his work in NWOBHM revivalists HELL and cult thrash outfit SABBAT.