From 1969 to 2011, K.K. Downing was a member of Judas Priest, and alongside Glenn Tipton made up one of metal’s all-time greatest guitar tandems. The pair helped power such classic albums as British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance, and Painkiller, along with headbanging anthems like “Breaking the Law,” “Living After Midnight,” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’.”
After Downing’s exit, Priest carried on with guitarist Richie Faulkner. But when it was announced in 2018 that Tipton was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and would no longer tour (aside from special appearances), it seemingly opened the door for Downing to return. But ultimately, the vacated slot went to Andy Sneap, the co-producer of Priest’s 2018 album, Firepower.
Despite a brief performance with Judas Priest at the band’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year, Downing says the door is now shut on a reunion.
Heavy Consequence recently caught up with Downing to discuss The Sinner Rides Again — the new album by his current band KK’s Priest — and we asked him if there were any circumstances in which he’d consider working with Judas Priest again.
“No. It’s done,” responded Downing. “Not an opportunity. That’s why the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, myself and Les [Binks, Priest’s drummer from 1977-1979], we were totally kept separate from the rest of the band. Flights, hotels, dressing rooms, everything was segregation. We weren’t allowed to walk the red carpet with them, and we were told that we were ‘guests of the band.’ Myself and Les, we were told that before we [arrived at the ceremony]. That’s why, when they said that, I’m thinking, ‘If it’s going to be like that, I’m not sure if it’s the right thing for me to go there and do it.’ But I had a right to accept my award. And that’s what I did.”
He added, “I didn’t know what it was going to be like. It was a long way to go to have to go through there and be a part of bullshit, really. It should have been different. Ian [Hill] and Rob [Halford], they tried to say hello. But it was just…I guess that’s because we had to perform together.”