In a recent interview with “Rock Of Nations With Dave Kinchen And Shane McEachern,” Kenneth “K.K.” Downing, the founding guitarist of JUDAS PRIEST, was asked about the possibility of reuniting with his ex-band members for a performance in the future.
He responded: “Well, I asked them if they want me to step back into the role a couple of times in writing, and the answer came back, ‘No.’ So it is what it is. And then I went, ‘Okay, fine. Then I will start [a new] band,’ and that’s what I’ve done [with KK’S PRIEST]. And now I’m pretty happy, really, because I’ve rediscovered… I mean, I used to write all the material for the band back in the late ’60s, early ’70s and I forgot what it was like to be… It’s kind of nice to put material down and just say what goes and what doesn’t yourself, without having to collaborate and everything takes so long. It’s great just to get on with it.”
Downing expressed his particular anguish over the apparent decision of his co-founder of PRIEST, bassist Ian Hill, to oppose K.K.’s reintegration into the band.
“Honestly, the worst thing about the whole thing is that Ian has denied me the opportunity to step back into the band,” K.K. said. “I mean, we went to kindergarten together; we were like brothers. And we spent many years at the back of the bus complaining about everybody else. [Laughs] I always thought it was me and him for many years. But I just don’t know how that can happen, like I say. And Rob [Halford, vocals] left the band for 14 years. And when I was instrumental in inviting him back into the band. How can he deny me the opportunity to go on stage and play my songs? They’re saying, ‘We’re gonna do it, but you can’t.’ Because Ian and Rob never wrote any of the music for this band.”
When asked if he believes that Ian has been influenced by JUDAS PRIEST‘s management, or by Rob and guitarist Glenn Tipton to prevent his return to the band, Downing responded: “Something’s wrong somewhere. It doesn’t make sense. How can Ian, the bass player that’s never written any songs, deny me the opportunity of being in the band? All of those years, and I’ve written all of those songs and riffs, but how can he stand over there and play bass and not allow me to play the guitar to those songs? It doesn’t make any sense. And it doesn’t make any sense not to have the original guy back from the trademark lineup. It doesn’t make any sense. Am I that bad? [Laughs] But anyway, so I’ve gone ahead and made two albums [with KK’S PRIEST] in two years, and those guys have done two albums in 14 years. I just don’t get it. I don’t get it.”
Asked if he believes that lawyers and management are the root cause of the conflicts among the members of the original PRIEST lineup, K.K. said: “Well, somebody out there has decided that ‘I am gonna change history and I’m gonna be the one that’s gonna decide what the fans hear and what they don’t and who they see and who they don’t.’ Somebody in that band is making those decisions. But they only have it on their conscience, really, because we all know what the fans… I mean, [former PRIEST vocalist Tim] Ripper [Owens] is a great singer and he made two great albums with us. We did so many tours and he’s a lovely guy and he’s great, but the fan demand to have Rob back in the band was just too overwhelming, really, because Rob, I guess, their assertion is Rob is the voice of the band, just like Freddie Mercury with QUEEN or Bruce [Dickinson] with [IRON] MAIDEN, and the list goes on and on and on. So that’s undeniable. And I think that Tim would be the first to acknowledge that and get that. Even if he sang the songs better, as we spoke, Rob is the voice of JUDAS PRIEST. But now gladly Ripper is the voice of KK’S PRIEST, because that guy is singing so much better than even I’ve ever heard him before. It’s fantastic. So I’m so fortunate to have him back in the saddle with us.”