Former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing has responded to Glenn Tipton‘s recent comments where he said that he and the rest of PRIEST‘s current lineup weren’t aware of Downing‘s desire to come back to the band when they made their decision to hire producer Andy Sneap to play guitar on the Firepower tour.
When asked directly whether Downing expressed an interest in rejoining PRIEST for the “Firepower” tour, Tipton responded: “No. Right before we got Richie [Faulkner to replace K.K. in 2011], [bassist] Ian [Hill] said, ‘If you really want to come back, you’d better come back now’ because we were moving on. But he didn’t do anything. He didn’t ask to come back.”
After the interview started making rounds, Downing issued a response statement to Blabbermouth, saying: “There was not a position for me in the band until Glenn retired. And when he did, I quickly, obviously, stated that I was shocked and stunned not to receive a phone call [asking me to return to the band]. At that point, previous to that, working backwards, they were all in love with Richie, [as] posted on [Blabbermouth], stating that none of the fans are missing K.K. and Richie has brought a new energy to the band. Also Ian told me directly in person that Richie was a great guy and a great songwriter, despite only achieving two albums in the last 12 years. But that’s curious.
“And on top of that, really, what the world doesn’t know, really, [is] that the farewell tour [in 2011] that we were all planning to retire on and end the band, the Epitaph tour, that was what I decided to not participate in,” K.K. continued. “That was it. That’s what I thought I was doing — not leaving the band. Because we were all leaving the band; we were all going to finish the band and retire. So I thought that that’s the only thing that I was doing — was not participating in the farewell tour, quite simply because I really didn’t think, with everything that was happening, that I was going to enjoy the tour from a musical standpoint. And I didn’t want to end my long, credible history and legacy doing a tour for the fans that I wasn’t actually enjoying.”
“What people don’t know is in April that year , and I have the e-mails, I was speaking to Ian in April about changing my mind, ’cause all of my friends were encouraging me to just do the tour, saying, ‘You started the band. You need to finish it.’
“So I was talking to Ian, on and off, over a week, and I actually told him that I was reconsidering and asked him to send me over the setlist, which he did. And I called him back and said, ‘It looks great,’ because setlists were always a bone of contention in the band, really. And the next day they released a press release that I retired from the band,” he added. “This is what people don’t know. So, obviously, I took from that they didn’t want to include me.
“They had already kind of, obviously, anointed themselves and got familiar with Richie and it was a family and I was out. So, really, I consider myself ousted as much as anything else, because no one other than Ian got back to me, called me — no one from the management, nothing. So I felt pretty dejected about all of that, really. So if that was the way it was gonna be, that was the way it was gonna be.
“But, obviously, Glenn retiring was an ideal opportunity [for me to come back], because the musical thing and everything, the tension between me and Glenn on stage, more so than anything musically, I wasn’t happy with. So [this would have been a chance for] me [to] play alongside, obviously, a very competent player like Richie.”
Downing also accused his ex-bandmates of breaking promises regarding their shared business interests, saying they’d stopped paying him his share of income five years ago.
“Since about 2017… Previously they upheld their promise, even though they never gave my any accounts, they would make disbursements to me for what I was promised — you know, part of what I was entitled to from everything that I was a part of; obviously merchandise, et cetera,” he said. “And then that all stopped. I started to get legal letters. And I implored them, ‘Don’t go down this route. Let me come down. I’m happy to sit around a table and discuss any issues that need to be discussed.’ And they said no. And so the legal letters kept coming.
“They’ve ousted me as a director [of the PRIEST company Judas Priest Music Limited]. They’ve kicked me off the board, as it’s three of them and one of me. I’m still a 25 percent shareholder, but they said it’s worthless, it isn’t worth anything, and they don’t pay me anything of anything that I was involved with — period. So anyone that goes out and buys the 50th-anniversary box set, I do not get anything from it. I’ve asked them if I’m gonna get anything from it and they haven’t returned my e-mails. And it’s the same with any of the merchandise that you see on sale at the venues or in retail or anywhere else.”