K.K. DOWNING Tells How He Came Up With Idea For JUDAS PRIEST’s Twin-Guitar Sound

K.K. Downing

In a new interview with “The Rock Show With Lee Graham,” former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing spoke about how he came up with the idea of adding a second guitarist to the band’s early lineup, thereby creating the legendary twin-guitar sound that is synonymous with PRIEST.

“We were just a four-piece for quite a long time, really. And that particular period kind of set a precedent, I think, for everything that I thought was in my mind as best as I could do it, really,” Downing said. “The goal was to be heavy, whatever that meant. And what it really meant was to be emotional with attitude and to be different to what other people were doing, because what other people were doing had a different target audience. So kind of that’s what it was about. And then, as time went on, the idea came about… We managed to get a record deal but they said, ‘Look, there’s too many bands who have the same lineup — FREELED ZEPPELINBLACK SABBATH, whatever. What about you guys having a saxophone player?’ And I go, ‘No way. You can keep your record deal.’ ‘A keyboard player?’ ‘No. Sorry.’ So I sat and thought about it. I thought, ‘Can we get a record deal and appease these guys?’

“And I’m thinking maybe a second guitar player. And I really thought that was a good idea, for lots of reasons. It would fill out the sound when I’m doing a solo. And I’m thinking if we can get another guitar player that can write, and he’s a lead guitar player as well, we’ll be two lead guitar players, two strong songwriters, it will fortify the band. And musically, we can venture into worlds that people haven’t gone into yet. I had this crazy idea we can create heavy harmonies.

“And we did have a go at that. Because usually harmonies… ‘Cause at the time you heard bands like THE ALLMAN BROTHERS and the JAMES GANG and the great WISHBONE ASH, and I wasn’t a great fan because it kind of sounded a bit too light. ‘Cause that’s what harmonies do — when you start to build harmonies, they start to sound like chord structures, which they inevitably will, ’cause harmonizing with one note will build a chord. So I’m thinking we’ll create… And we ventured out. And we eventually did. There is such a thing as diminished harmonies. You can stack minor thirds together — fine. It will sound not too pleasing to a lot of people, but to me it sounded great; it was dissonant.”

“We got together [with Glenn Tipton]. And obviously, musically, what Glenn and myself brought together maybe didn’t always agree, but I had a great appreciation, and I think Glenn did as well, is the fact that a band, it’s a combination of people,” he continued. “And so some of the more melodic stuff, the slightly more commercial stuff that Glenn would come up with, I was in acceptance of that because I’m thinking that if we wanna really be successful with our music, then we really do need to broaden our horizons. And obviously, the combination worked incredibly well.”