The only thing preventing a reunion between Judas Priest and longtime guitarist K.K. Downing is Judas Priest.
After Priest refused or ignored Downing's attempts to return two years ago after Glenn Tipton's Parkinson's diagnosis, Downing says it's time for him to move on with his own music in his new project, K.K.'s Priest.
Downing has been estranged from his former bandmates since departing from the band in 2011. While Judas Priest announced at the time that their guitarist of over 40 years had retired, Downing says that was merely an attempt to save face and cover up friction between both parties.
"It was always confirmed that the door was closed, and they're happy the way that they are," Downing tells Ultimate Classic Rock. "That's a bit strange, really. I mean, Andy [Sneap], for example, they consider him to be a touring guitar player, so I don't know. It's all a bit odd and strange — especially since they told the world for 10 years that I retired. If that's true, why wouldn't they allow me to come out of retirement?"
Downing has maintained his interest in the band since he was replaced by Ritchie Faulkner. He admits that it's frustrating that now that he wants to return, he isn't being granted the same courtesy Rob Halford was afforded in 2003 when he returned after more than a decade.
"When Rob left the band for 14 years, I obviously allowed him, of course, to rejoin the band," Downing explained. "At the end of the day, you have to listen to the fans, really. That's what I think."
Speaking last week on The Ex-Man podcast with Doc Coyle, Downing explained that he expected to return to Priest after Tipton announced he was taking a step back. Judas Priest clearly had other ideas, hiring their Firepower album producer Sneap.
Downing launched K.K.'s Priest in 2019 to allow him to get back on the road playing classic Judas Priest music and new material.
Sermons of the Sinner, the debut album by K.K.'s Priest, arrives August 20.
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