K.K. DOWNING On IAN HILL's Explanation For Why Guitarist Wasn't Invited To Rejoin JUDAS PRIEST: 'Complete Load Of Bollocks'

K.K. DOWNING On IAN HILL's Explanation For Why Guitarist Wasn't Invited To Rejoin JUDAS PRIEST: 'Complete Load Of Bollocks'

Former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing has dismissed as a "load of bollocks" bassist Ian Hill's explanation for why he wasn't invited to rejoin the band following Glenn Tipton's decision to retire from the road due to his battle with Parkinson's disease.

In a recent interview with Backstage Axxess, Hill said that the idea of bringing Downing back to PRIEST was never entertained. "When he retired, we took on Richie [Faulkner], you know, so he's playing all Ken's parts," Ian said. "So, it's not Ken's [parts] that are missing, it's going to be Glenn's parts that he would be playing. Really, Ken, what's he going to do? Come over to my side of the stage and play Glenn's parts? It wasn't his job, if you know what I mean, that had become vacant. It was Glenn's. Glenn and Ken are two excellent guitarists, [but] both are completely different in styles and sounds, and for Ken to be playing Glenn's parts anyway, it really wouldn't have sounded right anyway. We never thought about Ken for that reason."

Asked by the "Cobras & Fire" podcast what he thought of Hill's justification for why K.K. wasn't contacted about coming back to PRIEST, Downing said (hear audio below): "Complete load of bollocks. If I had rejoined the band, obviously, I'd step into my role — that's where people would expect me to be — and Richie is already playing Glenn's parts anyway, and we'd do that. It wasn't the case where I was gonna play Glenn's parts and Richie plays mine.

"I was thinking, 'Ian, was it too early in the day or too late in the evening when you came up with this idea?'" K.K. continued. "I don't know. But bless him — bless him, because we were like brothers; we went to infant school together and secondary school together, and we lived our career together. But I'm not totally happy about what's being said. Ian seems to be [saying] things like, 'None of the fans are missing K.K.,' and, 'Richie has brought a new energy to the band.' And I'm going, 'Ian, dude, on that last tour, I was the energy. I slowed down because people weren't keeping up with me.'"

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Downing added: "That's a true story. 'Cause I started off that tour, I played a few shows, and then Scott [Travis, drums] made a comment, and he said, 'What do you mean, man? It's your show.' And I'm thinking, 'Did he think I'm trying to steal the limelight by doing what I've always done?' Then I started to back off, and then I was in an unhappy place from that point — I didn't want everybody to think I was trying to steal the limelight when I wasn't. 'Cause Rob's [Halford, vocals] reading his Autocue [teleprompter system] — he's slowed down — Glenn's going over there for a beer in between every song, and I'm thinking, 'Hmm… I don't know.'

"So I'm thinking, Ian, get a grip with yourself, mate. You've just replaced the energy with some energy. Fine — well, great. But that's not moving forward, Ian."

Tipton was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease four years ago — after being stricken by the condition at least half a decade earlier — but only recently announced he was going to sit out touring activities in support of PRIEST's latest album, "Firepower". The guitarist, who is now 70 and has performed on every PRIEST record since the band's 1974 debut set, "Rocka Rolla", is not quitting the band, but simply cannot handle the rigorous challenges of performing live. He is being replaced on tour by "Firepower" album producer Andy Sneap, also known for his work as the guitar player in NWOBHM revivalists HELL and cult thrash outfit SABBAT.

"Firepower" was released in March via Epic.

JUDAS PRIEST and DEEP PURPLE have joined forces for a co-headlining North American tour. The 25-date trek launched August 21 in Cincinnati and will conclude September 30 in Wheatland, California.

Downing's autobiography, "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest", will be released on September 18 via Da Capo Press. The book was co-written by the Scottish author and journalist Mark Eglinton, whose previous collaborations include "Official Truth, 101 Proof" with Rex Brown of PANTERA and "Confessions Of A Heretic" with BEHEMOTH's Adam "Nergal" Darski.

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