Ex-JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing says that it was "wrong" of his former bandmates not to approach him about rejoining the group.
Earlier this year, Downing released a statement in which he said that he was "shocked and stunned" that he wasn't invited to return to JUDAS PRIEST following Glenn Tipton's announcement that he would no longer be touring with the band due to his battle with Parkinson's disease.
Speaking to WFMU's "The Goddamn Dave Hill Show", Downing said that PRIEST and their management should have considered the fans' wishes when deciding on a touring replacement for Tipton.
"I didn't mean to cause any controversy or any trouble or anything, but I was disgruntled, really," Downing said about his original statement (hear audio below). "I mean, I said I was shocked and stunned that they didn't ask me to step in when there was a position, because if I had said, 'No. I'm not able to do it,' for whatever reason, at least it would have been good for them. They could say, 'Well, we asked K.K., because we understand that the fans have a voice too. The fans are responsible for our success. The fans have been loyal to us for 40 years. The fans also have a voice and an opinion.' But they didn't do that, which I think was wrong — I think that was wrong to do that. But, obviously, if I had said, 'Yes, I'll step in and resume my position,' then I think that I had a right to do that, really, because I wasn't able to continue with Glenn towards the end."
According to Downing, Tipton's drinking before and during PRIEST concerts affected Glenn's performances to the point where K.K. stopped enjoying playing.
"Quite simply, I'm that type of musician — I like everything really tight; I like to get off on the music; I like to know that everybody's got my back if I faux pas, that we're all watching out for each other," Downing explained. "There's no room for any weaknesses up there, because it's a dangerous place to be as well, and we have to keep our eyes open — accidents can happen.
"I said to the guys, 'The older we get, the younger we've gotta play.' But it wasn't happening; it was just slowing down," K.K. continued. "It's always gonna be a great show — people are always gonna wanna enjoy it, 'cause they've traveled and paid the money for the ticket, and they're listening to the songs and seeing their favorite band. So it's always gonna be great, but when you break it down, it's not that great.
"I always maintain that we've gotta be able to entertain an audience — no matter how big — just with our amplifiers, our stage clothes and our performance," Downing added. "You've gotta be able to perform and entertain with nothing — no stage set, no nothing. Strip it all down. Because that's what we used to do — it's what made the band into a great band. We were able to do that with nothing in the early days… We had nothing. We had to bring the music and the PRIEST identity, but also perform. We had to be able to build individually and as a band something that was charismatic, something that people would be drawn to with our presence on that stage. And it wasn't easy — we had to work at that and become that person."
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.
Downing, who is a founding member of the British heavy metal legends and was part of the group since 1969, announced his retirement from PRIEST in April 2011. He has since been replaced by Richie Faulkner, who was once the guitarist in the backing group for Lauren Harris, daughter of IRON MAIDEN bassist Steve Harris.
Downing's autobiography, "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest", was 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.