Former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Kenneth "K.K." Downing says that he would be open to rejoining the band if he was approached about it the right way.
Last summer, Downing revealed that he sent two resignation letters to his bandmates eight years ago when he decided to quit JUDAS PRIEST. The first was described as "a graceful exit note, implying a smooth retirement from music," while the second was "angrier, laying out all of his frustrations with specific parties."
Downing later said that he believed the second letter was "a key reason" he wasn't invited to rejoin PRIEST following Glenn Tipton's decision to retire from the road due to his battle with Parkinson's disease.
During a recent interview with Backstage Axxess, Downing was asked if he would ever consider playing with his former bandmates again, either for a full tour or a special one-off event.
"Well, you kind of say in the music industry, 'Never say never,'" K.K. responded (hear audio below). "So it's all a question of how you're being asked and under what circumstances you're being asked. It's not just a question of somebody picking up the phone and saying, 'Oh, K.K., do you feel like doing this? We'd really like to have you back with us just for this special moment.' And then you start thinking about, 'If we did that, then we could do this.' It's all about how you're asked. But it somebody picks up the phone and says, 'Yeah, a couple of people from the record company have asked if you'd do this with us,' it's a different thing. That's the way we are as humans. I mean, probably not everybody is maybe as sensitive as me, but it's all in the asking, isn't it?"
He continued: "I've had a couple of relationships myself in my life, and the ladies have often said to me, 'You know, the problem is not with what you say; it's how you say it.' And I have to take that on board. [Laughs] I think, 'What do they mean?' It's the tone of voice and the right time and all of that.
"Maybe I could [play with PRIEST again], if they said, 'Would you mind doing this?' Not just saying, 'Can you do that?' Or, 'That needs doing.' But [if they say], 'Do you think you can do this for me, please?' There's a massive difference. Especially with the ladies, timing is critical. Sometimes you can say it like that; other times… That's what confuses us as men. I'm diversifying now a little bit. I say something one day, and it's okay. And I say it exactly the same way the next day and all hell breaks loose."
Circling back to the subject of him possibly returning to PRIEST, Downing noted that "the ball is not exactly in my court." However, he didn't rule out rejoining forces with his former bandmates for a special appearance. "For example, getting inducted into the [Rock And Roll] Hall Of Fame," he said. "You don't get those things happening more than once in a lifetime. Probably if you lived 10 lifetimes, it would maybe only happen once. So some things you probably couldn't say no to. Having said what I said, whichever way it was [presented to me], just to be a part of that."
K.K. 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.
Last summer, JUDAS PRIEST bassist Ian Hill dismissed the possibility of Downing returning to the band, explaining that "Ken's place in the band has already been taken. It's also two albums down the road since 'Nostradamus', which is the last one he played on, and is he gonna be prepared to play music from the new album, which he probably would not," he said. "And on top of that, he's gonna have to learn Glenn's parts too. So it's all reasons why we didn't [ask him to return]. Apart from that, he's been retired for nearly eight years. He hasn't since set foot on stage as far as I know, so he's hardly at the peak of his game at the moment."
Last year, Downing sold his share of the royalty rights to 136 of JUDAS PRIEST's tracks, including classic songs "Breaking The Law", "Living After Midnight" and "Painkiller", to Round Hill Music. The deal was made following the collapse of his luxury golf course venture.
K.K.'s autobiography, "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest", was released in September via Da Capo Press.