Explorer1 Music Group (E1) has announce a global partnership with legendary guitarist K.K. Downing, founding member of Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum selling metal icons JUDAS PRIEST, with veteran rock manager Andy Gould joining E1 as principal manager for Downing.
After what was meant to be a one-off live performance in November, K.K. Downing has been in the studio, working on the next chapter of his career. After receiving offers from multiple labels and management companies, Downing met with Paul Woolnough, CEO of Explorer1 Music Group and the creator of its innovative business model, and they agreed to partner and work together in all aspects of K.K.'s career.
"I am very much looking forward to my partnership and future with Explorer 1," said K.K. Downing. "The reason I chose Explorer1 to manage my future over many other bona fide companies is their extensive roster of so many familiar and qualified experts and veterans of the industry that is surely incomparable. Also, their exciting and innovative business model is something that I truly believe will become the future industry standard, making Explorer1 leaders not followers in the music and entertainment industry."
Joining Explorer1 Music Group is management veteran Andy Gould who will take on the role as principal manager for K.K. Downing. Gould had successfully managed Rob Zombie during his solo career as well as his days in WHITE ZOMBIE with a track record that includes sales exceeding fifteen million worldwide and seven Grammy nominations with Zombie, including securing deals for Zombie to become one of only a handful of people to have unprecedented success for six feature films as the writer and director. Gould has also co-managed such acts as LINKIN PARK (with Rob McDermott), PANTERA (with Walter O'Brien) and GUNS N' ROSES (with Irving Azoff).
"Having been in the hard rock and metal music management business for over four decades, I jumped at the chance to join the Explorer1 team and its innovative artist partnership model," says Gould. "I have been a huge admirer of K.K. Downing's work throughout his career, from listening to those early groundbreaking albums to watching him every night when JUDAS PRIEST had PANTERA open for them," Gould continues, "and with this new partnership I look forward to representing the next chapter in the K.K. Downing legacy."
"After first seeing JUDAS PRIEST at Birmingham Odeon as a teenage fan, I was always inspired by their innovative style, stage shows, and larger-than-life personas," said Paul Woolnough, Explorer1 Music Group's CEO. "When we met, I was impressed with his drive and vision to create this new chapter in his already incredible career, and I am so proud he chose Explorer1 to be his partner in what will be an amazing journey into the past and future of one of rock music's true icons."
Downing left PRIEST in 2011 amid claims of band conflict, shoddy management and declining quality of performance. He was replaced by Richie Faulkner, nearly three decades his junior.
Downing recently said that he reached out to JUDAS PRIEST about taking part in the band's upcoming 50th-anniversary tour but that their response was that they were not interested in including him in the celebrations.
In 2018, Downing revealed that he sent two resignation letters to his bandmates 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 after Glenn Tipton's decision to retire from touring.
Photo credit: George Chin