In a recent interview with Germany's Rock Hard magazine, JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing addressed former IRON MAIDEN singer Paul Di'Anno's claim in his autobiography that he was the main reason for the old feelings of rivalry that existed between MAIDEN and PRIEST during the early '80s.
"Paul apologized personally to me — what a great gesture," Downing said. "But he wasn't the main reason for the rivalry. At the time of 'British Steel', PRIEST was the bigger band and MAIDEN was the supporting act. They were saying that they [would] blow us off the stage without any problem — well, I thought their behavior wasn't very nice. I'd have loved to send them home to take another band with us, [one] who would have appreciated the chance. But we were told not to do it as it would have looked like we were frightened by them. So we kept on going...but they were very arrogant. And I remember the main rehearsal before the tour when there were a few guys hanging around in the room who didn't say a word and watched everything we did — every step we made and every move of the stage lights. I wasn't very pleased and asked the guitar tech to tell the guys to leave the place. Don't get me wrong: I'm not too good not to play in front of the supporting band — but they could have asked, at least, if it was OK to attend the rehearsal. We went on tour and they didn't blow us off the stage, of course. Hahahah. I watched quite a lot of the MAIDEN shows, but the reaction of the audience wasn't very explosive — because the fans were waiting for us. OK, MAIDEN became one of the biggest bands of the metal scene — and I'm proud of them. We made a big mistake by focusing more on the U.S. than on Europe after releasing 'British Steel'. [I mean], we lost a lot of attention at home. In the U.S., we were quite big — and MAIDEN asked us for a support slot on our U.S. tour. We said yes — and the same old story happened again. It had a lot to do with rivalry and jealousy."
When asked what he would say to MAIDEN mainman Steve Harris if they bumped into each other, K.K. said, "I'd buy him a beer — because it's an old story. Like I already said, I'm proud of what MAIDEN achieved and of what they did for the British metal. It might sound stupid — but it's true."