Former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing believes that all of the band's living former and current members should be involved in the group's upcoming 50th-anniversary celebration.
Downing, who announced his retirement from PRIEST in April 2011 after nearly 42 years on the job, was asked by Eddie Trunk in a new SiriusXM interview where he would like to see the band go as it enters its sixth decade of existence.
"When I was in PRIEST, I was dedicated to JUDAS PRIEST — I never set my stall out with anything else other than JUDAS PRIEST, and that was it," he said. "I never considered doing solo albums or having my own web site or selling my own merchandise and all of that sort of that stuff. I know Rob [Halford, vocals] and Glenn [Tipton, guitar] went into that territory. But I was just totally dedicated to PRIEST. And even though I have plenty of opportunities, it's kind of late in the day for me to want to start over again — not just for fun or for anything.
"I am a partner in JUDAS PRIEST" — referring to the the company Judas Priest Music Limited, in which he has still has an equal share alongside Halford, Tipton and Ian Hill — "and I think I should be given a voice as to what should happen, because I'm always kind of considering what the fans really want first and foremost," he continued. "I know people are gonna say, 'Oh, yeah, but you quit the band.' But, guys, I felt as though I was a broken man at that point.
"I can't even put it into words — other than say that I didn't realize that everybody… I thought I was a very, very strong, strong, solid person, but everybody has a breaking point, and I know that. And that's what happened to me. So I'm out, and graciously, I've let the guys do exactly what they've wanted to do, when they've wanted to do [it], who they've wanted to do it with.
"You asked me earlier on what would I like to see happen. I would like to see those guys talk to me, and collectively, everybody involved — Richie [Faulkner, Downing's replacement], Scott [Travis, drums], Andy [Sneap, Tipton's touring replacement]; everybody — say what really is the way forward. The band is on tour now, and I'm sure the show is great and everything, and if that's what they wanna do forevermore, well, fine — I'll respect that decision as well. But Rob's talking about doing some kind of 50th anniversary, and I don't know. But the big consideration, without Glenn there as well, it's difficult for me even to accept — even [with] all [that has been] said and done — for me to accept a PRIEST that isn't the PRIEST that I've been a part of all my life; that's tough for me too. But maybe I could suggest that… Rob wants to do a 50th-anniversary [celebration], but that goes back to 1969. I was in the band, Ian was in the band then, but Rob and Glenn came on in the '70s. But certainly… I don't know. Would it be an idea for everybody that ever played a part in JUDAS PRIEST to go out there and tour and be a part of that tour? That was something that I would think that probably nobody else ever would think of — to include Ripper [former singer Tim Owens], [former drummer] Les Binks and certainly Glenn. That would be a part of it as well, for whatever he can do. And maybe it's just an idea… food for thought. Who knows? I don't know. I know the guys have got plenty of shows booked, so I don't know what Rob's thinking of. Maybe he'll be concentrating on doing his book that he talks about next. Who knows?"
Halford revealed in August that JUDAS PRIEST was planning to mark the band's 50th anniversary in 2019 with a special celebration. "We're already having these discussions every now and again in the band and with our label and with our promoters and management," he said. "It's gonna be a great year. Another incredible milestone for JUDAS PRIEST that we're looking forward to sharing with everybody."
Earlier this year, Downing — who is a founding member of the British heavy metal legends — released a statement in which he said that he was "shocked and stunned" that he wasn't invited to return to JUDAS PRIEST following Tipton's announcement that he would no longer be touring with the band due to his battle with Parkinson's disease.
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.