K.K. Downing says that he feels "aggrieved" at the way he has been treated by JUDAS PRIEST since his exit from the band nearly a decade ago.
The guitarist, who announced his retirement from PRIEST in April 2011 after nearly 42 years in the job, was replaced by Richie Faulkner, nearly three decades his junior.
Downing spoke about his relationship with his former bandmates during a brand new interview with "Rock Of Nations With Dave Kinchen".
Addressing the fact that some of his comments in the media have created the perception among PRIEST fans that he is complaining incessantly about his ex-colleagues, Downing said (hear audio below): "Everyone can make mistakes. We're not always exactly right. But I can only say what my understanding is at the time that I'm actually conducting an interview and what I actually believe. And that's the information I want to get over from me to the world. Because I'm really proud and I really treasure everything that I've done in my life and everything that I've built up and my relationship with the fans in the world. And I wouldn't want to destroy that — I'd be stupid, and it would be hurtful, if I thought that I'd done that.
"I'm a fan of Blabbermouth. We get an awful lot of information that we would never, ever, ever get," he continued. "So I'm grateful to those guys, but, obviously, their kind of technique or the way that they do things to grab attention sometimes puts the fans on the wrong footing to start with whereby some of the fans don't actually read the interview and the context that something was said in.
"Even I have taken umbrage to some of the things that the band said in the early days that were hurtful. After I left the band, I was reading things like, 'None of the fans are missing K.K.' [and] 'Richie has brought a new energy to the band.' That's a slap at me, really, as though I was kind of slacking, if you wanna read it that way. And so even I took umbrage in the beginning, but now you have to go back and read the interviews in the way that it was said and decide then whether you wanna forgive that person for saying what they did. Ian [Hill, bass] actually said, 'None of the fans are missing K.K.' Well, Ian, you could have said, 'Not all of the fans are missing K.K.'"
K.K., who has spent the last few months promoting his autobiography, "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest", also once again said the other members of PRIEST have tried to remove him from his ongoing position as a co-director of the PRIEST organization, a role he's unwilling to relinquish.
"I'd been in the band for 40 years, and therefore… I felt if I wanted to retire or leave, for whatever reasons, and it's the same now — whether it's due to illness, unfortunately, or whether it's a grievance with someone, or whatever it is, or whether it's just old age… The thing is, the original members, we'll all be in that situation at some point where we're actually not a performing member in JUDAS PRIEST, for whatever reason, and that will happen," he said. "But you'd have to say, in all fairness, being the founding members, the four of us, pretty much from day one, that built the business, the company up, the band and did all of that, like any other business or company, those bandmembers should have a controlling right over the company to ensure that they get what they deserve, really, for all they invested — a lifetime's investment. I think that's a fair comment. But also to keep a control of how other people may be portraying the image and the name and the legacy of JUDAS PRIEST in the years to come."
He continued: "Ever since I left the band, the remaining founding members have been trying to oust me completely. And I understand if that's the case and Richie does have a fair and solid and complete position in the band. Well, fine — I can accept that. But then I also, at the same time, I need to hold him also responsible for not giving me the opportunity to potentially rejoin the band or at least being made aware that there was a vacant position.
"If anyone — anyone — band or management, could just inform me and keep me informed and let me know what's happening with the company that I'm a part of and the company that I spent my lifetime working and building on," he added. "Because we're all men of a certain age and we wanna provide for our loved ones and our families. It's not all about the dollar, but the dollar is important, as well as all the hard work and the music and everything. We want to build our own individual legacy and success and to be able to pass that on, like I said, when we know we're not gonna be around anymore. Is it an old-fashioned thing? I can remember my grandmother and my grandfather saving up in a tin under the bed for when they passed away. They wanted to leave their kids and grandkids something. Call it an old-fashioned thing, but that's what needs to happen. It's the world we live in. We all have to take care of whatever money we earn these days."
Downing also admitted that he took offense at the fact that his name wasn't mentioned when JUDAS PRIEST was inducted into the Hall Of Heavy Metal History in August 2018 at the Wacken Open Air festival in Wacken, Germany.
"People have to understand — I see these things," he said. "After a lifetime of work, and then Richie accepts my award, really. But nobody there, and Rob [Halford, vocals] made a speech and none of the guys made reference to me whatsoever. And this is a lifetime achievement award. And so things like that don't sit well with me. And I don't think they would sit well with anyone else either in my position, to be fair."
During the same chat, Downing elaborated on his recent comments about Richie's position in JUDAS PRIEST. Earlier in the month, BLABBERMOUTH.NET published an interview Downing gave to Germany's Bleeding4metal.de in which K.K. said that it "seems wrong" that Faulkner and drummer Scott Travis "are not officially members of JUDAS PRIEST as they are on a wage." A couple of days later, Faulkner released a statement disputing Downing's comments, insisting that he hasn't been a salaried employee for the past seven years and slamming his predecessor's remarks as "an attempt to devalue my and Scott's position in the band."
Downing told "Rock Of Nations With Dave Kinchen": "I'm a great believer in democracy... It's just like I suppose if you've got a law firm or an accountant, or whatever firm, they don't take partners on until much, much, much further down the line. The guys have to earn their dues to become that. It's the same in bands. I'm sure Gene [Simmons] and Paul [Stanley] from KISS — it's essentially their band, and it's the same sort of setup there. I don't know all the details, so forgive me, but that's my take on it. Lots of bands work like that.
"The last thing I want to do is for the continuation of this mess," he said. "But, unfortunately, I do feel aggrieved and I feel pretty hard done to with what's going on. It's great for Richie to say, 'It would be great to hear some music from K.K.,' but hang on, in all fairness, after my last comment, which was my understanding that Richie, Scott and — 'cause I think Blabbermouth misquoted me, because I included Andy [Sneap, current touring guitarist] as well; essentially the three guys… The point I was trying to make is that the guys that I consider to be the partnership, the controlling partnership, the controlling company, with Rob and Ian and Glenn [Tipton, guitar], those are the guys that are and that I consider and know are full and complete members of the band."
[For the record, BLABBERMOUTH.NET's coverage of the Bleeding4metal.de interview included the full quote from Downing in reference to the membership status of Faulkner, Travis and Sneap. K.K. was quoted as saying: "It seems wrong that Scott, Richie and Andy are not officially members of JUDAS PRIEST as they are on a wage."]
Last 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 last September via Da Capo Press.