Former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Ken "K.K." Downing has spoken out in more details about the two resignation letters he sent to his bandmates more than seven years ago when he decided to quit the legendary heavy metal group. The first was previously 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 has said that he believes 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.
K.K., who is promoting his newly released autobiography, "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest", told Rock N Roll Archaeology that he initially wanted to "keep the peace" and "not burn any bridges" with his former bandmates, especially since he realized that he would be in a business relationship with them for the rest of his life.
Downing explained (hear audio below): "Originally, my thoughts were, 'Something strange is happening to me. And I don't like how it feels.' But I could feel that I was either gonna pick up the phone or I was gonna do something rash. So I sat down, put pen to paper and I actually wrote a gracious [resignation letter]… And I did use the word 'retirement,' and I said that I was retiring from the business. And I wanted to keep the peace and not burn any bridges. I wanted to do all of that, and I did that. I was consistent with my personality — I did that. I thought that, obviously, I'm a part, I'm still a director of the company, I'm still involved. I thought, 'I'm gonna have to speak to these people and deal with 'em,' so I thought, 'This is the way to do it. I will be out. If somebody wants it, they can have it. Fine. It's yours. I'm going.' So I did that. But as soon as it was announced to the press that I was out, a spark was lit and I just went over the edge and I sent in a second letter saying, 'Please ignore my original leaving letter.' And I sent in a second letter, and it was a bit more to the point, shall we say? [Laughs] It was the 'F.O.' [Fuck Off] letter. [Laughs] And that was it. That was me quitting. I went against every grain of my normal personality, and I thought, 'That's it.'"
According to Downing, his second resignation letter explains why his relationship with his former bandmates "has gone the way that it has with what's been said in the press, which makes me extremely unhappy. To hear people like Ian [Hill, bass], who never did interviews before, saying things like, 'None of the fans are missing K.K.' and stuff like that," he said. "And it was just cruel and unfair. But I did mention that I'd been broken. And it was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life — hang up the guitar from JUDAS PRIEST — and I'm sure everybody can appreciate that. But I got pushed over the edge. Whether I regretted it or not, there was no way back, and I had to just suffer that."
K.K. went on to say that he was actually contemplating taking part in PRIEST's 2011-2012 "Epitaph" tour even after initially backing out of it. "I was considering doing that tour — I was talking to Ian about it, having a change of mind and doing it — and then suddenly it was released and it was all too late and it was over and done," he said.
K.K., who is a founding member of the British heavy metal legends and was part of the group since 1969, 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.
"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.