“I was expecting to be back in the band when there was an opening, or at least to be asked”: KK Downing won’t ever rejoin Judas Priest

He’s firmly focused on KK’s Priest now, in which he’s reunited with former Judas Priest vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens.

KK Downing playing the guitar on stage

Image: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In a new interview, former Judas Priest guitarist KK Downing has said that he won’t be playing with his old band again.

Speaking to Metal Hammer, Downing – who left in 2011 – says, “Before I started [new band] KK’s Priest, I asked if they’d consider me stepping back into my rightful place, because at one point they announced they were going out as a four-piece. I was expecting to be back in the band when there was an opening, or at least to be asked.”

“But Glenn [Tipton, guitarist] and Ian [Hill, bassist] wrote through their lawyers saying a flat no, which made no sense, as I was there first. And Rob [Halford] left for 11 years so how does he have the right to say ‘I won’t consider you re-joining’ – I was instrumental in reinstating him into the band! Glenn wasn’t interested in having Rob back, he wanted to keep Ripper. But I gave them one last chance, and I was like, ‘Are you sure? One day you might live to regret it.’ Let’s hope they don’t.”

Instead, he’s busy working with KK’s Priest, in which he’s reunited with vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens, who he worked with in Judas Priest from 1996 to 2003.

When asked what he can do in his new band that he couldn’t in Judas Priest, he jokes that he can “call the shots”, but admits he doesn’t want to do anything too different to what he’s done before.

“We got the Judas Priest brand up to a place where it can never be overthrown – it’s etched in stone,” he continues. “So yeah, I’ve got a mountain to climb, but as long as I enjoy it, and the music and performances are strong, there’s no reason why the two bands can’t coexist happily, like an old married couple!”

Downing also shares an interesting story from a signing he did with Judas Priest in the interview, revealing that a parent asked them to sign their two newborn babies.

“We’re all sat there, people are lining up with stuff to sign, and there’s these two newborns!,” he says. “The parent of the babies was happy for us to actually sign them, of course we had to back off at that point, that’s potentially a lawsuit! So we signed the babies’ clothes instead. Other than that, there’s a lot of body parts we won’t get into…”


The destination for all things guitar.

© 2023 Guitar.com is part of NME Networks.