Former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing says he almost didn’t perform at the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year
Speaking with Chaoszine in a new interview, founding JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing was asked about his experience reuniting with former band at last year’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony. He responded: “Well, I was kind of debating whether to go, whether to go there and do it or not because of all the circumstances. Plus, it was a long way to go. [Laughs]”
Touching on former JUDAS PRIEST drummer Les Binks, who also performed at the ceremony: “[PRIEST‘s] manager told us that we were guests of the band — me and Les. I’m going, ‘Fuck off.’ If anything, I’m a guest of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, but I’m there to accept my own award in my own right. I’m not a guest of anybody. And then they were gonna dictate the songs and what was gonna [be] play[ed]. So I said, ‘Oh, fuck. Should I bother doing this?’ You know what I mean? ‘Can I be really bothered?’
“And then people were saying, ‘You’ve gotta go. It’ll never happen again, obviously, in your lifetime. You deserve this.’ And anyway, so I decided, ‘Okay, I’ll go.’ But, obviously, we were kept separated and not allowed to walk the red carpet together, which is all very sad, but that’s the way that they wanted it.”
“Even right up until the performance, I wasn’t sure,” Downing admitted. “I kept saying to myself, ‘Am I doing the right thing here? Is this really heavy metal? I’m with a bunch of guys that fucking hate me.’ I’m looking at Ed Sheeran. I’m looking at Dolly Parton. I’m thinking, ‘Fuck it. Am I in the right place? Is it all a dream?’ [Laughs] I’m thinking, ‘Oh, what the hell? Just grab the guitar and do it and get to the pub.’ And that’s what I did. I came off stage, put my clothes on, went straight back to the hotel bar and I had some beers and it was great.”
K.K. also revealed that he did have a brief exchange with JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford at the event. “Rob came over to me, and I [initially] didn’t wanna speak to him, because he left the band for 14 years and I was instrumental in reinstating him back in the band, having him back in,” Downing said. “And then he tells me that I can’t rejoin the band. How does that work? I don’t know how that works.”
According to K.K., “it’s [PRIEST guitarist] Glenn [Tipton] and [PRIEST‘s longtime manager] Jayne [Andrews] who make all the decisions [for the band], and, I hate to say it, but Rob is just… I really think that… The only reason I spoke to Rob [at the Rock Hall] is because I think he’s being controlled. That’s the only reason. I don’t believe that Rob voted not to have me [back] in [PRIEST]. I think he was forced to. I think Rob would have voted me in. But it was their choice. And now Richie‘s off doing his own thing with [his side project] ELEGANT WEAPONS and everything. So it’s not looking great for him, really, is it?”
When Downing was asked if he has listened to the debut ELEGANT WEAPONS album, which came out back in May, he said: “Yes. It’s good, but it’s not my style of metal. It’s not my thing. But he said he [wanted to do] something different [with his side project], to be different to JUDAS PRIEST; he didn’t wanna be like them. Well, I guess, I do wanna be like… that is my type of metal. You know — I like JUDAS PRIEST, SCORPIONS, UFO, SAXON. I’m the old-school boy. I love all of that shit.”
JUDAS PRIEST received the Musical Excellence Award at the 2022 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, which inducted Eminem, Dolly Parton, DURAN DURAN, Lionel Richie, Pat Benatar, EURYTHMICS and Carly Simon in the Performers category.
The members of JUDAS PRIEST to be inducted were current members Halford, Ian Hill (bass),Tipton and Scott Travis (drums) as well as former members Downing, Binks and late drummer Dave Holland.