Juliette Miranda of “The Unwritable Rant” podcast recently conducted an interview with former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Ken “K.K.” Downing.
On why he decided to open his upcoming autobiography, “Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest”, with him walking into the courtroom for JUDAS PRIEST’s 1990 subliminal-message trial in Reno, Nevada:
Downing: “Well, it wasn’t exactly me. We discussed it. I think the fact that it was such an important thing to happen in my life, my career, our career, and it was a thing that could have been life-changing, really, for us. It was a tough thing to go through, and we really felt that we were really quite hard done to — we didn’t really think there was any validity at all in the claim, and there wasn’t. But it was still quite a very emotional and stressful thing to go through, and, luckily, everything came out fine in the end, really.”
On whether there was any one decision that perhaps could have made the difference in terms of pushing JUDAS PRIEST over the edge in terms of commercial success:
Downing: “Probably not one thing in particular, really. I think it’s probably over such a long period of time. If you make one decision that’s not that good every month, then it kind of all accumulates. JUDAS PRIEST, as I probably did menton in the book, we could have gone further. Lots of people will see us as as big a band as probably any other band you can mention, but, really, from record sales and financially, we would probably be nowhere near an awful lot of the bands. So something happened along the way, I think — I’m not pointing a finger anywhere or at anyone in particular, but just an accumulation of things, I think, along the way. But certain things happened. Obviously, Rob [Halford, vocals] left the band for 14 years; that didn’t really help — it didn’t really help, I have to say.”
On what he hopes people are going to take away from reading his book:
Downing: “Well, I think the thing is, since I quit the band back in 2011, it hasn’t been great for me. The bandmembers have done certain things and said certain things, and I think that’s not really fair play. What have I done to deserve that? It’s a little bit unfair, really. When Ian [Hill, bass], for example, said soon after I left — he actually said, and it was all over the press — that ‘none of the fans are missing K.K.,’ I thought, ‘Ian, that’s just unfair. Why say that?’ We went to infant school together, junior school, secondary school together. I thought that was extremely unfair. If he had said, ‘Not all of the fans are missing K.K.,’ okay, fine, but, obviously, I was reading different things in the press than Ian was; lots of people did actually say, ‘No K.K., no PRIEST.’ We all had fans. And more recently, when some of the fans say, ‘Why didn’t K.K. ask to rejoin [PRIEST following Glenn Tipton’s decision to retire from the road due to his battle with Parkinson’s disease]?’ Well, the thing is I never had a choice, I never had a chance, because someone else was appointed to take Glenn’s place straight away, before I even knew about it. So I read a lot of things on the Internet from all of the fans. And I think I’d love to tell them how it really is. It was the hardest thing, it was gut-wrenching for me to have to leave my creation and my life’s work in JUDAS PRIEST, but I was just pushed over the edge, really. The thing that did it, and I think I point it out [in the book], was [being asked] to do an EP after the epic ‘Nostradamus’. JUDAS PRIEST is not an EP band. We could do an EP and then go out on tour and something tragic could have happened, and maybe I would be finding myself ending my career on a five-track EP, and I didn’t wanna do that. Fortunately, the guys realized that it was a bit of a stinker of an idea and went ahead and did an album, and I’m glad that they did, because I think that that was the best thing to do.”