Guitarist K.K. Downing recently spoke to “The Ex-Man” podcast, where he talked about his exit from Judas Priest, saying:
“I kind of skirted through that period in my book, really; I didn’t really go into that much detail. No, I didn’t retire — absolutely didn’t.
“In 2010, things were coming to a boil; things were happening. I wasn’t happy with the previous tour because… I love Glenn [Tipton, Judas Priest guitarist] and I respect him a lot, but he used to have too many beers before and during the concerts at the time. And I don’t know what was going on. We had words about it. But musically, we weren’t as footsure as I felt I wanted to be. I wasn’t really happy with that. It was rock and roll. It’s one of those things — it’s rock and roll, or you’re a band that really wants to lock it in tight. And that’s what I used to get off on musically — was being really solid and locked in with those kick drums. You’re either Keith Richards, and he’s got a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other but you’re still playing the guitar, or you’re really digging deep.
“It’s a long-winded thing, but Rob [Halford, vocals] was doing a lot of things with his own band — touring, doing the Ozzfest. He released two studio albums the year I left — in that year, 2010. And then I was getting pressured to do an EP, and I’m going, ‘We’re not an EP band.’ And it was the farewell tour. We were all retiring. That was the deal. I saw the press release, saying it was the end of the band and all of this. And I don’t know. Maybe I just had some kind of breakdown, and I went, ‘You know what? Have it. You want it? It’s yours. Have it.’
“But what actually happened was a friend of mine was really encouraging me to do the [final] tour, and he was saying the right things, I guess: ‘You’ve been there this long. It’s just one more tour. You’ve gotta complete the journey.’ And so I started to talk to Ian [Hill, JD bassist] over a period of about a week, saying, ‘Ian, I think maybe I’ll do it.’ I’d ordered some guitar processors from Germany to do the tour; I was gonna do it. And I was talking to Ian about doing it. And I fully expected to get a message from the management saying, ‘Are you gonna do it? Is it true you wanna do it?’
”But I never heard anything. And I didn’t get the right feedback from Ian. My friend was giving me all this encouragement, but I wasn’t getting the same sort of thing back from Ian. ‘Cause me and Ian went to kindergarten together. We’ve been there every minute of this journey. But he wasn’t saying the things that my friend was saying. But he would have been relaying things back to camp, back to base, but they weren’t coming through. They sent a press release they were gonna release, saying, ‘We’re gonna release this tomorrow. Are you okay with the wording?’ And I said to Ian, ‘Can you e-mail me the setlist over? Let me see the setlist.’ Which he did. And I phoned him back, saying, ‘Ian, it looks great. I thought it would be all Glenn‘s choices. And [I said], ‘It looks great.’ But the next morning, they sent a press release saying I retired.
”So I sent in my second [resignation] letter [to Priest and the management] saying that — this is the truth — ‘forget everything I said in my previous letter.’ ‘Cause I was trying to bail out amicably. And also knowing that those guys would have the purse strings. And I was a director of the company [that handles Priest‘s business affairs], and everything, and I knew I was gonna speak to ’em. But in the second letter, I just flipped and I told the truth why I really quit three months earlier. But they still told the fans and the world that I retired to look after my golf course. No, I didn’t. I had professional managers. It had been open six years. It wasn’t true. And I hated it, because I’ve had to carry this burden now with the fans thinking, ‘K.K.‘s an a-hole, because he deserted us. He did this to look after his golf course or retire.’ Not true.”