K.K. Downing was going to resign from Judas Priest in 1992 but Rob Halford beat him to it
Former Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing was recently interviewed by Eon Music and spoke about some of the contents in his autobiography Heavy Duty – Days and Nights in Judas Priest released last year.
It was pointed out that one of the more stunning revelations in the book is that Downing was readying his resignation letter at the completion of the ‘Painkiller’ tour in 1992, and then Rob Halford beat him to it. Downing replied: “It was not a good time for me. I wasn’t content with internal things in the band. It’s one of those things; you get into a relationship, and the little things are just ginormous, and they just grow and grow as time goes on. And I guess that little idiosyncrasies and things that you’re unhappy with, and you can see that people know that you’re unhappy, but they keep doing it. It winds you up, and you just start to feel like somebody’s taking the piss, and it gets hard to keep swallowing it, you know? If things happen during a live performance, some people smash the singer or the guitar player over the head with their guitar or something – things happen, people walk off, but that was never going to happen for me; I was never going to destroy a show, but like I say, you can’t do anything about it, and you feel so helpless. Backstage in the dressing room, you can do something about it if somebody pisses you off, but during the live performance you can’t, but it got to be really unmanageable, really.”
In terms of why he decided to stick around, Downing advised: “I did compose my leaving letter, but I sat on it, and I actually sat on it at the end of that tour for a couple of months, I’m guessing, something like that. I thought; “I’ll just sit on it, and see how I feel when the dust settles”, and not make any rash moves. And then Rob handed his notice in, and I thought; “Well, that’s probably it then”, really. Glenn had already got in the pipeline he wanted to do a solo album, and I think Rob probably found out about that and thought; “I’m going to do it first”. So that’s what Rob did, and then Glenn took forever doing his stuff, and it was difficult to find somebody to replace Rob, and we never achieved it in the end anyway, as brilliant as Ripper [new singer, Tim Owens] was. You can’t replace the voice in the band. Even now, there’s even girls that could play mine and Glenn’s parts, and do a damn good job. It’s easy to use the wheel, but it’s not so easy to invent it, and at least they can use our sound; but the texture, and the delivery of a voice, you can’t do it. One band; one voice; it’s Freddy [for] Queen; Mick Jagger [for] the Stones; Bruce Dickinson [for] Iron Maiden; and the list goes on, really.”
You can read the rest of the interview with K.K. Downing at Eon Music.