VIDEO: KK Downing talks about quitting Judas Priest

KK Downing: murder with an axe...and a 9-iron!
KK Downing: murder with an axe...and a 9-iron! (Image credit: Larry Marano /Retna Ltd./Corbis)

Judas Priest are currently crisscrossing the globe on their "farewell" Epitaph tour (they're saying goodbye to long live treks, but will continue to record and play some dates), but one long-standing member, guitarist KK Downing, said "See ya later" - the the band, at least - last year.

It came as a bit of a surprise when Downing split, as he and co-guitarist Glenn Tipton virtually created the visual for the terms "twin-axe attack" or "dual lead guitars."

In a new interview with Valley Radio Online, Downing, a major-league golf enthusiast - his estate overlooks an 18-hole course which he personally designed - discusses his decision to leave the metal gods. "After doing it for so long, and I've spent so many hours writing songs, recording, touring… it came down to an unsettlement on my part," he says. "I wasn't happy with the way things were.

"I wish things could have been different so I could have could have continued with a passion," he continues. "But I thought, if this is the way it's going to be, then perhaps it's time to step down."

If there are wounds that cut deep, Downing isn't letting on - and apparently he doesn't intend to in a tell-all tome, as he says, "We had a lot of great years. It was a massive consideration, the fans… I just hope that they would consider that I couldn't continue for reasons that I will never, ever disclose."

"'Never, ever disclose'"? Hmm...what's that all about?

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.