After more than 4 decades of rocking, Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing has announced his retirement from the band in advance of their upcoming "Epitaph" world tour.
The band posted an official statement on their website on Wednesday, marking the end of Downing's time with Judas Priest. He was a founding member of the Birmingham, UK-based band that started way back in 1969.
The statement partially reads: "It is with regret that Judas Priest announce that K.K. Downing has formally retired from the band and will therefore not be joining them on their forthcoming tour. The band respect his decision and naturally wish him well."
The band has decided to continue on with their touring plans, adding 31-year-old guitarist Richie Faulkner to their lineup in place of Downing. The band's statement says that Faulkner "has blended into the band perfectly and is a great talent who is going to set the stage on fire". The relatively young guitar player has previously played with several acts including Dirty Deeds, Voodoo Six and Lauren Harris, but has not achieved mainstream recognition until now.
Judas Priest's "Epitaph" tour will bring the band to venues across Europe this summer before coming to South America and Mexico in the fall. So far there have been no U.S. dates announced, but America's metal faithful remain hopeful that Priest will grace the States with their presence.