Judas Priest Guitarist Retires

After more than 4 decades of rocking, Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing has announced his retirement from the band.

Ultimate Guitar

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.

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104 comments sorted by best / new / date

    the mans old, he deserves to live out the rest of his days how he wishes to, and not with the constant pressure of touring. He will be missed, however, sometimes people have to say f*** you to the fans, its time for me to do something for myself. and this is one of those times. I wish him well
    destroyed.. Not happy at all. Tipton without Downing? That's going to be odd to watch.... Hoping it's nothing medical and he has just had enough of touring/playing or whatever... Seems an odd time to go though, just before a final world tour kicks off... anyway, I wish KK all the best for the future and, even though he'll never see this, I would like to thank him for all the musical enjoyment he's given me over the years.
    shikkaka wrote: everyone who said NOOOOO used 5 O's. weird.
    Omg I was just about to write that.
    Phoenix Reborn
    Downing...man you have lived the life. Over 40 years of Rocking All Around the World playing your guitar Hard As Iron . The Hellion will always be one of my favorite guitar instrumentals and while it grieves me to see such a great guitarist retire I'm glad that you were able to give us your music and hope you have fun in retirement.
    Very sad, yet somehow... I'm sure Mr. Downing is relieved and happier than ever. God bless him and I hope he has a wonderful retirement. He deserves rest.
    Wow! nothing left in the tank. That's too bad they already planned this tour. What an amazing carrer this band had. I was lucky enough to see The Screaming For Vengence, Turbo, and Defenders of the Faith tours. showing me age here....heheeeheehe
    As fans, on a farewell tour, we deserve to see the whole band. We should petition to get him back just for the tour! Christ... I might cry.
    Downing and Tipton are just like Tyler and Perry. Or Van Halen and Van Halen. Or Vinnie and Dime. Or Hetfield and Ulrich. Or Jagger and Richards. I just don't see it being that great... I'm sure the guy replacing him is good... but after 4 decades? Meh. It's gonna suck over the next decade when all the greats start retiring for good... Damn my parents for conceiving me 20 years too late. If Only I could've been born in the 70's instead of 1990...
    Burnt Ice
    shikkaka wrote: everyone who said NOOOOO used 5 O's. weird.
    They're paying homage to the fact that the band should retain themselves as a complete 5-Piece. Now it's essentially a 4 Piece.
    Thanks for everything KK. If Priest come anywhere NEAR Atlantic Canada, I'll be front row going nuts pretending KK is with us at the show
    Wow, I don't think I am going to go to the Epitaph tour now....I saw Halford live last summer, and he played Heart of a Lion and Never Satisifed...I think that will be enough for me.
    I find it odd that I was able to picture Priest without Tipton but not without Downing. Farewell Metal God, may you rock on in our hearts, minds and musical devices.
    CrawlingHorror wrote: One thing I have never been able to understand about some high profile guys is why they continue working into their 70's when they had enough money to have retired a couple of decades ago. I mean, come on, retire and enjoy life! I have also thought that there should be a law that rock groups get 15 years and then that's it, break up and see you later since almost all bands have run out of creative gas by then. It is just sad to watch them flail (like the Rolling Stones, for example, who haven't done a decent record since Tattoo You) when they insist on continuing even though they are effectively spent. Priest has been an exception to that, but I can understand that even if you do a job you enjoy sometimes things change and then you reach a point at which you just aren't digging it anymore and need to bail. K.K. is a nice guy and my favorite member of the band and I hope that the remainder of his life will rock just as much as it did with Priest. Now if only Metallica, the Scorpions, Aerosmith, Kiss, The Who and Iron Maiden would take the hint and recognize that their best days were behind them a long while ago, too, and call it a day.
    Someone's forgotten it took Judas Priest 16 years to come out with painkiller. And as far as I'm concerned you can't be a true metal fan and dislike that album.
    I don't even think I could see this tour now. I started liking Glenn, but then started IDOLISING K.K. He was what gave Judas Priest most of it's onstage charisma. It won't be a show without him.
    I can't believe my idols for dual guitar riffage are no longer together. The Priest just isn't the Priest without K.K. and Tipton together. A 40 year run with an even longer legacy to unfold. Thanks for all the memories K.K. It's just gonna be incredibly akward without him on stage..
    it appears there may have been some conflicts within the band. I copied this from KK's web site: It is with much regret that I will not be with you this summer. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your concerns about my health. Please rest assured that I am O.K. There has been an ongoing breakdown in working relationship between myself, elements of the band, and the band's management for some time. Therefore I have decided to step down rather than to tour with negative sentiments as I feel that this would be a deception to you, our cherished fans.
    not happy with this at all. man could have hung in for one last tour.
    Das_Skittles wrote: Good thing I saw Priest on the Metal Masters tour in '08; I'd be gutted if I had never gotten to see the whole line up play live.
    That was an awesome ****ing show!
    Maybe something happened with the rest of the band so he chose to retire? I mean, cmon, who the hell retires right before their final tour? That makes no sense whatsoever. =/ Priest won't be the same without Downing.
    K Reyn
    Doesn't make a lick of sense he would retire right before the final tour. I understand it's his choice but come on. He should just tough it out, for a final tour it has to be a Tipton/Downing combo. "So much for the golden future."
    Having only been two years old when Halford left, I can't tell if this is more or less shocking. Checked.
    So I heard the guy on myspace replacing him doing covers and his own work.....he looks like Kurt Cobain but can put out listenable music XD yeah he is really good but looks more like Brian Tatler of Diamond Head anyways even though he isn't an original he is worthy of standing next to Tipton so don't let it be like oh well this guy is gunna suck lol as a rather decent guitarist myself this guy is pretty good and can pull off songs like pain killer like its nothing so yeah.....he is worthy of shredding with Master Tipton.
    CrawlingHorror wrote: Now if only Metallica, the Scorpions, Aerosmith, Kiss, The Who and Iron Maiden would take the hint and recognize that their best days were behind them a long while ago, too, and call it a day.
    Iron Maiden have just released the best album of a decade; Metallica have just finished one of the largest tours ever; and if Judas Priest wish to keep going they will, because they enjoy it. that would be like telling footballers after their career in fotball has finished they can't touch a ball again in their life
    I'm going to listen to Priest all day now and try to hold back the tears. Good luck K.K., you are a metal icon. You always will be.
    ginger ninja102
    shame but hes worked for it i suppose wish they could of resolved the problems and just do the last tour but hey its his decision and i saw him a few years ago at my first concert so thanks muchly
    Well that made my mind up for me about whether i was going to buy a ticket or not. WHY THE HELL would you quit just before the farewell tour?
    One of the bigggggest reasons I picked up a guitar, there. Awh well, I'm just sad I never even got a chance to see him play live.
    I read this article yesterday, then this morning saw the headline again and for a second I saw it as 'Judas Priest Guitarist Returns', and thought "oh that was fast". Wishful thinking?
    For those who don't know, he built a golf course on his estate, so I can guess what he's planning on doing now =P But seriously, it's a shame, but he's nearly 60 now and he's been working in music since '68, so even if it is a great shame (he's always been my favourite since I first listened to Priest years ago), it's to be expected, and I wish him well. I just hope Glenn doesn't decide to follow.
    Aw. Shi*. I haz tickets as well. Ah well, as long as they bring another skilled guy along. Prefably an old one who is 'in place' .
    Can see it now.....them like 20 years from now on stage.....Halford with a walker and a raspy old man's voice holding up a bottle of Advil "This is! My Pain Kiler yeaaaaah!" then Glen Tipton going Jimmy Paige on guitar with a serious Immma kick your ass sonny face while shredding with his cane XD sorry couldn't resist.
    Thanks for the amazing sounds, pal. Priest became my favorite metal band the first time I ever heard one of their songs [Some Heads Are Gonna Roll] and this is disappointing to know I'll never see the original JP lineup live. I was just born at the wrong time...
    And that's the end of one of the best guitarist duos in music history - good thing we still have the records.
    Couldn't agree more. Rock hard, ride free, K.K. Thanks for the music. I wish him nothing but the best.
    I wish I had the opportunity to see Priest live with Downing. It's a shame that one of my life long dreams won't be materialized. However, I hope he's just tired and that there's no health/family issues involved. Besides, who knows. Maybe he'll come back for one more show or something. My heart is broken, but my hope will still remain haha. I wish him the best of luck with whatever he's planning on doing, even if it's just sitting on the couch with a nice cold beer in hand
    Sad to hear, but I guess he deserves a break after all the years of music he's been making. Like everyone else, I wish him the best. And that's the end of one of the best guitarist duos in music history - good thing we still have the records.
    Goodbye K.K. I can just imagine how someone younger, never getting a chance to see you live, must feel here. I am fortunate enough to have seen you live 12 times and even I am saddened by the news. However all the best to you K.K. you will be very much missed but you deserve it. Best of luck to you on every level and thank you for ALL the music you have awarded us over the years.
    Fireballz 1077
    Damn....KK...You will be missed... Maybe they can get someone like Hetfield to fill in for him on this tour...or Slash lol
    I wish K.K. all the best, and yeah, the guy has the right to retire after 40 years of being awesome. On the plus side, I saw Lauren Harris when she opened for her dad and I was pretty impressed by her guitarist, so, fingers crossed.