KK Downing: 'I Didn't Retire From Judas Priest: I Quit'

Guitarist explains reasons for departure in new interview.

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KK Downing has been speaking to Midlands Rocks (via Classic Rock) about his departure from Judas Priest. In the interview, the guitarist has revealed that he didn’t retire from the band, but quit because he wasn’t enjoying being in the band:

"I'll never get away from this 'retirement' thing. What happened was that I quit. 'Retired' implies that I am not physically able to do it. I am able to do it, but I didn't want to do it; I just wasn't enjoying it any more. A lot of things had changed. I think I counted about thirty reasons why I didn't want to do it at the time, and that's an awful lot of reasons.

"In all honesty I think that in so many respects it had run its course. If you're part of a songwriting team you get the recognition and reward for creating something. But for me Priest became about going out and playing live and replicating exactly what people had enjoyed ten, twenty or thirty years ago. The fans would be just as happy if they could see us take them on a walk down memory lane - I think that's what people enjoy most. And I understand that, because if I could go out now and see Eric Clapton with Cream then I would be the happiest person in the world."

Downing also notes that music industry changes had soured his desire to be in a high-profile touring band:

"If the industry was still healthy and people still had to spend their hard-earned money buying a record, it would be different. We used to buy an album and think, 'Well it's not that good, but I'll play it a million times and I'm sure I'll get into it.' Now it doesn't get a second chance. In the past there was always the opportunity to create a record like "The Dark Side of the Moon" or "British Steel" or "Back in Black" that would be indelible, and people will always come back to. I think that opportunity has gone now - it would take a miracle for one of those to happen again."

20 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This is why I buy CDs and put them in my car. I drive around for 1 or 2 weeks with the same CD it grows on me. Compared to when I walk around with my Iphone changing the songs every 30 sec.
    agree, i had to do that with the last two Megadeth CDs some of my favorite music wasn't an initial "like"
    yeah, the thing that most surprise me is how many songs that at first were "weird" turned out to be a real masterpiece. We tend to "consume" music rather then enjoying it, and it require a lot of time. that's my opinion
    I have tried and failed to explain this concept to so many people, a music recording should be a possession, not a consumable.
    Well thats more about your listening habits than anything, I listen to the same album alot over a few days on my phone, just as you would with CD's.
    Would have never gotten into Megadeth back in the day, I used to hate the sound of Dave's voice, I had a copy of "Back to the Start" in my car for like a whole semester in high school, it grew on me and now Megadeth are in my top 5.
    Arfing Thumb
    I'm (almost) always giving an album a second chance. Sometimes even a third and a fourth...
    Pretty much every one of my favorite artists I wasn't sold on the first time I listened to them. For me often the quicker I take to a band, the quicker I find them boring. Most of my favorites took some time to fully understand the music, and music I liked right out of the gate often didn't have much more to it then what I first thought. There are exceptions of course, but the majority of my favorite artists took some time to get used to. Artists who I didn't like at first but later were sold on include (but are definitely not limited to) Dream Theater, Blind Guardian, Opeth, Devin Townsend, Porcupine Tree, Pain of Salvation, Rush, The Beatles, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Mastodon, and many others. Some of you might be shocked at some of those on the list, but truly at first I did not enjoy them. Now I'd rank them all highly.
    I was totally afriad he was going to start ranting about not making enough money off o0f records, but then he raised a very good point: You put more chance into an album you bought.
    You may give it more of a chance once you have it, but you may also be more hesitant of getting the album in the first place.
    His Cream commment made me happy. If he wanted to quit, which it seems like it, fine. I hope he enjoys his time now, he's earned it.
    I call BS on the last part. If an album is good enough it will make it. You watch Pearl Jams latest effort explode like nothing this year.
    That's not his point. Sure, a good album that's easy to listen to will make it, but something like Nostradamus takes longer to get into and people don't necessarily give it that long if they can look it up on youtube or whatever and decide that the songs aren't immediately catchy enough.
    I thought that it was a good album(or albums(?) whatever)
    I loved it, but it took me several listens to get into it, and if I'd just listened to it once on youtube or whatever and made up my mind I wouldn't have bought it.
    Very valid points in the last paragraph- maybe not for everyone on here but definitely a hell of a lot of the youth of today (whom the music is targeted)! And I saw Priest with KK and they blew me away. I'd never seen them before but they put on the best show I've seen. Massive set list, hugely excitable crowd and the band performed like they were loving it! This was their last world tour but I hope they keep doing other tours with Ritchie!
    sometimes we all live in the past. live for today and enjoy ! and look forward to the future ! tomorrow will soon become yesterday !!!