Judas Priest threatened KK Downing with legal action over his new band name, guitarist claims

KK’s Priest
(Image credit: Explorer1 Music Group/EX1 Records)

Former Judas Priest guitarist KK Downing has re-entered the music business with a new band, KK's Priest, featuring former Judas Priest vocalist Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens, and the group are set to release their debut album, Sermons Of The Sinner, on August 20 via Explorer1 Music Group/EX1 Records. But in a new interview with Rock Hard Greece, Downing reveals that lawyers acting on behalf of his former brothers-in-metal threatened him with legal action over his choice of band name.

“Their lawyers sent a letter to my record company making threats of legal action if I went forward with KK's Priest,” the guitarist says. “But for the moment, nothing happened. I think they made the threat but decided not to follow through with the threat. But they made the threat to try to stop me making the band.”

Downing has been involved in a war of words with his former bandmates for the best part of a decade, since he resigned from the band in 2011. In 2014 he stated that his decision to leave the Birmingham metal gods was at least partially inspired by his belief that “the spark wasn’t there” anymore, and in 2015 he suggested that, in hiring guitarist Richie Faulkner, Priest had effectively replaced him with his doppelgänger. Having previously said he would never play with Priest again, in 2018 Downing claimed to have been “shocked and stunned” that he wasn’t asked to rejoin the band after Glenn Tipton was forced to take a step back from live duties due to his battle with Parkinson’s, and insinuated that producer (and former Sabbat guitarist) Andy Sneap played Tipton’s guitar parts on their Firepower album.

When Downing launched his new band last year he stated: “Forging ahead with KK’s Priest was not only inevitable, but was essential for me to perform and deliver everything that is expected from me and KK’s Priest.”

“Due to the massive demand and overwhelming support from fans around the world, I feel this is where I belong, and a set combining the true, classic songs and sound of Priest, together with great, newly forged metal tracks, is what fans can expect when KK’s Priest takes to stages around the world.”

In his Rock Hard Greece interview, the guitarist says, “I think a lot of fans will understand that I have been a Priest since 1968…We went from blues, when I was young, to progressive blues to rock to hard rock to heavy rock to heavy metal. I've been on that journey. So I believe that I have a right to continue as a Priest, because some of the guys in Priest now, I haven't met them, and they're playing my songs, which is fine, but if they have a right to be a Priest, then I have a right.”

“I can't start something absolutely new,” he continued, “I can't sound like a new guitar player. I can't write like a new guitar player. So everything I do is gonna be reminiscent of the past to the fans. So that's when I decided that [I was gonna call the band KK's Priest]. And I think it's gonna be absolutely fine; I really do. And the face of KK's Priest, that will evolve, and that will be on the journey with us. There's so much yet to come — there's more videos, more songs coming your way. And there's more albums to come also.”

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