KK Downing offers sympathies to Mick Mars in ongoing Motley Crue saga

A composite picture of Mick Mars and KK Downing
(Image credit: Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage and Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

Former Judas Priest guitarist KK Downing says he sympathises with Mick Mars who is involved in a war of words and ongoing legal wrangle with Motley Crue.

Mars stepped back from touring duties last year due to his ongoing battle with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). He was quickly replaced by John 5, but over the past few days it has been revealed he is suing Motley Crue.

The 71-year-old claims he was asked to give up his 25% stake in the band's business interests in exchange for 7.5% of the profit made from Crue's 2023 tour, after which he'd be entitled to nothing.

Mars' lawsuit makes it clear that he won't accept those terms, and it also makes explosive claims including that bassist Nikki Sixx had been "gaslighting" him, that his bandmates had been using backing tracks during live performances, and that the band had been trying to force him out for years.

Motley Crue quickly released a lengthy statement in response, denying the claims about using backing tracks and instead claiming Mars was unable to perform his guitar parts properly on stage.

KK Downing announced his retirement from Judas Priest back in 2011, but he says his situation is "identical" to that in which Mars finds himself now.

Downing tells Blabbermouth: "I do sympathise, because I'm going through exactly the same thing. And it's pretty unsavoury, to say the least. After spending a lifetime building the band's name, reputation, popularity and value, in particular brand name, it should be all right for people to retire, especially through illness.

"In my case, we were gearing up in 2010 to do a final world tour, the Epitaph tour, which was meant to be the end of the band. And because I was having pressure put on me to write for an EP to support that tour, which I absolutely was not gonna be any part of… I certainly didn't want to finish my career with an EP. So I threw the towel in and sent a retirement letter in.

"There was a whole set of circumstances for me not doing the final tour. And one of the main considerations was we were getting to be concerned about Rob (Halford) and we thought that he was gearing up, ready to leave again. I really wanted to mention that because it really wasn't the band I was leaving. It was just I decided not to do the farewell, final tour of the band, because that's what we all agreed and that's what was intended to happen.

"So essentially my decision was just not to do the final tour of the band. Of course I didn't know that the band would continue, at that time, right up until today. Otherwise things and decisions may well have been different. But, as I said, I sympathize with Mick because the circumstances between the two of us seem to be pretty much, well, identical."

Last year, Downing reunited with Priest for a live performance at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

While that event looked like making a permanent reunion more likely, Downing's latest comments suggest the relationship may be too damaged for a reconciliation.

Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.