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KK Downing on the bust up between Judas Priest and Rob Halford: “It all got proper ugly”

A composite image of KK Downing and Rob Halford
(Image credit: David M. Benett/Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

As KK Priest prepare for the release of new album Sermons Of The Sinner, bandleader and former Judas Priest guitarist KK Downing has opened up about his former band's "ugly" run-ins in the 90s.

In a frank new interview with Classic Rock Magazine, Downing shares detail about the intra-band turmoil that followed Rob Halford's departure from the band in 1990.

When asked by Classic Rock's Dave Ling if he ever really forgave Rob Halford for leaving Judas Priest, he replies: "Well, it all got proper ugly – Rob’s first album [with Fight, the band Halford formed after leaving Priest] was called War Of Words. It was an ugly affair. 

"Look, artists have difficult temperaments. There’s good, bad and ugly within us all and we get fired up about things. How many times have you broken up with a girlfriend and said never again, and a year later she’s back? Shit happens in life. 

"Rob is a great performer, everybody knows that. But he’s sensitive. I can’t guarantee to say all of the right things in an interview, because everybody’s human.

Elsewhere, when asked about the "light-hearted" manner in which Halford handled Downing leaving Priest in 2011 in his autobiograpy, Downing replies: "When all is said and done, Rob knows I was the guy that brought him back into Priest [in 2003]. 

"Glenn [Tipton] wasn’t happy about it, and I understood that, because after he left Rob said a few things about the band – a lot more than I ever did. 

"Given a choice, I think Rob would have had me back in the band. We had fought so many battles together and travelled so many miles."

The full interview is available to read in the new issue of Classic Rock, which is available now. 

KK Priest's new album, Sermons Of The Sinner, is due on October 1 via Explorer1 Music Group and is available for pre-order now. Check out the title track below.

Briony Edwards

Briony is the Editor in Chief of Louder and is in charge of sorting out who and what you see covered on the site. She started working with Metal Hammer, Classic Rock and Prog magazines back in 2015 and has been writing about music and entertainment in many guises since 2009. She is a big fan of cats, Husker Du and pizza.