"I was expecting to be back in the band when there was an opening." K.K. Downing explains why he'll never play with Judas Priest again, despite appearing with them at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame last year

K.K. Downing and Rob Halford on stage at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Last year, Judas Priest reunited with erstwhile guitarist K.K. Downing for a historic, celebratory performance at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ceremony. The performance, which also featured former drummer Les Binks, took place in honour of Priest being inducted into the Hall Of Fame courtesy of a special Musical Excellence award.

Downing's first show with the band for 13 years led many fans to hope he may one day return to the fold full-time but according to a new interview with Metal Hammer, the guitarist himself says that door is firmly closed, claiming he wouldn't even play with the band again.

“No," he replies bluntly when asked about ever making another appearance with Priest. "Before I started KK’s Priest, I asked if they’d consider me stepping back into my rightful place, because at one point they announced they were going out as a four-piece. I was expecting to be back in the band when there was an opening, or at least to be asked. But Glenn and Ian [Hill, bassist] wrote through their lawyers saying a flat no, which made no sense, as I was there first. And Rob [Halford] left for 11 years so how does he have the right to say ‘I won’t consider you re-joining’ – I was instrumental in reinstating him into the band! Glenn wasn’t interested in having Rob back, he wanted to keep Ripper [Tim Owens, who replaced Rob Halford in Priest when the latter left in the 90s]. But I gave them one last chance, and I was like, ‘Are you sure? One day you might live to regret it.’ Let’s hope they don’t.”

Downing did, however, say that he had always hoped to work with Tim Owens again, after the singer was replaced by a returning Halford, who returned to Judas Priest in 2003.

“Yes, I’m hoping we can create something here where Ripper finds a good home," Downing notes. "I believe that when he sings this material, he’s at his best. His voice can cover anything, but our stuff is a little paced out so he can get the best out of the lyrics and the notes.”

Read more from K.K. Downing in the latest issue of Metal Hammer, out now. 

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.