There are Now Two Touring Versions of Judas Priest
Queensryche, L.A. Guns, Ratt, Faster Pussycat, Entombed and Cro-Mags are just a few of the bands whose members have split off into two factions, each touring using some version of the band’s name while sewing confusion amongst fans and resulting in a whole lot of bitter public in-fighting.
You can now add Judas Priest to that list! Former guitarist K.K. Downing has just announced the launch of KK’s Priest, a new entity also consisting of ex-Priest vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens, former drummer Les Binks (who only played with the band between 1977 and 1979) and two musicians who have no past affiliation with the band, guitarist A.J. Mills (Hostile) and bassist Tony Newton (Voodoo Six).
Downing, we ought to remind you, left Judas Priest of his own volition in 2011, citing retirement as the reason. He later embarked on a career as a perfume entrepreneur with the tagline “metal for men,” and in 2018 said he was “shocked and stunned” he wasn’t asked to rejoin Priest when Glenn Tipton stepped down due Parkinson’s disease. Downing later insinuated Tipton hadn’t played all of his guitar parts on Priest’s then-new album, Firepower, but later walked back that statement by saying it was meant as a compliment to Tipton’s touring stand-in, and the album’s producer, Andy Sneap. Longtime Priest bassist Ian Hill later explained why Downing wasn’t invited to replace Tipton, saying, “He retired seven years ago and he made it clear at the time that he didn’t wanna come back. So I’m surprised that he’s saying that he was surprised that he wasn’t asked.” Downing performed with Ross the Boss last summer for the first time in ten years at Bloodstock in the U.K.
The previous paragraph is a long-winded way of saying this: didn’t Downing say he wanted to retire? People are certainly entitled to change their minds, and I totally get it — why would anyone wanna leave Judas fucking Priest?? — but that’s what we all asked ourselves when Downing left the band.
The cynic in me feels obliged to point out that the timing of KK’s announcement is a bit suspect: Judas Priest will be celebrating 50 years as a band this year, and they’re making quite a big deal about it with a ton of touring, reissues, etc. Could Downing’s announcement be his way of attempting to share in that glory?
Downing says that KK’s Priest will not only perform the Priest classics for which he’s best known, but new songs as well:
“Forging ahead with KK’s Priest was not only inevitable but 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 is taking to stages.”
I’m forced to wonder what the market for KK’s Priest will be. Will folks care? I’m sure he’ll be able to get gigs, but they’ll pale in comparison to those by the real band. The whole thing strikes me as a bit sad and desperate, really: I understand that Downing wants to play, and he’s certainly entitled to — he was and IS a crucial part of Priest’s legacy, there’s no denying that — but the execution feels spiteful, vindictive and, well, kinda lame.
Sound off in the comments below with your opinion. Meanwhile, the actual Judas Priest have the following dates scheduled for 2020, including a tour with Ozzy Osbourne:
June 5 Moscow, RU – Moskva [tickets]
June 18 Veneto, IT – Rock The Castle 2020 – Villafranca di Verona [tickets]
July 1 Viveiro, ES – Resurrection Fest [tickets]
July 24 Bratislava, SK – NTC Arena [tickets]
August 9 – Swadlincote, UK – Bloodstock Open Air [tickets]
September 18 – Orland, FL – Rebel Rock Festival [tickets]
with Ozzy Osbourne:
October 23 Newcastle, Utilita Arena, UK [tickets]
October 25 Glasgow, SSE Hydro, UK [tickets]
October 28 London, The O2, UK [tickets]
October 31 Birmingham, Resorts World Arena, UK [tickets]
November 2 Manchester, Manchester Arena, UK [tickets]
November 5 Dublin, 3Arena, Ireland [tickets]
November 8 Nottingham, Motorpoint Arena, UK [tickets]
November 11 Dortmund, Westfalenhalle, Germany [tickets]
November 13 Prague, O2 Arena, Czech Republic [tickets]
November 16 Vienna, Stadthalle, Austria [tickets]
November 19 Bologna, Unipol Arena, Italy [tickets]
November 22 Madrid, WiZink Arena, Spain [tickets]
November 24 Zurich, Hallenstadion, Switzerland [tickets]
November 26 Munich, Olympiahalle, Germany [tickets]
November 28 Mannheim, SAP Arena, Germany [tickets]
November 30 Berlin, Mercedes-Benz Arena, Germany [tickets]
December 3 Hamburg, Barclaycard Arena, Germany [tickets]
December 5 Stockholm, Friends Arena, Sweden [tickets]
December 7 Helsinki, Hartwall Arena, Finland [tickets]