After some time away from the spotlight, former Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing has formed a new band that will pay homage to his past — alongside other ex-members of the heavy-metal pioneers.
Downing joined the band in 1970 and left in 2011, saying, “I feel that Priest has played its part in music history and feel very proud to have achieved what we have.” Not long after his departure, Richie Faulkner joined the group.
Downing’s new band, KK’s Priest, will find him performing alongside vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens, Judas Priest’s singer from 1996 until 2003, and drummer Les Binks, who was in the band from 1977 to 1979 and played on their Stained Class and Hell Bent for Leather albums. He has rounded out the lineup with guitarist A.J. Mills (Hostile) and bassist Tony Newton (Voodoo Six).
“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,” K.K Downing said in a statement. “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.”
The group is working on its debut album, which will come out via Explorer1 Music Group. It will be on the road, playing festivals, later this year to mark the 50th anniversary of Downing’s career. The shows will feature a mix of Judas Priest songs and new songs.
Downing made his return to the stage last year at the U.K.’s Bloodstock Open Air Festival alongside former Manowar guitarist Ross the Boss. He also played a one-off gig with four-fifths of KK’s Priest’s members (Megadeth’s David Ellefson played bass at that show) and decided to move forward with a band.
In 2018, Downing released a tell-all memoir, Heavy Duty. In an interview with Rolling Stone about the book at the time, he said he wasn’t sure if he wanted to make new music. “I find it hard to want to put time into writing music to start all over again,” he said. “But I’ve just started playing again and I can alternate-pick as fast as anyone on the planet. Can I say that? It sounds a bit conceited, doesn’t it?”