Monday, May 16, 2011

Rob Halford Discusses Departure of Judas Priest Guitarist K.K. Downing

Michael Wright

With their farewell tour kicking off in just a few weeks, Judas Priest have been rehearsing intensively—a job made more challenging due to the abrupt exit of guitarist and founding member K.K. Downing in April. Downing issued a press release stating that he left because of a breakdown in his relationship with members of the band and the group’s management. Frontman Rob Halford addressed the topic with Spanish metal journalist Rafa Basa (as reported onBlabbermouth), who asked the metal god why he thought Downing timed his departure right before the group’s farewell tour.
“It's a great question. I can't answer it. You have to get in touch with K.K. and ask him that question, 'cause I can't answer it. I think we've tried to be as honest and as straightforward as we can be on both sides of the discussion, and it is very emotional. I mean, you could just as easily [have asked] that same question—which you may have done—when I was away from the band, and Ripper, my good friend Ripper, was holding the mic for me. You just have to carry on. I think more than anything, it's just kind of difficult, 'cause it's a farewell tour. Why is it happening now? Well, you've got no control over life, have you? [Laughs] You can't control life and these things happen. So you just have to accept them and see what your options are. So that's the way it is.
“Of course, it will never be the same without K.K., like I'm sure a lot of people said it was never the same without me. But you can't just grind to a halt, you can't just stop everything—that would be ridiculous. We have obligations to our fans and to promoters and to everybody else, and to our record company, and we wanna fulfill them and be professional and do the right thing, which is what I think we are doing."
Halford confided that the departure hit him and the rest of the band on a personal level.
“I just feel very sad that this whole episode has taken place at the time that it has. I think that we're all dealing with it differently. I love Ken like a brother; we've been in each other's lives for over 40 years. And we're all still good friends; that's the important thing. It doesn't matter about the breakdown in the communication or the creative differences; that's just part of being in a band. The friendship and the caring for each other, that doesn't go away. It should never go away. Because we've been through too much together and you can't let differences of opinion over different incidents and different moments, you can't let that affect your long-term-standing relationship, business-wise and personal-wise, you can't let that get destroyed; that would be a terrible thing to do. So you just respect each other, you respect each other's choices and you respect each other's decisions.
“And I'm sure that at some point K.K. will probably want to be a little bit more open about his reasons for departing Priest; that's entirely up to K.K. We've made it clear that we're not speaking for K.K.; we can only speak for ourselves and what we need to do. So there you go—that's about as much as we can really offer to the press and to our fans at this point.”

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