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K.K. Downing Comments on His Departure From Judas Priest

As previously reported by, longtime Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing retired from the yesterday, right before the band was to embark on their final world tour.

At the time, no official reason was given for his departure. Today, however, the former Priest guitarist issued this statement:

"Dear friends,

It is with much regret that I will not be with you this summer. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your concerns about my health. Please rest assured that I am O.K. There has been an ongoing breakdown in the working relationship between myself, elements of the band, and the band's management for some time. Therefore I have decided to step down rather than to tour with negative sentiments as I feel that this would be a deception to you, our cherished fans. However I would urge you to please support the Priest as I have no doubt that it will be a show not to be missed.

All my love and respect."

Guitarist Richie Faulkner will replace Downing on Judas Priest's upcoming world tour.