K.K. Downing says Judas Priest threatened him with legal action over KK's Priest name

K.K. Downing performing live
(Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Former Judas Priest electric guitar star K.K. Downing has claimed he was threatened with legal action from the remaining members of the band over the name of his new project, KK’s Priest.

Downing was a founding member of Judas Priest in 1968 but left in 2011 amid claims of band conflict and problems with management, being quickly replaced by Ritchie Faulkner. 

He had been on a hiatus from the industry until earlier this year, when he unveiled new supergroup KK’s Priest, featuring former Judas Priest vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens alongside A.J. Mills (Hostile), Tony Newton (Voodoo Six) and Sean Elg (Deathriders, Cage).

Speaking to Rock Hard Greece, Downing revealed, "Their lawyers sent a letter to my record company making threats of legal action if I went forward with KK’s Priest. But for the moment, nothing happened. I think they made the threat but decided not to follow through. They made the threat to stop me making the band.”

Defending his choice of name for the new five-piece, the 69-year axeman continued, “I think a lot of fans will understand that I have been a Priest since 1968. I’ve wanted to be a Priest since. I’ve traversed the road of the evolution of music as we know it today. 

"We went from blues, when I was young, to progressive blues to rock to hard rock to heavy rock to heavy metal," he added. "I’ve been on that journey. So, I believe that I have a right to continue as a Priest, because some of the guys in Priest now, I haven’t met them, and they’re playing my songs, which is fine. But if they have a right to be a Priest then I have a right. 

"I can’t write like a new guitar player. So, everything I do is gonna be reminiscent of the past to the fans. I think it’s gonna be absolutely fine; I really do. The face of KK’s Priest, that will evolve, and that will be on the journey with us.”

Downing also gave away that, shortly after his departure in 2011, his former bandmate Rob Halford got in touch about starting a new project with Arch Enemy's Jeff Loomis, formerly of Nevermore.

“A couple of weeks after I walked out, Rob and his manager wrote me a letter. They wanted me to form a band with Rob and some other musicians,” he reveals. “Jeff Loomis was one. I can’t remember the names. But I got the email… I just ignored it.”

KK’s Priest have already unveiled two tracks from their upcoming debut album, lead single Hellfire Thunderbolt and follow-up offering Sermons of the Sinner.

The band's debut album, Sermons of the Sinner, which will be released via Explorer1 Music Group/Ex 1 Records, is available to preorder now ahead of its August 20 release date.

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