K.K. Downing has said that playing at Judas Priest’s upcoming Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony on November 5 “will be something to look forward to,” seeming to confirm in the process that he will be joining the band onstage during the show.
While there have been contrasting messages from both camps, Downing's comments to Ultimate Classic Rock imply that he is committed to reappearing with the band.
“It's what I've done so many times,” the guitarist told the site. “It's almost like cracking a beer, let alone riding a bike. It's embedded in me. It's what I do. So it'll be quite something to look forward to, just to get up there and crank the amps up and just do it once again, for that short moment in time.”
Downing is considered to be part of ‘Priest’s golden era line-up and played on all of their most iconic records, including 1980’s British Steel. He left the group in 2011 following a deterioration in their relationship. Still, it seems that redemption may be on the cards, at least for a few minutes…
“It'll go by in a flash, won't it?” Downing says, in the same piece. “I think we've probably got eight or nine minutes. I’m not even going to be able to break a sweat.
“The main thing is to represent the attitude and hopefully the legend of what Judas Priest is and has become and what it means to everybody who's been on that very long journey through the decades with the band.
“And hopefully, it will just kind of remind people and bring back some cherished memories of the heavy metal parking lots all around the world.”
For a while, it seemed as though Downing’s temporary return might not be such a foregone conclusion, owing to the stinging words that have been exchanged between both camps in recent times.
When he quit back in 2011, Downing cited “ongoing breakdown in working relationships between myself, elements of the band and management for some time," before writing in his 2018 memoir that his relationship with fellow guitarist Glenn Tipton had been a major contributing factor to his exit.
After telling The Guardian he “never found Glenn to be particularly easy to get along with," Downing said to Guitar World during an interview in 2021 that Judas Priest “didn’t want any part” of him at the time, despite being “one of the only original members."
Earlier this year, Tipton addressed his relationship with Downing in a new interview with Guitar World, saying, “I never wanted to get into a public argument after K.K. left. I never said a word and I stuck to my guns for over 10 years, but there comes a point when you read things that have been said that are just crazy.
“He's insinuated that he was the driving force of the band,” he continued. “It just isn't true. He's said all these things that, I think, are meant to upset us and get us to say something in response and for a long time we didn't. But I've got a lot to say and enough's enough.”
Earlier this year, it was announced that Judas Priest would finally be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and that the band would receive the Musical Excellence Awards after unsuccessful nomination attempts in 2018 and 2020.
The induction ceremony is set to take place on November 5 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California.