K.K. DOWNING Says It’s ‘Extremely Unfair’ For TIM ‘RIPPER’ OWENS-Era JUDAS PRIEST Albums To Be ‘Erased’

In a new interview with “THAT Rocks!”, the YouTube series hosted by Eddie Trunk, Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson, former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing was asked how he and his KK’S PRIEST bandmates come up with the setlist for their live shows. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “I like to put something down because it’s so hard. But the thing is it’s also hard to go wrong with all of these [PRIEST] songs. I mean, if we threw all of the songs out that we have been playing and are gonna play and change the set completely, it would still be a great set — because I’d probably put in there ‘Blood Red Skies’, ‘Sinner’, ‘Rock Hard Ride Free’, ‘Freewheel Burning’, ‘Turbo [Lover]’. And plus the other songs, the KK’S PRIEST songs that we haven’t played yet. So, yeah, it’s pretty hard to go wrong. And also, the [PRIEST] albums that we did with Tim [‘Ripper’ Owens, who is also in KK’S PRIEST], people still wanna hear ‘Cathedral Spires’ and ‘Hell Is Home’ and ‘One On One’ and stuff like that. People say they would like to hear some of that stuff as well. So it’s pretty difficult. But let’s face it, we could play a five-hour set, couldn’t we, really?”

When Florentine pointed out that the two studio albums Owens recorded with JUDAS PRIEST — 1997’s “Jugulator” and 2001’s “Demolition” — are not available on the major streaming services, Downing said: “It just seems like they’ve — the desire is to want to erase those songs, which is extremely unfair, really, because it’s a part of my musical history, Tim‘s musical history, and [it’s] very, very sad. Not to make those albums available to the fans is just crazy, really.

“We just did a festival at the end of last year, and we played ‘Burn In Hell’ [from ‘Jugulator’]. And I think just that one song from that one festival had about 90,000 hits [on YouTube], and considerably more than other songs that we played in the set — KK’S PRIEST and JUDAS PRIEST songs.”

Owens joined PRIEST in 1996 after being discovered when the band’s drummer was given a videotape of him performing with the PRIEST cover band BRITISH STEEL. JUDAS PRIEST at the time was seeking a replacement for Rob Halford, who has since rejoined the band.

Back in 2019, JUDAS PRIEST bassist Ian Hill was asked in an interview with “Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon” if the unavailability of the Owens-era PRIEST albums was a rights-related issue or if it was a deliberate attempt to bury that part of PRIEST‘s past. Hill responded: “It’s an odd one, really, because there’s some good material on both of those albums. And Ripper is a terrific vocalist, and he did a tremendous job on ‘Jugulator’ and ‘Demolition’. And why they’re not for sale has got nothing to do with us — put it like that. Whether it’s a contractual thing between Sony and whoever owns the copyrights to those albums, I don’t know. But it is a shame, because there’s some good material there. And as a band, it’s still JUDAS PRIEST. I know it wasn’t the trademark lineup, but it was still JUDAS PRIEST nonetheless. So, it’s disappointing — if that’s true that the material is not available. It really is.”

A few years ago, Tim told “Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon” that he was a little miffed by the fact that fans cannot find the music that he made with PRIEST on any of the music-streaming services or other online retailers. “My issue is I would like to buy the records,” he said. “I’d like to buy some to even sell when I’m touring solo, but you can’t when they’re kind of gone. And that’s only the thing I talk about… If they were out there, I could maybe buy ’em at cost and sell ’em at my concerts. That would be kind of cool. Then I’d have my whole catalog.”

KK’S PRIEST features former JUDAS PRIEST members Downing and Owens, alongside guitarist A.J. Mills (HOSTILE),bassist Tony Newton (VOODOO SIX) and drummer Sean Elg (DEATHRIDERS, CAGE).

KK’S PRIEST will embark on its first-ever U.S. headlining tour next month. The trek will kick off on March 7 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and will feature support from L.A. GUNS and BURNING WITCHES. The tour will be the first of at least a two-leg USA run of shows, planned to continue later in 2024.

KK’S PRIEST made its live debut on July 6, 2023 at Downing’s KK’s Steel Mill in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom.

KK’S PRIEST kicked off a five-date “Priests, Killers & Witches” U.K. tour on October 7, 2023 at O2 Institute in Birmingham.

KK’S PRIEST‘s sophomore album, “The Sinner Rides Again”, came out in September 2023 via the Austrian label Napalm Records.

The art for “The Sinner Rides Again” was created by talented artist Andy Pilkington.

K.K. formed KK’S PRIEST after JUDAS PRIEST turned down his offer to rejoin the band for their 50th-anniversary tour. It followed a couple of celebrated stage appearances, first with former MANOWAR guitarist Ross The Boss in the summer of 2019, then with a one-off lineup that included former MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson and former PRIEST drummer Les Binks later that year.

KK’S PRIEST released its debut album, “Sermons Of The Sinner”, in October 2021 via Explorer1 Music Group/EX1 Records.

Downing spent four months writing and recording “Sermons Of The Sinner” and, along with new ideas, he even resurrected a few archived riffs from the 1980s.

Downing was reunited with JUDAS PRIEST for a performance at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony in November 2022 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

PRIEST received the Musical Excellence Award at the event, which honored Eminem, Dolly Parton, DURAN DURAN, Lionel Richie, Pat Benatar, EURYTHMICS and Carly Simon in the Performers category.

Downing left PRIEST in 2011 amid claims of band conflict, shoddy management and declining quality of performance. He was replaced by Richie Faulkner, nearly three decades his junior.

In 2019, Downing said that he reached out to JUDAS PRIEST about taking part in the band’s 50th-anniversary tour but that their response was that they were not interested in including him in the celebrations.

In 2018, Downing revealed that he sent two resignation letters to his bandmates when he decided to quit JUDAS PRIEST. The first was described as “a graceful exit note, implying a smooth retirement from music,” while the second was “angrier, laying out all of his frustrations with specific parties.”

Downing later said that he believed the second letter was “a key reason” he wasn’t invited to rejoin PRIEST after Glenn Tipton‘s decision to retire from touring.


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