Former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing says that Rob Halford, Ian Hill and Scott Travis would "certainly" have "entertained the idea" of having him return to the band if there wasn't something preventing them from doing so.
K.K. announced his retirement from PRIEST in April 2011. He has since been replaced by Richie Faulkner, who was once the guitarist in the backing group for Lauren Harris, daughter of IRON MAIDEN bassist Steve Harris.
Last year, Downing revealed that he actually sent two resignation letters to his bandmates when he decided to quit 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 told The Guardian that he believes the second letter was "a key reason" he wasn't invited to rejoin PRIEST following Glenn Tipton's decision to retire from the road due to his battle with Parkinson's disease. (Tipton is being replaced on tour by producer Andy Sneap, also known for his work as the guitar player in NWOBHM revivalists HELL and cult thrash outfit SABBAT.)
Asked in a brand new interview with Full In Bloom if he has had any contact with his former bandmates in recent months, Downing said (hear audio below): "There's not any love left for me, I'm afraid, in the camp, it seems to be. And it's as simple as that. When I left, I made it clear that I wasn't happy and who I wasn't happy with and why. And then, obviously, I burned my bridges by doing that, because once you're out, you're not being let back in."
According to K.K., he never got a chance to even discuss the possibility of returning to PRIEST once Glenn made the decision to stop touring.
"Glenn decided to step down, and the minute he did, he passed the guitar to Andy, who was there, and he said, 'You've got the job,'" Downing said. "So there was never an option for me… When Glenn stepped down, it would have been an option for me to step back in, because I was ready to do it, really, is what I think. I mean, Richie covers Glenn's parts now anyway. He even plays 'Painkiller' — Richie does — and does a great job of it. It would have made sense for me to step back in and take my role as someone who has a 40-year legacy of standing in that spot. If there was an option — if there was a remote option — that that could have been done, then those guys, for the sake of the fans, should really have asked the question, 'Is it an option?' But they didn't. It's sad that it came to that."
Had the choice of bringing Downing back to PRIEST ever been presented to Halford, Hill and Travis, "I think that [they] would have welcomed it, because it seems to make eminent sense," K.K. said. "To get the fans to accept a brand new guy or a guy that was there, the originator from day one that's written all of those songs and played all of those solos, it doesn't make any sense to bring someone in that's essentially more of a great producer than anything else."
Downing went on to take credit for being "the first guy to bring the flying V to heavy metal, ever," a look that is "so synonymous with metal that both Richie and Andy play flying Vs, let alone almost every metal band in the world," he said. "So it doesn't make sense not to have my image and my persona there."
Asked if he has tried reaching out to Rob directly and talking things out, K.K. said: "Rob's always been cool. I mean, Rob left the band for 14 years, and I was the one that brought him back in, I was the one that was instrumental, I was the one that reached out to him. But at the moment, everything's outside of his control, Ian's and Scott's. That's what I think."
Pressed about whether he believes Tipton is still running PRIEST from behind the scenes, Downing said: "Well, if Glenn isn't, who is? Rob's never been a decision maker, or Ian, really, in the band ever. It was always me and Glenn, really. Well, it was, to start with. Then the decision making was more Glenn and Jayne [Andrews from PRIEST's management company], really. But, anyway, it's a sad state of affairs. It's well documented now, and I certainly wouldn't like to get any more quotes on Blabbermouth, because I think everybody's had enough of it. It will be what it will be."
Downing reiterated that he believes most of his former bandmates would have been open to the possibility of him returning to PRIEST.
"Given the choice, Rob, Ian and Scott, I believe, would have certainly entertained the idea of having me step back in the band, if there wasn't something preventing them to do so," he said. "I don't know what influences there are, but I've always had a very, very good relationship with Rob, Ian and Scott — aways. Me and Ian were just brothers.
"A lot of things went on in the band that us collectively were not happy with — me, Rob, Scott and Ian," he explained. "For a long time, collectively, we were not happy. We were joint, we were as one for some years towards the end. And so, there must be some power that I don't know about that's not doing things the way they should be done."
K.K. has spent the last few months promoting his autobiography, "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest", which came out in September.