Guitarist retires with immediate effect – and he’ll be replaced by Lauren Harris axeman for metal gods’ final world tour

KK Downing

End of the line: KK Downing

Guitarist KK Downing has quit Judas Priest, and won’t join the band on their upcoming final world tour.

The 59-year-old axeman recently told his bandmates that he’d decided to retire with immediate effect. After considering the situation they’ve decided to complete the Epitaph tour as planned.

Downing will be replaced by 31-year-old Richie Faulkner, who was most recently a member of Lauren Harris’ band.

In a statement Judas Priest say: “KK Downing has formally retired and will therefore not be joining us on tour. The band respect his decision and we all wish him well.

“Having thought long and hard about how to proceed, Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill and Scott Travis unanimously agreed to go ahead with the tour, and not let down the fans around the world.

“Fate stepped in and delivered the perfect replacement. Richie has blended into the band perfectly, and he’s a great talent who’s going to help set the stage on fire.”

Priest last year revealed they’d decided to bring their touring career to an end after over 40 years on the road. They plan to release a new album in 2012.

Downing said at the time: “Travelling becomes such a major part of your life that you feel like a piece of luggage yourself. But when you get to go to places you’ve never been before like Korea, Turkey, Romania and Columbia, you feel like the luckiest man alive.

“People often ask me what it’s like to be on a tour and I always say the same thing. It’s the hardest thing you will ever do.”

Meanwhile drummer Travis has joined an as-yet unnamed supergroup which also features ex-Yngwie Malmsteen singer Mike Vescera, Dio bassist Rudy Sarzo and guitarist Chris Imellitteri.

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