Former Priest axeman Downing rejects bassist Hill’s explanation of split – while guitarist Tipton comes up with his own theory

KK Downing and Glenn Tipton

Side by side: Downing and Tipton

Retired Judas Priest guitarist KK Downing has denied he left the band because he wanted to concentrate on running his golf course.

He surprised fans by announcing his departure just as the metal gods revealed their current world tour would be their last. His statement alluded to dissatisfaction with “management and band elements” but he didn’t elaborate.

Bassist Ian Hill, now Priest’s sole remaining original member, recently suggested Downing wanted to focus on his nine-hole course at his Shropshire home of Astbury Hall.

But Downing has rubbished the suggestion. He says: “I love Iain as a brother and nothing will ever change that – but his take on the situation is inaccurate, and the people from the press has no license to jump in and take what they thought was a cheap scoop out of what Ian thought the situation was.

“My golf course is not, and was never, the reason for not doing the tour with Judas Priest.

“I have had in place since last September the world’s leading golf management company. The course has been open and running smoothly.

“Anyone who has ever known me will testify that I’ve always been dedicated to Judas Priest and the fans – and nothing has ever stopped me from touring until now. I stand by my original statement on the matter.

“Athough I am not there, I wish for the name Judas Priest to forever be triumphant. I have no doubt the tour is sensational and I urge you all again not to miss this one.”

Meanwhile, guitarist Glenn Tipton has come up with his own reason for the split.

He tells RushOnRock: “KK decided to retire and we have to respect his decision. He told us last December but we didn’t say anything and gave him some time, probably hoping he’d change his mind – but he didn’t.

“He’s had some problems with his wrist and I think he looked at another world tour and didn’t think he could pull it off again. He must have thought seriously about his decision.”

Priest are touring with new guitarist Richie Faulkner, and have begun work on an album with him. Tipton adds: “He’s enjoyed his time with us from the word go. I said to him at the start, ‘If there are any tricky parts and you need me to show you how to play them, I’m here.’ After an hour or two he was showing me stuff.”

Related stories: