In the late seventies and early eighties, heavy metal music experienced a resurgence in the underground scene. Bands were taking the old school heavy music of the late sixties and early seventies and giving it a shot of adrenaline with aggressive songs and screaming guitars. The movement came to be known as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, generating an entirely new heavy metal subculture that would eventually make it to the mainstream. Leading the charge and eagerly flying the metal flag were British rockers Judas Priest. Priest was known for their sensational twin guitar attack  of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton and helped usher in the leather and studs fashions that would become the iconic heavy metal wardrobe.

The band is responsible for heavy metal classic albums “British Steel” and “Screaming for Vengeance” and the massive tours that accompanied the success of those records. Over the years, Priest would go through some setbacks with lead vocalist Rob Halford leaving the band for over a decade in the nineties before returning to the fold along with changes in the music industry that affected the metal world.  In 2011 guitarist K.K Downing shocked the metal community by announcing his departure from the band.  Everyone assumed Downing had retired, after all, he had over forty years with the band. The fact is K.K. Downing had wanted to quit years earlier but Halford beat him to it.  After some time away from the limelight, Ken has written a book “Heavy Duty-Days and Nights in Judas Priest” to tell his story.  The book goes into depth about K.K.’s early years and the formation of the band up until he decided to call it quits.  BackstageAxxess had the privilege of chatting with K.K. and getting  the inside scoop on not only the new book but all his adventures in Judas Priest over the years including his at times strained relationship with Tipton.   Please join us for a conversation with heavy metal legend, K.K. Downing.

We would like to thank Lissa Warren for setting up the interview with K.K. For more information on K.K. including the new book ” Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest,” please go here: K.K. Downing .

About The Author Kris Engelhart

I am a small business owner, freelance writer, and part-time piano instructor in Charlotte, NC. My musical career started at the age of five when I was forced into taking piano lessons. I played flute in the school band and added the guitar as a young teen. There is nothing I would rather do than be at a live show. My first concert was Shaun Cassidy at the Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo in 1978. My top five live shows ever are: 1. Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band – Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, NY 1984- They played for 3 ½ hours and it was awesome. 2. Carolina Rebellion- Metrolina Expo Grounds, Charlotte, NC, May, 2011 – The first ever Carolina Rebellion featured over 15 bands with Avenged Sevenfold headlining. Non-stop music for over 12 hours. 3. Chevelle- Food Lion Speed Street, Charlotte, NC, May, 2008 - The first time I ever saw Chevelle live and I was hooked! 4. Skillet with Red- Bojangle’s Coliseum, Charlotte, NC, April, 2010 – Skillet is one of my favorite bands and they totally kick it live. 5. 106.5 The End’s Weenie Roast #9- Verizon Wireless Amiptheater, Charlotte, NC , October, 2003- Featured Staind, Shinedown, Three Days Grace.