In a new interview with Sonic Perspectives contributor Robert Cavuoto, JUDAS PRIEST a singer Rob Halford I was asked what it was like to find the original PRIEST guitarist KK Downing for a performance at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony last November. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “It’s wonderful. You hear stories about groups that have their differences and then come together for special events like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and it is as if it had always been there; it’s as if the temporal element of who we are and what we do in music ceases to exist. Kind of like when I came back to PRIEST after my 10 or 12 years of interruption, you continue. You carry on because the music transports you to the very essence of continuing. Everything revolves around music. And so, when we launched these classic songs together, it was great; it seemed complete in the sense of what we were trying to achieve that night. And it roared.”
Halford went on to say that he had “not yet seen” a video of PRIESTit is rock room induction. “People say, ‘Have you ever watched the performance?’ It reminds me Maggie Smith of this great British TV show (‘Downton Abbey’). They asked Maggie Smith, ‘Are you watching your performance?’ (She said no. I was there. I did it. So why would I want to see it again? So there’s a bit of that,” he said.
“I’ll tell you – it was over so fast. That’s what I remember, if anything, it was so fast. It took so long to get to that moment, and the eight minutes and the change that we had to do the job that we had to do ended in a flash. And then we were all sitting in the locker room after having a bite to eat and saying, ‘Did this happen? Were we there?” And then my (singing) climax with (colleague rock room inducted) Dolly Parton and meet all these other wonderful people. I never knew Pink was a fan, and all these great talents that are out of the metal world, but, again, (this is) proof that music has no barriers; it has no walls. We like each other in our musical projects for various reasons.
“So it was just a big, big moment for PRIEST and a great, great time for rock and roll,” Rob added.
PRIEST received the musical excellence award last year rock roomwho honored Eminem, Dolly Parton, DURAN-DURAN, Lionel Richie, Pat Benatar, EURYTHMIC and carly simon in the Performers category.
The JUDAS PRIEST members who have been inducted include current members Halford (singing),Ian Hill (low),Glenn Tipton (guitar) and Scott Travis (drums), with former members downing (guitar),The Binks (drums) and deceased drummer david holland.
Halford, Hill, Tipton and Travis were joined by Binks, downing and current PRIEST guitarist Richie Faulkner for a three-song medley of “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”, “Break the law” and “Living After Midnight”.
In a December 2022 interview with Metal Talk, downing reflected on his reunion with his former bandmates at the rock room induction. The 71-year-old guitarist, who sat at the same table at the induction ceremony as the other PRIEST musicians at the event, said he spoke with Travis and was able to “break the bread” with Halford and Hill. He also exchanged a few pleasantries with Tiptonwith whom he had shared a stage for decades, and Faulknerwho replaced him in 2011.
About what it was like to talk and play with Faulkner, downing said: “Yes, I managed to chat with him, and we shared the stage and even stuck together. It could have been awkward, but it was not. I have nothing but respect for him , and I know he is working on other projects outside PRIESTand I wish her luck.” He added with a laugh, “The only potentially awkward moments were because I like a lot of space and I always ran around the stage, and we had to avoid each other.”
Last month, JUDAS PRIESTlongtime manager Jayne Andrewssay it “Chat with Girlfriends” podcast who PRIESTthe reunion with downing “was a bit strange” because K.K. “just kept to himself. Even when he got on stage with the band (to play the rock room), he didn’t really communicate much with anyone,” she said.
andrew went on to say that downing missed an opportunity “to try to build bridges” with his former bandmates, adding that K.K. “could have stuck my head out the door ‘into the dressing room’ and said, ‘Thank you for inviting me on stage with you. “” She also said that he K.K. “seemed a little nervous and almost out of his depth” during the rock room performance.
In November, Halford was asked in an interview with current San Antonio if playing with downing to rock room ceremony helped put aside some of the acrimony that K.K. showed he was not in the band on recent tours. Halford replied, “I think we should let the music speak for itself, really, because as you’ll see in the performance, you’ll see all that other stuff is irrelevant. All the stuff that’s been said and suggestions are just floating in the air. What matters is what’s happening on that stage when you’re playing together. And here he is on my right. It was like he was always there. Look behind me and there is (The), and the memories are simply overwhelming. But, more than that, you’re focused on when you’re together again and playing live. It was truly a whirlwind. We were in each other’s company for a very, very short time. We had very little time to communicate. But for the purpose of induction of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame together, it was absolutely crucial that K.K. and The were there. They were inducted, they had to be in the room. And more than that, we were thrilled that they took the opportunity to say, ‘Yes, we’ll be back playing on stage with you guys.'”
In a separate interview with Lauren “Lern” Elwell of KSHE radio station, Halford said it was “good” to play with downing and Binks to rock room. He added: “We hadn’t seen (downing) for all time. And I haven’t looked at the pictures of that yet. All I remember are my brief interactions with K.K., because I always run around on stage like a crazy drag queen. My interactions with Ken and with The, It was great. It was wonderful to have this moment together after so long. And that just shows you the power, the weight, the vibe that the rock room suggests that you try to try. Try to find something of the essence that is really part of why you are here, why you are inducted. I was so happy that Ken and The showed up, because they needed to be there. It was entirely their choice, but I said it made perfect sense if you’re in the room and we’re playing together. And we did, and it was magic.”
downing left PRIEST in 2011 amid allegations of tape conflict, mismanagement and declining performance quality.
In 2019, downing said he reached out to JUDAS PRIEST to perform on the band’s 50th anniversary tour, but their response was that they weren’t 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 former was described as “a graceful exit note, involving a smooth retreat from the music”, while the latter was “angrier, laying out all his frustrations with specific evenings”.
downing later said he thought the second letter was “a key reason” he wasn’t invited to join PRIEST after Tiptonthe decision to retire from touring.
JUDAS PRIEST was on the ballot for rock room induction in 2020, but did not receive enough votes to promote that year.
Inducted since 1999, PRIEST was also on the ballot for the class of 2018 of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famebut was ultimately dropped from the list of inductees.