Back in December, legendary British heavy metal band Judas Priestannounced their plans for a Farewell Tour, called The Farewell EPITAPH World Tour, which would lead to their retirement. The tour would take the band on the road through 2011 and into part of 2012.
Since that announcement, it seemed that the Metal Gods weren’t totally calling it quits, with the news of a new album in the future.
Today comes word from the Priest camp that guitarist K.K. Downing has formally retired from the band and will not be joining them on the upcoming EPITAPH world tour.
It is with regret that Judas Priest announce that K.K. DOWNING has formally retired from the band and will therefore not be joining them on their forthcoming EPITAPH Tour.
The band respect his decision and naturally all wish him well.
The band — which consists of singer Rob Halford, guitarist Glenn Tipton, bassist Ian Hill, and drummer Scott Travis — will proceed with their plans for the EPITAPH tour with 31-year-old British guitarist Richie Faulkner* stepping in for Downing.
Fate also stepped in and delivered the perfect replacement – 31-year-old British guitar player Richie Faulkner – He has blended into the band perfectly and is a great talent who is going to help set the stage on fire!
On this tour, the band will be playing songs from every Priest studio album, including some that have never before been performed on stage, and promises to have a great stage show.
With a new album due to be released next year the Metal Gods are preparing to tour the planet once more – heavy metal at its best complete with lasers, lights, bikes, and hellfire!! It’s a show not to be missed!!
The British guitarist and songwriter turns 59 this year. Along with bassist Ian Hill, Downing co-founded Judas Priest in 1968 and has been with the band ever since, playing on every one of their albums, including 16 studio albums and several live releases. He’s also been a main songwriter along with singer Rob Halford and fellow guitarist Glenn Tipton. Downing and Tipton are renown in the metal world for their twin-axe attack approach to guitar solos and harmonies in Priest tunes.
Downing’s retirement from the band sparks the question as to whether Priest will actually go through with their plans to retire from the road for good after this tour.
While I’m glad the band will continue on with this tour, as they’re amazing live and I look forward to seeing them perform for possibly the final time, I will miss Downing greatly. I’ve seen Priest many times over the last few decades, and always I make it a point if possible to get seats on Downing’s side of the stage. To me, he was an integral part of the band, especially in the live environment, and he’s one of my favorite guitar players of all time. If he changes his mind and decides to tour with Priest again, I would be thrilled. Otherwise, I’ll have to continue to relish my copy of Priest Live, which has been in heavy rotation in my car for a decade (I never tire of it!!!).
To K.K. Downing, may you enjoy your retirement, you’ve certainly earned it. Thanks for all the years of great headbanging metal, live music, and awesome guitar solos. Your contributions will be greatly missed.
Long live the Priest!
*Update: There’s no mention of who Richie Faulkner is in the press release, but I do believe this is the guitarist for the Lauren Harris [daughter of Iron Maiden bassist, Steve Harris] band, which toured with Iron Maiden. Looks-wise, Faulkner fits the Downing mold, as he’s a cross between a young Downing and Randy Rhoads and his playing is phenomenal. I got to see him in action on an Iron Maiden tour (where I had front row seats, thank you!) and he’s an amazing showman. Best of luck to him with Priest, we’ll be cheering for him!