K.K. Downing Reacts to Judas Priest’s Rock Hall Induction Nod for Musical Excellence Award
Judas Priest will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the recipients of the Musical Excellence Award and former guitarist K.K. Downing has responded to the honor, saying he is "delighted" but unsure of if or how he will participate in the induction ceremony later this year.
In 2011, Downing, a co-founding member of Judas Priest dating back to 1970, stepped away from the legendary metal group in which he and dueling axeman Glenn Tipton helped define the genre for decades. In short, there's acrimony on both sides after Downing levied damning accusations toward his former bandmates and, with Tipton on the sidelines when it comes to touring, he's none too pleased with a non-invite to rejoin.
Obviously, that puts a lot of added attention on Judas Priest come November 5, when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
Since the band received the Musical Excellence Award, they are not expected to be part of the performance category, meaning any live performance by Judas Priest, apart from perhaps the all-star jam that traditionally takes place at each ceremony's conclusion, would come as a complete surprise.
Speaking with EonMusic, Downing, who will turn 71 just a couple weeks before the ceremony takes place, commented on finally being enshrined, "It’s one of those things... it was like the Grammy — when you get nominated that amount of times and don’t win, when you actually do win, it takes the edge off it a bit, because you’ve failed a lot of times. But it’s better to score the goal at the end of the game! [laughs]"
When it was suggested that he'd appear onstage alongside Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill, Scott Travis and possibly former drummer Les Binks (Dave Holland will be posthumously inducted), Downing was hesitant and did not commit to any particular plans. "I’m not sure, really," he said of being onstage to receive the award with everyone else, "I hadn’t thought about that. Is that going to happen, is it? I think it’s November, and a lot can happen between now and then, mate!"
About what it means to finally be an entrant in the Hall after first becoming eligible in 1999, Downing shared, "I’m particularly delighted because as far as I know, the nominees when we failed last time were me, Glenn, Ian, and Rob, and Scott, and Les Binks and Dave Holland. In that case, I’m really quite delighted for my buddies, really — Les and Dave, bless him, even though he’s not here."
"Obviously, a lot of cherished memories, a lot of gigs together," he went on, "They were an integral part for a long time. Dave did a lot — from British Steel  onwards, and when you think about it, it’s quite a while, through to Ram it Down ; through the period of the wonderful decade of the eighties, it was the glory times! Like I say, I’m pleased for Dave, and Les, really. Les was there on those important albums as well."
After years of musical inactivity following his departure from Judas Priest, Downing reemerged with KK's Priest in 2020, followed by last year's debut record Sermons of the Sinner. In the band, he links up with ex-Judas Priest singer Tim "Ripper" Owens and Binks, though Binks' role within the band has been slippery.