Through most of his 40-plus years as guitarist for the iconic British heavy metal band Judas Priest, Ken “K.K.” Downing lived the rock star life.
Now the metal legend is telling his story in a new autobiography, Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest.
Together with writer Mark Eglinton, Downing takes readers on a visceral journey from his impoverished childhood to the biggest stages in the world. In a vivid and often emotional recounting, the guitarist discusses all the highs and lows of his career with Judas Priest, from album cycles and touring to the inner-band battles with an up-and-coming Iron Maiden. Downing also pulls no punches in describing the events that led up to his departure from Priest following the band’s acclaimed 2008 double album, Nostradamus.
Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest will be released on September 18 by Da Capo Press.
Guitar World recently spoke with Downing about his new book, the legacy of Judas Priest and much more in this exclusive new interview.
What made you decide to write a book at this stage of your career?
So many people have been asking me about it and one day I just felt like it was the right time. I worked with Mark Eglinton, who’d recently done a biography with Rex Brown from Pantera. It was a chronological tour of my life. Mark would call me up and put up scenarios and then ask me what I remembered about them. It was quite a journey, to be fair, opening those locked doors and closets. It was also kind of emotional at times, going back through my life.
Judas Priest songs like “Living After Midnight,” “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ ” and “Painkiller” are iconic. Did you have any clue how special they would become when you were writing them?
I often think about that. When Pink Floyd was writing Dark Side of the Moon, they had no clue what they were creating. They were just doing the best they could at the time. That’s what we had always done. We worked hard and were very prolific just grinding away. In the beginning, I’d often say we may not be the best band, but if we stuck together and kept working away, one day we could achieve exactly what we wanted.
In the book, you mention about how, in the early days, Rob Halford was really starting to come into his own as a vocalist, and how everyone in the band had to stay on their game so another band wouldn’t come in and scoop him up.
I felt that we needed to have the right band members to stay the course. When Rob came on board, he was very outgoing and a flamboyant showman. I thought, This guy’s got such a great voice. He’s always going to sing and always going to put on a show, and I was right about that!
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Interview with K.K. Downing by Clicking Here!