Mark Eglinton is a best-selling author and biographer with an uncanny ability to perfectly capture a subject’s voice on the written page. His musical accomplishments include co-writes with such artists as Pantera bassist Rex Brown, and his acclaimed 2017 biography on James Hetfield, “So Let It Be Written,” used exclusive, firsthand interviews to construct a definitive account of the life of the Metallica frontman.
Eglinton’s latest project teams him up with former Judas Priest guitarist, Ken “K.K.” Downing for Downing’s insightful new autobiography, “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest.” In it, Downing takes readers on a journey from his impoverished childhood to some of the biggest stages in the world. Along the way, Downing gives an emotional recounting of his life and discusses all the highs and lows of his career, including a re-telling of events that led to his departure from the Priest following their epic 2008 double album, Nostradamus.
AXS recently spoke with Mark Eglinton about “Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest,” and more in this exclusive new interview.
AXS: When did the idea for doing a biography with K.K. Downing originate?
Mark Eglinton: The first contact was somewhere around 2015. I’d seen interviews with K.K. and always thought he was a soft-spoken, sensitive guy who had a good story to tell. At the time, K.K. was involved in his business, so getting time with him was difficult. We were limited to talking on weekends, where we got to know each other. The initial feedback was really good and from there the project was on.
AXS: As a music fan, tell me about your relationship with Judas Priest.
ME: Priest was one of the first bands I became aware of when I started listening to heavy music. I was at boarding school and was struggling with being homesick. Another guy who was a few years older than me gave me a tape with some music on it to keep me going. On that tape, among other things, was music from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Free, Boston, and a track from Sad Wings of Destiny called “Victim Of Changes.” It was something I’d never heard before. From that point on, I started digging into Priest. I’ve always been a fan of the band and K.K.’s part in it. He’s so down to earth and the same guy no matter how good or bad things are going.
AXS: What did you love most about their music when you listened to that tape?
ME: The darkness. I loved Boston’s “More Than A Feeling.” Those harmonies were a whole new world, and it was the same with the good-time feeling of Skynyrd. But Priest had something else. Sad Wings of Destiny had darkness and space. You could hear all of the instruments and it sounded so great. Those early Priest albums had the ability to conjure a world that really appealed to me at that point in my life.
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