K.K. Downing left Judas Priest this week. He´s been with the band from the very start. The twin guitar solos with band mate Glenn Tipton sat new standards for how heavy metal should sound. He has posted this statement regarding his retirement:
It is with much regret that I will not be with you this summer. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your concerns about my health. Please rest assured that I am O.K.
There has been an ongoing breakdown in working relationship between myself, elements of the band, and the band's management for some time.
Therefore I have decided to step down rather than to tour with negative sentiments as I feel that this would be a deception to you, our cherished fans.
However I would urge you to please support the Priest as I have no doubt that it will be a show not to be missed.
All my love and respect."
His solos have remained of this style for most of his career, but he has incorporated various techniques into his playing over the years. As opposed to Tipton, his solos tend to incorporate a more raw, rough-edged sound, making use of techniques like pinch harmonies, dive bombs and tremolo picking, and often focus on speed, technical accuracy and melody.
In 1978, Tipton began to incorporatetapping into his playing, which Downing promptly began to use as well. By 1990, both guitarists started to use the complex technique of sweap-picking, which can be notably heard on "Painkiller". Both have continuously used these techniques ever since.
Notable guitar solos are on such tracks as "Victim of Changes", the 2nd solo in "Beyond the Realms of Death", "Before The Dawn", "Sinner", "Don't Go", the 2nd solo in "Painkiller", and the live version of "Breaking The Law". Notable guitar duels are on such tracks as "Hellrider", "The Sentinel", "Ram It Down", "Metal Meltdown" and "Screaming For Vengeance".
In Judas Priest's early years, Downing made common use of thewah-wah pedal but began to limit his use of it in the late '70s, and had abandoned use of it by the mid-'80s, save for during live performances of the songs that originally featured it. The only time since then that he has renewed use of it was in 1996, when vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens joined the band, and they began to experiment with their music more than before on "Jugulator" and "Demolition".
K.K. Downing will be missed in the heavy metal world. But, as always with musicans, the music lives on!