Former Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing says he has been approached to join several rock supergroups but has always turned them down.
The heavy metal icon, who left Judas Priest in acrimonious circumstances in 2011, told Eonmusic he has had a number of conversations with musicians about forming supergroups, however he’s cautious about the idea.
Commenting on his working life, K.K. said: “I spend just as much time having conversations and sending emails backwards and forwards with musicians, really, who are trying to get me to do something.”
Pushed about who has contacted him, K.K. responded: “It probably wouldn’t be fair to give the names, but it’s probably no secret that Paul Crook, who’s Meat Loaf’s guitar player and producer, Paul’s a great guy and a very good guitar player, and he wanted me to do something with (ex-Judas Priest drummer) Les Binks, and with Ripper (Tim 'Ripper' Owens), and Joey Vera, who’s a great bass player. But I’m not ready yet.”
Explaining why, he continued: “There’s been quite a lot of others (who have been in touch), and I’m still talking to some people. A lot of people out there are thinking; ‘Oh yeah, this would be great; I’m from this band, my good mate is from that really well-known band, if we get K.K.’… We’re talking about the formation of a supergroup, which doesn’t really work these days.
“You get four or five guys from different bands; what songs are you going to play? What is the image of the band? There’s no real credentials; you’ve got a bit from this band, that band and the other band, but collectively, it doesn’t really have substance.”
Judas Priest perform in 2009 © Getty
Confirming he has “kind of dismissed it”, K.K. added: “It’s so difficult. I’ve been doing this a long time with one band, and I’m far too seasoned now – that means I’m old! – to, one, want to start over again, and, two, to be in a hybrid band.
“It doesn’t really work for me, so I’m having to tread very carefully. Some of these guys think we could make a great sound together - and I’m sure that we would - but you have to think; you’ve got mouths to feed, so you’d want management, record label, accountants, crew.
“And a lot of the people, they’re in different countries. When me, Ian and Rob got together, everybody was from the local area. Even Glenn was from Halesowen, which is about seven miles from where I was born, and Glenn was the furthest one away! That’s the way it was in those days. Now one’s in Nashville, one’s in Germany, so how this all works is quite difficult, really!”
Despite turning down supergroups, K.K. said he tentatively ready to dip his toes into the music world once again.
“I have recently set up my music room and everything is poised, ready to go,” K.K. said. “But I’m a bit fussy. If I played with another guitar player, I’d like to play with someone who’s really quite well-schooled, musically, as in, the guys in Racer X, for example, so you can actually talk what you want to do - you don’t have to show people.
“It’s a language, isn’t it, and I’ve never played with anybody that I couldn’t talk the language too. It’s a lot easier to experiment with parts if you can actually talk the language. It’s a lot quicker to do that when you’re experimenting.”
Last month K.K. sold his 1967 Flying V guitar for a whopping £150,000 at Bonham’s auction house in London; 10 times its asking price of £15,000 to £18,000.
K.K. sold a total of 11 guitars under the hammer including a 1971 Gibson Flying V Medallion that fetched £81,000.
The guitarist's explosive, no holds barred autobiography ‘Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest’ was released last year.