Former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing will join ex-MANOWAR axeman Ross "The Boss" Friedman for several songs at this year's Bloodstock Open Air festival on August 11 at Catton Park, Derbyshire, United Kingdom. This will be K.K.'s first public performance since October 17, 2009 when JUDAS PRIEST played the final "British Steel 30th Anniversary" date on the "Nostradamus" world tour at Japan's Loud Park festival in Chiba City, Japan.
Asked by The Metal Voice is he is nervous about performing again after such a long time away from the stage, Downing said (hear audio below): "Absolutely not. It's just like riding a bike. It's not as though I haven't played guitar since quitting the band; I have. Once you learn those chops and you've toured extensively over the years — dare I say decades — it's very easy to do. But having said that, I'm always up for a challenge. And as much as the anticipation would be for probably me to jump up on there and play some PRIEST stuff, I said to Ross just earlier today, I said, 'I'm open to any suggestions, really. Let's just meet up and let's set up a jam the day before and let's see what we feel like doing. If we can mix it up and bring something a bit different to the table, it's all well and good. But we'll make those decisions when we get together and do the handshake and put the guitars on and have a blast, really, and, as I said, just jam it out."
Pressed about why it has taken him so long to perform live again following his split with PRIEST, Downing replied: "To be honest, the frank answer would be I really was expecting that at some point, there would be a willingness and an opportunity for everyone involved for me to step back in the band. You know what bandmembers are like — lots of things are said in haste, lots of things go down, inevitably. It's a relationship. So it's tough to hold together, for whatever reasons, but I thought probably at some point, it would be inevitable that a time would come around that would be my time to potentially re-enter the band and carry on where we left off. But it's proved not to be the case, so, obviously, I have to accept that and just move forward. So I'm looking forward to the opportunity immensely. And I do extend my gratitude to Ross and the band for inviting me up to special guest."
K.K. added: "The one thing I like about Ross and the band is, obviously, they're full-on metal, they're true blue, they're dedicated and it's good to be on stage with people that, obviously, not only think like me, people that have played like me through the decades."
Downing left PRIEST in 2011 amid claims of band conflict, shoddy management and declining quality of performance. He was replaced by Richie Faulkner, nearly three decades his junior.
Last summer, Downing revealed that he sent two resignation letters to his bandmates when he decided to quit JUDAS PRIEST. The first was described as "a graceful exit note, implying a smooth retirement from music," while the second was "angrier, laying out all of his frustrations with specific parties."
Downing later said that he believed the second letter was "a key reason" he wasn't invited to rejoin PRIEST after Glenn Tipton's decision to retire from touring.
Downing's autobiography, "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest", was released in September via Da Capo Press.
A founding member of MANOWAR, Ross recorded six albums with the band before leaving after 1988's "Kings Of Metal".
ROSS THE BOSS is currently recording its new album for a 2020 release via AFM Records.
The band's latest album, "By Blood Sworn", was released last year to critical acclaim.