Earlier this month, Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton announced his retirement from touring with the legendary heavy metal band due to his recent Parkinson's disease diagnosis. The group has since tapped co-producer Andy Sneap as the axeman's replacement, but not everyone's thrilled by the decision. In fact, in the eyes of K.K. Downing — Judas Priest's co-founding guitarist who retired from the band in 2011 — Sneap's enlistment scans as a head-scratching omission at best, and a show of under-appreciation at worst.
"I am shocked and stunned that I wasn't approached to step into my original role as guitarist for Judas Priest," Downing writes in a new blog post. "Whether I could have stepped back into the band or not, the potential for this situation arising never entered my head when I departed — although I too am officially and legally still a member of Judas Priest."
"However," he continues, "I know now more clearly than ever that I did the right thing by leaving the band when I did — as it seems that my time spent in the band, and my value in terms of crafting its huge legacy, was and is unappreciated by more than one member. I sincerely hope, for the fans' sake, that the decision not to approach me was not a financial one."
Hurt feelings aside, Downing and Sneap don't share any bad blood. "He [Sneap] is one of the greatest contributors to rock and metal that you will ever have the privilege to meet," reassures Tipton. "To that end, I have no doubt that his contribution to the new Judas Priest album was much more than just as a producer. All that's left is for you, the fans, to go out and enjoy the band as it is, in order to complete a part of music history in which every one of you has played such an important role."
Downing played with Judas Priest for over forty years before departing the band in April 2011 for personal reasons. "I just wasn't enjoying it any more; a lot of things had changed" he said of his exit in a 2013 interview with the Midlands Rocks. "I think I counted about 30 reasons why I didn't want to do it at the time, and that is an awful lot of reasons. In all honesty, I think that in so many respects, it had run its course."