K.K. Downing Chose Golf Over Judas Priest?

(Gibson) 2011 may turn out to be the most memorable year in the four-decade history of Judas Priest. First, Rob Halford and company announced their farewell "Epitaph" tour. Then, just before they embarked on the two-year trek, founding member K.K. Downing abruptly quit the band. The group managed to recruit a new guitarist, Richie Faulkner, to take his place and has since launched the tour. But even so, the tour itself has not been without confusion, with the metal gods backpedalling a bit about its "finality."

Wolverhampton's Express and Star caught up with bassist and founding member Ian Hill to discuss the state of the metal mega-group, including the is-this-or-isn't-this-a-farewell status of the Epitaph tour. Regarding Downing's departure from the band, Hill admitted he was shocked when it happened. Part of the reasoning behind the decision, he reckoned, was due to the guitarist's newly built golf course in Shropshire, England.

"It came as bombshell to all of us," he said. "I think Ken had just had enough. He'd got a lot on his plate with his golf course and I think he couldn't spend the time away. This tour's going to be—by the time it's wrapped up—the best part of two years. It's a long, long time to be away from things and I just think Ken couldn't handle the time away.

"I'll always be a friend of Ken's and I'm sure he'll always be a friend of mine. Still waters run deep and we've been together as colleagues and friends since we were about five years old. We went through school and everything together." more on this story

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