JUDAS PRIEST bassist Ian Hill has clarified his recent comments in which he implied that none of the band’s fans are missing former PRIEST guitarist Kenneth “K.K.” Downing.
Downing, who is a founding member of the British heavy metal legends and was part of the group since 1969, announced his retirement from PRIEST in April. He has since been replaced by Richie Faulkner, most recently guitarist in the backing band for Lauren Harris (daughter of IRON MAIDEN bassist Steve Harris).
When the San Antonio Examiner asked Hill last month about how Faulkner is working out on the group’s current tour, Ian said, “Richie is an altogether great talent. An absolutely excellent guitarist. He does what Ken did, plus his own little traits. He’s a great performer and character. We’ve been really lucky to find him. Even the way we found him — we weren’t even looking. [laughs] Someone (else) was going to take over for Ken, and they couldn’t do it, and it was him. You find what you can. We had a chat with him and gave him a go, and thank God. The crowd is taking to him well, and with all due respect to Ken, no one’s missing him. [laughs] No one’s asking about Ken.”
Earilier this month, Patrick Prince of Powerline questioned Hill about getting flak some of the PRIEST fans for suggesting that none of them are interested in seeing the departed axeman return to the group.
“Well, somebody comes up to you and says, ‘Anybody missing Kenny?’ You can’t say, ‘Well, of course we are. We’re on tour and we ain’t as good as our last tour, so I won’t bother showing up if I were you,” he said. “I mean, that’s what you’re saying, you know. I mean, I’ll say it again. People watching the band, okay, what Richie puts into it, there’s nothing missing. I mean, I did get flak for saying nobody misses Ken. I mean, he’s a lifelong friend. Of course I miss him. But the fan … if you’re listening to the song and you just close your eyes and listen to it. It could be Ken playing up there. And of course Richie puts his own angle on things as well. He’s a very very talented bloke … and I’ll probably get flak for that now as well (laughs).”
Hill also said that he believed his previous comments were taken out of context. “When somebody says that sort of thing, ‘Is he as good as Ken?’ ‘Nah, he’s not as good as Ken, no.’ You can’t say something like that,” he said. “He’s at least as good as Ken. It’s true of the written word. If we’re talking here like this, okay, you can see my face, I’m chuckling or whatever when I say something. When it’s written down — anything that’s written down — is open to interpretation.”
When asked if if it was weird playing and not seeing K.K. on the stage, Hill said, “It was at first. Of course it was. I mean, Ken‘s been an immense part of the band for the last forty years or so. But now, Ken left nearly a year ago now. He told us just before Christmas last year. We kept it quiet. We were convinced we could convince him to come back, to change his mind. And we had to start looking and we got Richie and we said to Richie, ‘Listen, Ken might come back but if he doesn’t, you’ve got the job.’ And he must have been bursting to tell somebody. But we actually got to the point where we had to get visas and we had to get flights booked and things like that. So, we said, ‘Ken, it’s your last chance, mate.’ and, of course he was adamant that he wanted to retire, so… And that’s when we had to announce Richie. And you’ll see, when you see the live show. I mean, he’s absolutely unbelievable . We’ve been extremely lucky finding him. He’s a brilliant talent, he really is. And he fills Ken‘s boots really well.”
Read the entire interview from Powerline.