Former JUDAS PRIEST singer Tim “Ripper” Owens has defended Kenneth “K.K.” Downing over the comments the ex-PRIEST guitarist made about his former bandmates in his recently released autobiography, explaining that Downing is “just telling the truth.”
K.K. departed the iconic band eight years ago, but looked back on his time with the British metal titans in “Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest”, which came out last September. The book, which was written with collaborator Mark Eglinton, covers all of the behind-the-scenes turbulence that led to Downing‘s exit from PRIEST, including his strained relationship with guitarist Glenn Tipton and his gripes with certain managerial decisions.
During a January 10 appearance on SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation”, Owens said that Downing had every right to tell his story, including insider details on band collaborations and machinations.
“If you want a book, you tell all,” Owens said. “I was around. I know what Ken‘s talking about. So it’s not like he’s fabricating stuff. People keep saying that’s all he talks about [in interviews promoting the book]. No, he’s not. People are interviewing him and asking him about the book. He’s answering the questions that people are asking. It is what it is. I was there. I saw things happen. I saw how it ran. I saw how the band ran. And I’m not complaining about it; I was treated great. But I did see how it was run. And from what I see, he’s not lying about stuff; he’s just telling the truth.”
According to Owens, Downing isn’t bitter about the fact that he is no longer a member of PRIEST.
“I talked to Ken, and he had nothing but great things to say about [his replacement in PRIEST] Richie [Faulkner] and even the band,” Tim continued. “When I sat down with him a few months back — this was before the book was written, but he wasn’t in the band [anymore] — he spoke great about everybody and especially Richie. So that’s just the way it is.”
K.K., 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 2011.
A few months ago, Downing told Rolling Stone that he tried talking things out with Tipton to let his bandmate know what was bothering him about their working relationship before Downing exited PRIEST. “I did when it came to his drinking before and during the gig,” K.K. said. “That didn’t get me anywhere. It just made me nervous, because I’m a beer drinker and I know I couldn’t do that. It seemed to be slowing the show down as well.”
Downing confirmed that PRIEST‘s roadies tried to limit Glenn‘s alcohol intake by watering down his beer during live performances. “I just hated going on every night and wondering, ‘Are we together here?'” K.K. said. “It made me so fucking nervous. It wasn’t funny. Ripper [who was singing for PRIEST at the time] used to come over and tug at my stage clothes and say, ‘Do something.’ I’d go, ‘I’m playing the guitar, mate. I can’t do anything.’ Not that anybody probably noticed. I stopped enjoying playing. It got to me.”
Downing also said that he thought Tipton was controlling band decisions, such as when PRIEST toured. Asked if he ever discussed that with Glenn, Downing said: “The thing was, so much of it went on [behind the scenes], and we knew, but there was never any kind of proof. You can’t make an issue out of something you can’t back up. For the most part, it was done in a certain way. You knew it was done, but you couldn’t make an issue out of it. Sadly.”
Downing claimed that the other members of JUDAS PRIEST felt pretty much the same way as he did about Glenn‘s control issues, which is why K.K. thought it was odd that he wasn’t approached to rejoin the band following Tipton‘s decision to retire from the road due to his battle with Parkinson’s disease. “Yeah, because they all knew my problem was with Glenn with the beer drinking and the decision-making with him and [management],” Downing said. “I was just tired of it. I felt like I was working a nine-to-five job and the other guys felt the same. There’s no doubt in my mind their preference would have been to have me in the band, because why wouldn’t you?”
PRIEST recruited Owens in 1996 and released two studio albums, 1997’s “Jugulator” and 2001’s “Demolition”, before reuniting with Rob Halford in 2003.