Longtime Judas Priest member K.K. Downing returned to the live stage for the first time in nearly 10 years over the weekend. The legendary guitarist joined Ross the Boss onstage for a handful of Priest songs at the Bloodstock festival in Derbyshire, England.
Downing officially parted ways with Judas Priest in 2011, but his last gig with the band took place October 17th, 2009 at Japan’s Loud Park festival. The guitarist, who had been with Priest for more than 40 years, had originally cited a retirement from the music industry as the reason for his exit from the band. However, last year, he admitted he had frustrations with the group, and actually had sent an angrier second resignation letter to the band that may have ruined his chances of returning to the iconic metal outfit.
At Bloodstock on Sunday (August 11th), Downing performed with Ross the Boss — the eponymous band led by guitarist “Ross the Boss” Friedman, onetime member of both Manowar and The Dictators. Together, they rocked four Priest classics: “Green Manalishi”, “Heading Out On The Highway”, “Breaking the Law”, and “Running Wild”.
Prior to taking the stage, Downing issued a statement, saying, “I’m really delighted and really looking forward to sharing the stage with Ross the Boss and saying hello to all our fans together. For me, as you know, it’s been far too long, so I sincerely hope to see as many familiar faces as possible at this truly unique event. True metal for true metal fans at the U.K.’s truest metal festival. United we stand!”
When the performance was over, Downing sat down with The Unchained Rock Show (via Blabbermouth), revealing, “Originally, I was just meant to pick up an award here. And the guys said, ‘Well, you’re gonna get on a stage. You think you wanna put a guitar on?’ And I said, ‘I’m not Ed Sheeran. I’m not gonna go busking on a bloody stage…. I know — what about jumping on with Ross?””
Downing also said the whole thing “was a bit of a whirlwind,” and that they didn’t have too much time to rehearse, leading to “quite a bit of improvisation in there.”
Watch footage of Downing’s performance with Ross the Boss at Bloodstock festival below.