WORLD EXCLUSIVE: It's official: Judas Priest will be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame 2022. The Midlands’ metal legends will receive the Musical Excellence Award at the event, which will also honour Eminem, Dolly Parton, Duran Duran, Lionel Richie, Pat Benatar, Eurythmics and Carly Simon in the Performers category. With the news arriving, we caught up with founding guitarist K.K. Downing for a chat about the honour. Delivering the goods; Eamon O’Neill
Hi K.K., first off, congratulations on your forthcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; it’s been a long time coming, hasn’t it?
It’s been a lifetime mate; I’m nearly dead! [laughing]
How did you learn the news?
I had an email from the management last night.
How does it feel to have made it?
Yeah, it’s one of those things, I think; it was like the Grammy; when you get nominated that amount of times and don’t win, when you actually do win, it takes the edge off it a bit, because you’ve failed a lot of times. But it’s better to score the goal at the end of the game! [laughing]
You’ll be able to stand with your brothers in music to receive the award; that must feel like a real triumph?
I’m not sure, really. I hadn’t thought about that. Is that going to happen, is it? I think it’s November, and a lot can happen between now and then, mate!
Are you thinking about possibly strapping on the guitar and possibly playing with the guys again?
I thought about it briefly, when we were nominated, what would happen. But like I say, it's November and a lot of things can happen between now and then, especially with men of an age like us. But I think it’s just a question of seeing how everything lies when it comes to them, really, because a lot of things can happen between now and then; a lot of things could get better, but they could get worse, or stay the same, you never know, do you?
What does it mean to you?
I’m particularly delighted because as far as I know, the nominees when we failed last time were me, Glenn [Tipton, guitar], Ian [Hill, bass] and Rob [Halford, vocals], and Scott [Travis, drums], and [former members] Les Binks and Dave Holland. In that case, I’m really quite delighted for my buddies, really; Les and Dave, bless him, even though he’s not here [Dave passed away on 16th January 2018). Obviously, a lot of cherished memories, a lot of gigs together, you know. They were an integral part for a long time. Dave did a lot; from ‘British Steel’  onwards, and when you think about it, it’s quite a while, through to ‘Ram it Down’ ; through the period of the wonderful decade of the eighties, it was the glory times! Like I say, I’m pleased for Dave, and Les, really. Les was there on those important albums as well.
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Since the USA took to Priest in the eighties, does it mean a lot to receive this recognition from that side of the pond?
Well America, obviously it’s such a huge country, and it was so important for most bands. I think most bands, probably 90% of their income was generated from America; sales and tours, and if you put Canada together, it certainly was a massive, massive territory. But yeah, it’s been a wonderful experience, and to have been a part of the whole evolution of what we know today, I feel very blessed to have born in 1951! [Laughing]. We’re very, very lucky to have been witness to everything that we know today because at the very beginning, there was pop and classical and jazz, and there was a bit of rock and roll, but that was different; it was Bill Hailey, and Cliff Richard and the Shadows, and Elvis, and now look what there is today. So we’ve come a long way for sure.
It must have been great to read some positive headlines where you and the band are concerned, this morning.
Oh yeah, absolutely. Well the thing is, we lived a life together, and we were family. I mean, you’d have to say that because we spent more time with each other than we did with our families for the most part. So obviously, the legacy and the name; we grew up, men and boys, fighting in the trenches, as it were. It was tough, so yeah, I’m immensely proud of the achievements, and everything that we achieved together, and you know, I’m always a great ambassador for the band Judas Priest, because I was there at the beginning; I was absolutely right there. It was tough and it was hard, but we achieved something very, very special for men of our age now, to be able to look back and think that we created something that was unique, and something that has lastability, really. Who knows; in a thousand years from now people will still be playing ‘Breaking the Law’! I think that that’s bound to happen; people will always revere, and hopefully look back.
You must be quite tantalised by the prospect of what’s going to happen in November at the ceremony.
Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know who would be there and who wouldn’t; I really don’t know, I can’t really say. But like I say, before we were actually announced to be inducted, it was just a back of my mind thought really, but now, obviously, there’s still some months to go, so we’ll see how those thoughts go forward.
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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held on November 5, 2022 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.