Former Guitarist Reveals How Judas Priest Decided To Play Twin-Guitar Sound

Former Guitarist Reveals How Judas Priest Decided To Play Twin-Guitar Sound

Former Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing has recalled how he and his band Priest decided to play with two guitarists back in the day and said that it came after the record company asked them to create something new.

K.K. Downing was the guitarist of the heavy metal band Judas Priest. Appearing with the band from 1970 to 2011, Downing had debuted with the band’s debut album Rocka Rolla in 1974. Downing‘s latest album with the band was the band’s 2008-made sixteenth studio album, Nostradamus.

Before Priest released its debut album in 1974, they were told by the record dealer that they have to do something different because the genre already had Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, or Free. After the suggestion, K.K. Downing had started to think about what they could do for the album. Deciding to get the band’s current guitarist Glenn Tipton into the band, Judas Priest has officially come to twin-guitar sound.

As some of you might remember, Judas Priest had announced on January 10 that they would play the next leg of the band’s 50th-anniversary tour as a 4-piece, outside the band’s tradition. But five days after the announcement, on January 15, Priest had stepped back their decision and announced that they unanimously to continue their live shows as a 5-piece.

However, during his recent interview with The Rock Show With Lee Graham, ex-guitarist Downing has revealed how Priest‘s two-guitarist idea came up. At first, the guitarists said the goal was to be heavy. He also mentioned what the record dealer told them to make a deal. According to him, the record company asked them to be joined by a keyboard player, but Priest rejected.


“We were just a four-piece for quite a long time, really,” said Downing. “And that particular period kind of set a precedent, I think, for everything that I thought was in my mind as best as I could do it, really.

“The goal was to be heavy, whatever that meant. And what it really meant was to be emotional with attitude and to be different to what other people were doing, because what other people were doing had a different target audience. So kind of that’s what it was about.

“And then, as time went on, the idea came about… We managed to get a record deal but they said, ‘Look, there’s too many bands who have the same lineup — Free, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, whatever.

“What about you guys having a saxophone player?’ And I go, ‘No way. You can keep your record deal.’ ‘A keyboard player?’ ‘No. Sorry.'”

Downing Admits He Thought Idea Of Playing With Two Guitarists Was Good For Judas Priest

Downing then stated that he sat and thought about what they could do differently in their playing style. Explaining why he thought it was a good idea to play with two guitarists, the former guitarist of Priest admitted that the second guitarist would fill the sound while he was doing the solo. He also commented on Glenn Tipton‘s induction into the band and expressed that they did it well during their tenure in the band.


“So I sat and thought about it,” he continued. “I thought, ‘Can we get a record deal and appease these guys?’ And I’m thinking maybe a second guitar player.

“And I really thought that was a good idea, for lots of reasons. It would fill out the sound when I’m doing a solo. And I’m thinking if we can get another guitar player that can write, and he’s a lead guitar player as well, we’ll be two lead guitar players, two strong songwriters, it will fortify the band.

“And musically, we can venture into worlds that people haven’t gone into yet. I had this crazy idea we can create heavy harmonies. And we did have a go at that. Because usually harmonies…

“Beause at the time you heard bands like The Allman Brothers and the James Gang and the great Wishbone Ash, and I wasn’t a great fan because it kind of sounded a bit too light. ‘Cause that’s what harmonies do — when you start to build harmonies, they start to sound like chord structures, which they inevitably will, ’cause harmonizing with one note will build a chord.

“So I’m thinking we’ll create… And we ventured out. And we eventually did. There is such a thing as diminished harmonies. You can stack minor thirds together — fine. It will sound not too pleasing to a lot of people, but to me it sounded great; it was dissonant.

“We got together [with Glenn Tipton]. And obviously, musically, what Glenn and myself brought together maybe didn’t always agree, but I had a great appreciation, and I think Glenn did as well, is the fact that a band, it’s a combination of people.

“And so some of the more melodic stuff, the slightly more commercial stuff that Glenn would come up with, I was in acceptance of that because I’m thinking that if we wanna really be successful with our music, then we really do need to broaden our horizons. And obviously, the combination worked incredibly well.”

After Priest decided to go as a 4-piece band, Downing had shared his honest opinion on the issue. Admitting that he was one of those who bemused after the decision, the guitarist had added that it was extremely insulting.


“I’m like everybody else,” Downing said. “I’m totally bemused. It was just so extreme and insulting in a way, I guess, and insulting to Glenn as well. It was kind of a slap in the face, saying, ‘Okay, you two guys did it, but we think just one guy could do what…’

“It kind of made us and everything that we’ve done and created, saying it was all superfluous, really, and didn’t really have the value that… I’m sure Glenn will agree with me that it does have a value.

“[This is] very, very strange for [them] to even think about [the possibility of going out as a quartet]. There must be, obviously, something behind the scenes that we don’t know.

“It’s kind of awkward for me, guys, because with myself and Glenn, that’s Judas Priest to me. I think I’ve got a license to say that, after spending a lifetime in the band.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *