Book review — Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest

Scott Roos, Herald contributor

In life there are occasionally trying times when we wonder if “honesty is the best policy. In the case of former Judas Priest axeman KK Downing (he departed the band in 2011), however, it’s an adage that he struggled with for much of his time in the band. In fact, it’s only now, after the release of his tell all autobiography Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest (via Da Capo Press), that he has decided to let us in on some of his frustrations that stretched over 40 years playing in one of heavy metal’s most revered groups.

“I thought that at some point there might be an opportunity for me to step back in (to Judas Priest) but the years rolled on so last year I was invited to do the book. Now obviously I’m 67 years old. (I’m) still feeling well but I’d probably be lying if I thought my memory was 100% so while I was able to I thought it was a good idea to document and get the fans to know me as opposed to just knowing of me. And also to just basically shed some light on the reasons for my departure (from Judas Priest).” says KK as he joined me over the phone from his residence in the UK.

Many of the issues that KK had during his time in Judas Priest revolved around his dealings with fellow Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton and, in his book, KK does not hold back on the juicy details – comparing these interactions with his bandmate to a marriage gone wrong.

“Myself and Glenn, we had an awful lot of things in common (but) the things we disagreed (on) really started to manifest and become big things, and they can overshadow the better things,” states KK matter of factly when I prompt him on the subject.

All this aside, KK’s book isn’t just about his struggles with bandmates. It gives you a first hand account of heavy metal history being made as Judas Priest works in the studio through some of the genres greatest and most beloved albums like “British Steel”, “Screaming For Vengeance” and my own personal favourite “Defenders of the Faith” and KK’s account of these occasions is appropriately devout and meticulously detailed. The entire book, thanks to help from seasoned co-author Mark Eglington, whose writing credits include working with Pantera’s Rex Brown and Behemoth’s Nergal, is an excellent read!

“I do have total respect for my bandmates and irrespective of what happened or whatever will happen nothing can take away those 40 plus years that we lived and worked together and we created a fantastic legacy and a band name Judas Priest. Nothing can take that away and we all needed each other to do it and we did it,” remarks KK proudly.

At the end of the day, in Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest all KK wanted was to tell his story after years of remaining silent on many hardships within the band. It’s a story well worth the read and one that I would highly recommend. But,what does the future hold for KK Downing?

“I’m thinking if it’s not (rejoining) Judas Priest then maybe it’s best to just leave it (retire). But something neat could pop up. Something neat could happen. I don’t know.”