Judas Priest bassist Ian Hill has considered following guitarist KK Downing into retirement – and the band’s last remaining founding member says he’d give them his blessing if they went on without him.
Downing’s departure came as a bombshell to fans when it was announced last April, four months after he’d made his decision. Priest brought in Richie Faulkner as his replacement and announced their current world tour would be their last.
But Hill confirms there’s more to from from the heavy metal pioneers – and admits he’ll always miss Downing.
He tells Metal Rules: “He was a huge part of the band. He was a huge character. We’re still friends so when we get time we’ll bump into each other and see how things are going.
“But from a musical point of view Richie is handling everything he played, and he’s adding his own flavours. The fans won’t miss that much musically.”
The bassist says his ex-bandmate’s decision to retire caused him to think along similar lines – but like many musicians from his era, the idea frightened him. “I thought of not doing it, not playing,” he reports.
“It terrifies all of us, I think. Many bands are probably thinking, ‘Well, this is it, this will be the last tour,’ and within a year or two they start missing it all. I’m sure we’d be the same. If we said, ‘We are not going to play after this,’ within six months we’ll already be on the phone.”
Priest say their current world tour is the last one of its size for them – but there’s a new album in the pipeline followed by a certain amount of continued live action.
“There’s less physical work in an album then there is on tour,” Hill reflects. “It takes you away from home for months, sometimes years on end when you tour and that’s basically what’s getting to us at the moment. We’ve been doing it now for forty years and it’s time to spend a bit of time at home, and of course records you can do at home.”
But if the time should come for him to retire, he’ll have no problem if his bandmates want to continue: “We’re doing fine without Ken. We did fine without Rob Halford, you know. I’m sure the band will do fine without me. If I don’t continue and they want to carry on, of course, yeah.”
There’s no chance of Priest considering carrying on their band name as a franchise, even though Kiss have discussed the possibility for some time and Rickey Medlocke recently formed a band under his Blackfoot name consisting entirely of brand-new members.
Hill states: “Kiss are talking about farming it out, franchising it – but I don’t think the fans will put up with it, not for a second.”