The guitarist quit angrily in 2011, and later admitted he sent two different letters to his former bandmates, the second one of which carried stronger sentiments than the first. Since then, he said he’d asked several times about the possibility of reconnecting, but no discussions were planned.
Last month, bassist Ian Hill once again rejected the idea of Downing’s return, saying he wasn’t even sure why the idea was suggested. “I didn’t know, really, where he was coming from,” Hill said. “I mean, Ken‘s place in the band has already been taken. … It’s also two albums down the road since Nostradamus, which is the last one he played on, and is he gonna be prepared to play music from the new album? …He probably would not.”
Hill added that “apart from that, he’s been retired for nearly eight years. … He’s hardly at the peak of his game at the moment. So, yeah, I wasn’t quite sure where he was coming from with that — I really don’t. I think it might have been just a bit of mischief.”
However, in a new interview with Z93, Halford appeared more conciliatory when asked about the chances of former members appearing on stage in 2020. “That’s a cool question,” he replied. “It’s like anything in rock ’n’ roll. I love the kind of chaos that surrounds rock ’n’ roll. That’s to me, what it’s all about. There should be no laws, regulations of restrictions. Anything can happen with Priest. So, just keep an eye out and a lookout, especially when we play live. … It’s all on the table.”
Meanwhile, Tim “Ripper” Owens, who fronted Priest during Halford’s absence from 1996 until 2003, ruled himself out of any return. Asked by a fan on Twitter if he’d be involved in the anniversary tour, Owens replied flatly, “I would say that’s a no.”
Owens, Downing and former drummer Les BInks performed together last month with Megadeth bassist David Ellefson, playing a set that celebrated Priest’s past. It marked the second time since Downing’s retirement that he’s played a large-scale show, following his return as a guest of Ross the Boss at a U.K. festival in August.
At the time, Ross had said, “I don’t know anything about what went down between K.K. and the band, and I hope one day it could be solved. It’s my ulterior motive to bring K.K. Downing out and get him playing again and maybe back to where he belongs in Judas Priest.”