When K.K. Downing walked away from Judas Priest in 2011 it was a move that sent shock waves through the entire music world especially the metal community! After all, Downing was not just a founding member, he was also a major contributor to the bands sound, look and their identity. Following his announcement, there were rumors, accusations and a lot of speculation as to his decision, and now K.K. Downing has laid this all to rest with his long awaited autobiography, HEAVY DUTY - DAYS AND NIGHTS IN JUDAS PRIEST from Da Capo Press!
As a lifelong fan of Judas Priest, I couldn't wait to read this book but to be honest, I was a bit concerned. I didn't want to read anything that would tarnish my memories of the Priest or make me look at K.K. as someone who was bitter at his former bandmates. Thankfully, none of that happened and after reading the book, I became a bigger fan of his.
What I first noticed is how easy this book was to read. Downing (and co-author Mark Eglinton) created a book that was so well written I could hear Downing's Birmingham accent in my head as I went from page to page. From his rough and very emotional childhood to forming Judas Priest to worldwide success and finally, the end, HEAVY DUTY paints a very interesting picture. It tells the story of a man who took whatever came his way and never gave up... he made his own opportunities, never rolled over, and always fought and most of the time he won!
If you are looking for dirt on band members, and I'm sure there is plenty out there, but Downing didn't get personal or petty in his book. He tells events from his point of view and doesn't declare them as facts, but tells it as HIS side of the story. An eye opener was the almost non existent relationship between him and his guitar partner Glenn Tipton that I never knew. When you would listen to the albums or see them live, the duo looked like two guys who were close as brothers, but this wasn't the case.
Another thing that Downing did in the book was not go to much into the personal life of Rob Halford and I am thankful for that. He tells of how it was for Halford to be gay in a time that it wasn't as accepted as it is now, how it was a non issue for the band and the turbulent time when halford left. But, he dishes no dirt, tells nothing embarrassing and gives the singer room to one day tell his story.
When I finished the book it left me with a sense of sadness that relationships in the band and with the women in his life weren't what K.K. wanted. HEAVY DUTY is about music but it's also about relationships. What happens to us when we are young can have a major and lasting impact on our lives later on, both good and bad. HEAVY DUTY is not a book by a bitter rocker like I think some expected and wanted, it's the writings of someone who just wants to tell his side of the story and maybe find some closure.
The Power Chords Podcast is a twice-monthly podcast celebrating rock and metal music of the '70s, '80s, '90s and beyond. The show is co-hosted by Matt Herring and Brian LeTendre.