It seems Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing has decided to down tools, put his 401K into a little shack down south and spend his autumn years tending to a little veggie garden (I’m paraphrasing: actual truth may vary from blog post). That’s right, the legendary axeman has stepped down, and is being replaced by 31-year-old Richie Faulkner for the band’s forthcoming Epitaph tour and whatever new recording stuff they end up doing. Faulkner used to play with Lauren Harris, Iron Maiden legend Steve Harris’s daughter. Dig his playing on his YouTube channel here.

Here’s the official press release:

It is with regret that Judas Priest announce that K.K. Downing has formally retired from the band and will therefore not be joining them on their forthcoming Epitaph tour.

The band respect his decision and naturally all wish him well.

Having thought long and hard about how to proceed, Rob, Glenn, Ian and Scott unanimously agreed that they should go ahead with the tour and not let the fans down all around the world.

Fate also stepped in and delivered the perfect replacement – 31 year old British guitar player Richie Faulkner – He has blended into the band perfectly and is a great talent who is going to help set the stage on fire!

The Epitaph tour will include songs from every Priest studio album and also tracks they have never before performed on stage plus all the old favourites!

With a new album due to be released next year the Metal Gods are preparing to tour the planet once more – heavy metal at its best complete with lasers, lights, bikes and hellfire!! It’s a show not to be missed!!