Last week, Judas Priest issued a statement announcing the retirement of guitarist K.K. Downing, revealing that the longtime axeman would not partake in the band's Epitaph tour, scheduled to be the band's final tour ever.

Downing, 59, has since released his own statement regarding the matter. Downing indicates that a bit more than his general desire to retire and health issues were factors in his monumental decision.

Downing's statement is as follows:

"It is with much regret that I will not be with you this summer. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your concerns about my health. Please rest assured that I am O.K.

There has been an ongoing breakdown in working relationship between myself, elements of the band, and the band's management for some time.

Therefore I have decided to step down rather than to tour with negative sentiments as I feel that this would be a deception to you, our cherished fans.

However I would urge you to please support the Priest as I have no doubt that it will be a show not to be missed.

All my love and respect,


Vocalist Rob Halford also spoke to Rock Hard Magazine about the guitarist's exit, saying that it has been emotionally difficult for him. "K.K. has his own life to live and [they] can't force him to do anything he doesn't want to do," said Halford.

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