With a North American tour looming, Judas Priest recently made the decision to perform as a four-piece with Richie Faulkner as the sole live guitarist. The move was reversed within the week, but it was one that former guitarist and co-founder K.K. Downing found "insulting."

With Glenn Tipton stepping back in recent years as a result of Parkinson's Disease, the band had been utilizing Firepower co-producer Andy Sneap on a live basis. Downing had previously been vocal about not receiving and invite to rejoin the band he departed from in 2011 and when it was revealed that Sneap would not be among the 2022 touring lineup, fans had speculated about his potential return — or lack thereof.

"I'm like everybody else. I'm totally bemused. It was just so extreme and insulting in a way, I guess, and insulting to Glenn as well," he told the 'Rock of Nations' podcast in response to the ill-fated decision, naming his longtime guitar counterpart, with whom he formed one of metal's most iconic guitar duos that also pioneered the original heavy metal style.

"It was kind of a slap in the face, saying, 'Okay, you two guys did it, but we think just one guy could do what…' It kind of made us and everything that we've done and created, saying it was all superfluous, really, and didn't really have the value that," Downing continued (transcription via Blabbermouth). "I'm sure Glenn will agree with me that it does have a value."

Since Downing's exit from Judas Priest, the band has gone on to release two studio albums, while the axeman re-emerged last year with KK's Priest and the Sermons of the Sinner record, alongside ex-Judas Priest singer Tim 'Ripper' Owens.

Reflecting more on the four-piece presentation of Judas Priest, Downing dubbed it "very, very strange" and found it hard to reconcile with the concept of the band as anything less than a twin guitar band. "There must be, obviously, something behind the scenes that we don't know. It's kind of awkward for me, guys, because with myself and Glenn, that's Judas Priest to me."

He asserted, "I think I've got a license to say that after spending a lifetime in the band. And the image and everything and all the shows and all the work and all the albums and everything... everything revolves around that. I mean, if you don't see Glenn's red pants on stage, it's not Judas Priest, right?"

"Okay, I created an image with the flying V [guitar], long blond hair, leather and studs — I created that," Downing affirmed before looking back to the legacy he's built up when he added, "It's easy to use the wheel, but inventing it is a different story."

Judas Priest's '50 Heavy Metal Years' tour continues in March — with two guitarists — and with Queensryche as support. See the upcoming dates here.

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