Judas Priest were recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And during their three-song set at the ceremony at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on November 5 the band was joined by, among others, estranged guitarist K. K. Downing, who parted ways with the group in 2011, with his position taken up by current guitarist Richie Faulkner.
Now, in a new interview with the San Antonio Current, Priest singer Rob Halford was asked about the performance, and whether playing with Downing helped “put aside some of the acrimony that he's shown about not being in band for these last few tours.”
To which Halford replied, “I think we should let the music speak for itself, really, because as you'll see from the performance — I think it's going to be on HBO soon — you'll see that all of that other stuff is irrelevant. All the things that have been said and suggested just float off into the air. What matters is what's going down on that stage at that time you're performing together. And there he is on my right-hand side. It just felt like he was always there. Look behind me and there's ['70s-era Priest drummer Les Binks], and the memories just are overwhelming.”
That said, Halford continued, “you're focusing on the moment that you're back together again and playing live. It was really a whirlwind. We were in each other's company for a very, very short space of time. We had very little time to communicate. But for the purpose of the induction of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame together, it was absolutely crucial that K.K. and Les were there. They were inducted, they needed to be in the room. And more than that, we were thrilled that they took the opportunity to say, ‘Yeah, we'll come and jam onstage again with you guys.’ ”
Halford also addressed his other standout moment at the ceremony: performing alongside Dolly Parton on a version of her signature tune, “Jolene.” Regarding the performance, he said: “I knew that there was going to be an opportunity a few weeks before the event. Again, it was just kind of floating around that she was going to do this song at the end of the show and bring all of her friends onstage with her. And I didn't realize that we were going to be so connected. I sang one chorus with Dolly Parton and the world's gone nuts. And I can appreciate that now. I didn't understand it at first. And now these days have gone by, and people are going, ‘Where's the album with Dolly and the Metal God?’ ”
He continued, “I'll tell you something about her: she's been here forever, a bit like Her Majesty the Queen, who left us recently. What I mean by that is when Dolly walks into the room, you feel this regal presence. She's just got this aura about her personality. She's a genuinely beautiful light of love and caring and philanthropy and humanity. It's all real, man. It's all very real. There are some people who are very different on and off stage. Well, no, not with Dolly. That's Dolly's thing. So, for me to have that opportunity, I was just blessed and honored and thrilled. I know her work because I've lived as long as Dolly, and I was aware of Dolly as a young person growing up and seeing her on British television. She'd come over and do these British variety shows. And here I am, this kid from a public housing estate in the West Midlands in England, and I'm standing next to Dolly fucking Parton, who is now a rock chick.”