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Former Judas Priest Guitarist K.K. Downing Thriving With New Golf Venture

KK Downing
Mary Ouellette,

Fans holding out hope that retired Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing might find himself missing the stage and return to the band should probably put that notion to bed. Downing, who gave up his career with Judas Priest to focus on his love for golf and developing a multi-million dollar sporting complex complete with luxury hotel and world class golf course, seems to be pretty happy with his current venture.

In a new interview with the Birmingham Post, Downing talks about the stark contrast between the two worlds remembering the worldwide success of Judas Priest and the fame it brought along with it. “At around the time our ‘Turbo’ album came out we would get massive numbers of girls at our concerts, which for a heavy metal band was good,” explains Downing. “It was crazy – in Japan the audiences were about 95 per cent girls. It was just like Beatlemania. They’d be throwing themselves over cars. The Tokyo Prince Hotel even asked us to leave, as some of these girls were renting rooms there and there might be 12 to a room.”

Downing has traded in his wild nights for a quiet life on the greens. He purchased Astbury Hall in Shropshire, England in 1985 spreading a bit of his new-found wealth around in what he admits was probably not the best fashion. “I went and did what they all damn well do when suddenly you come into a bit of money and you go mad.” Living in the large mansion with his collection of eight high end cars proved to be a little more than Downing could handle. “When I came here I didn’t care if it was big. I just thought I will find a use for every room, though initially it kind of felt like it wasn’t mine and was all a bit of a dream,” Downing admits. “It had an antiquated alarm system that used to keep going off in the night. I used to walk around with my pellet gun. It was a very solemn and desolate place, particularly at night time – I could hear all sorts of things.” He eventually moved into one of the smaller cottages on his new estate and purchased some additional land that would lead to pursuing his dream of developing his own golf course.

The golf course he’s been masterminding over the last few years is right up there with some of the world’s finest. “The aim at Astbury Hall has been to create “the finest standard of playing surfaces possible,” Downing said, with cost and maintenance not even an object. His only regret is being so caught up in the running of the course that he doesn’t get to play as much as he use to.

When asked about what he misses from his time with Judas Priest, Downing was hard-pressed to find anything that satisfies him more than his current position. “As far as I am concerned I can’t think of anything more enjoyable than go to a brand new country, jump in a car and go to the nearest golf course,” concluded Downing.

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