As an old school metal head, and a die-hard Judas Priest fan, this was a book I could not wait to dig into. Priest is a band I literally grew up listening to and K.K. Downing is one of a pair of axemen that have always ranked near the top of my list of great guitar players. Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest begins with K.K.’s rough childhood and progresses, as you might expect, through the early years of the band and the many different members that filed through the ranks until the group was all but established to take their brand of heavy music to the masses. Judas Priest is an act that pretty much set the stage for the way heavy metal looked and sounded.
I was quite surprised to learn that, even though Priest are widely considered the godfathers, perhaps even the originators of this style of heavy metal, their overall record sales paled in comparison to other metal bands that followed them; groups like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard. That was a bit hard for me to wrap my head around as, when I think of the classic heavy metal image, at least to me, I envision Rob Halford decked out in leather and studs while K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton are laying down the riffs and screaming solos.
Check out K.K. Downing chatting with Eddie Trunk on September 25, 2018.
As you might expect, the book covers a majority of the band’s career, including the debauchery that came along with living the rock star lifestyle in the ‘80s and ‘90s. (Fans will love the detailed history and behind-the-scenes look.) What I did not like, though, and this was sort of a downer, is that Downing seems to be bitter about his days in Priest, and his eventual departure from the band, which in the end is understandable.
That said, as I was reading through, I got a sort of whiney, almost petty tone (almost as if the problems were everyone else’s fault) from him and I was a bit put off. I know there are usually bad feelings associated with any sort of breakup, but there seemed to be, in a subtle way, a bit too much. In the end, despite the underlying tone, I think this is a decent read with a lovely overview of the early history of a legendary heavy metal band.
Written By: K.K. Downing (Author), Mark Eglinton (Contributor)
Publisher: Da Capo Press; First Edition edition (September 18, 2018)
Format/Length: Hardcover, 288 pages