Former Judas Priest Guitarist K.K. Downing Plays ‘Before the Dawn’ Solo + Improvises Shredding

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Former Judas Priest axeman K.K. Downing has been a bit more active over the last month, uploading videos to his YouTube channel. The latest video shows the famed guitarist playing the solo from the Priest classic, “Before the Dawn,” which comes off their 1978 record, Killing Machine. He caps the video off with some world-class shredding too!

“Before the Dawn” is a powerful Judas Priest song, incorporating mystical acoustic guitar passages with Rob Halford‘s crooning voice guiding the way. The song also boasts weeping solos that demonstrate the bluesy rock the band first found its roots in. Downing plays his scallop-necked Flying V in his home, giving a nice spotlight to just the lone guitar lines.

The clip transitions into a full-blown shredfest from the 64-year-old guitarist. Without even looking at his instrument, he preaches the importance of learning your scales when it comes to improvising solos. Leading by example, he harps on this idea as he continues to move his fingers at lightning speed, proving he’s still in top form despite having retired from Priest in 2011.

Downing recently opened up about his departure from Judas Priest with Rockin’ Metal Revival (transcription from Blabbermouth) “I thought I couldn’t remember the last time I saw the seasons change in England… you know, spring, summer, autumn and winter. [That was] one thing. But when I actually added everyting up, there was so many reasons, really, why I decided to not continue.” Citing age, the guitarist added, “Another reason is time does get shorter as you get older. I feel a lot of the listeners out there won’t be the age that I am, but I can promise you when you get to a certain age, you start to think that things are zipping by, so it’s time to take a bit of a step back and think about spending a little bit of time with the family and stuff like that.”

He goes on to add that not everything is completely typical, stating, “Not exactly living a normal life, but just getting in tune with reality again. Because, as I say, it’s almost like an amazing fantasy world to live in the world that I had been living in. But it was time not to continue to be selfish and just put a bit of time into other people that have supported you over the years.”

When asked if he regrets his decision to retire, Downing said, “I don’t regret leaving, because, to me, I thought that it had run its course. I miss what we had, but I don’t particularly miss what we had become when I left… You can look at YouTube and see Judas Priest playing at the US Festival, or at Live Aid, and I miss being at the pinnacle of the band. I miss that energy and youthfulness and just delivering all of that up.”

Judas Priest found their replacement in a young Richie Faulkner, who has routinely delivered precision performances as well as a commanding stage presence to keep the band rolling without a hitch.

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