Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing has stunned fans by quitting the band after 42 years - just weeks before they head out on a farewell tour.
The British rockers, who formed in 1969 and have sold 40 million records worldwide, announced in December (10) they plan to pack up their instruments for good after saying goodbye to their fans with a global series of dates.
But just weeks before the heavy metal legends are due to kick off their final tour with a concert in Tilburg, Holland in June (11), the band has announced Downing has quit.
In a statement, a spokesman for the band says, "It is with regret that Judas Priest announce that K.K. Downing has formally retired from the band and will therefore not be joining them on their forthcoming tour. The band respect his decision and naturally wish him well."
Richie Faulkner, a guitarist in British singer Lauren Harris' backing band, will replace Downing on the farewell tour.