K.K. Downing’s departure from Judas Priest, in 2011, was a major shock and caused huge disappointment among the millions of fans around the world. It was definitely something that we didn’t see coming as K.K. was not only a founding member but also an integral part of the Judas Priest sound. At that time, the official press release stated that more or less K.K. wanted to “retire” but as the years went by more details surfaced –especially from the Judas Priest camp- that had to do with great differences in the financial and artistic aspect of Priest’s career. So, this autobiography sheds some light at what really happened back then but also gives us all the details regarding the foundation, rising and glorified establishment of Judas Priest.
For starters, “Heavy Duty” has the typical structure of an autobiography (with the facts written in a linear chronological order) but its key element is that the focus is clearly on Judas Priest…and Judas Priest alone! Having said that, we get to learn a lot about Downing’s personality through his tenure in Judas Priest while his childhood years have been marked by music (especially Hendrix) but also by the negative influence of his father who casts a big shadow on Downing in the years to come.
It almost goes without saying that when someone buys the autobiography of the Judas Priest guitarist all he wants to learn about is the overall landscape that shaped the image and the essence of this legendary band. Downing is fully aware of it thus he doesn’t fail to share many details about the recordings and the tours of all the Judas Priest albums that he played on while I must give him credit because he focuses on the artistic side of the whole thing (meaning that he focuses on the music and the famous leather image of Judas Priest; an image that Downing was the one who conceived and really pushed forward). Naturally, on “Heavy Duty” the reader is exposed to some of the hedonistic details of the rock lifestyle (after all, it was the 80s…right?) plus we can see Downing’s view on the famous legal case of the two kids who attempted suicide while listening to some Judas Priest music. Personally, I was genuinely surprised by the strained relationship between Ken and Glenn…I am sure that many fans didn’t know that.
All in all, I’d say that “Heavy Duty” is a book that I was eagerly awaiting for and I fully enjoyed reading it (twice, I must add…) as it is very well-written and all the details do not tire the reader at any point whatsoever. I am certain that more autobiographies will be printed in the near future based on the “Heavy Duty” model.