Judas Priest has revealed that guitarist Ken "K.K." Downing, one of the last two members of the band (the other being bassist Ian Hill) to remain with the group since its founding in 1969, has retired, and will not be present for its upcoming "Epitaph" world tour.

The group's statement, reads, in part:
"Having thought long and hard about how to proceed, Rob, Glenn, Ian and Scott unanimously agreed that they should go ahead with the tour and not let the fans down all around the world.

"Fate also stepped in and delivered the perfect replacement - 31 year old British guitar player Richie Faulkner - He has blended into the band perfectly and is a great talent who is going to help set the stage on fire!"