As classic rockers Judas Priest prepare to embark on what’s been labeled their “final” tour, the band’s guitarist K.K. Downing has stepped down and reportedly will not be taking part. A statement posted on the band’s website read “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 Epitaph Tour. The band respects his decision and naturally all wish him well.” Faced with the sudden departure, remaining band members singer Rob Halford, guitarist Glenn Tipton, bassist Ian Hill and drummer Scott Travis mutually decided to continue with the tour. UK guitarist Richie Faulkner has been recruited to take Downing’s place. (April 22, 2011)