Judas Priest Producer Recalls ‘Great Rivarly’ Between K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton in ’80s, Explains What Made Guitar Sound ‘Really Big’

It’s been well over a decade now since K.K. Downing left Judas Priest. And these days, it’s not uncommon for K.K. to share a few inflammatory remarks in interviews about the tensions that were present between him and, well, pretty much the rest of the band.

However, this strained relationship isn’t something that developed during Downing’s final days with the band. The tensions actually go way back to the 1980s. And, according to the Judas Priest’s longtime producer Tom Allom, who’s been collaborating with them since 1979’s live record “Unleashed in the East,” K.K. and Tipton tried to outdo one another way back in the early 1980s.

During a recent chat with Grammy, Allom discussed working on 1982’s “Screaming for Vengeance” which is turning 40 this year. Reflecting on how they recorded the band’s hit “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'”, he explained:

“They had this idea with the riff and everything, which I think Glenn mostly came up with. ‘Let’s try and run it through’ and I was in the process [of mixing]. It wasn’t the last song [to be done] because I was checking out the drum sound. I had the drums all miked up ready to go, and they wanted to run through the track. So they set the guitars and the bass up in front of the drums and they ran it through without headphones. The guitars were turned down with the overdrive turned on quite high for the crunch.”

Judas Priest - You've Got Another Thing Comin' (Live Vengeance '82)

“I recorded this run-through and I said, ‘Well, you’re not gonna get a better take on that.’ And they wanted to redo all the guitars and do the usual stuff and have the big ambient side on the guitars. I think I let Glenn overdub one other rhythm guitar a little. I remember it as clear as daylight. They might remember it differently. Then Rob went through two or three lyric changes and melody changes. I have to say, I’m not always right, but I bloody well was on that occasion.”

When the interviewer reminded Allom that this was the first album that detailed who did which solo in the liner notes, as well as the guitar duo’s prominent interplay, the producer said:

“I felt like it was great rivalry between them to outdo each other. They both were trying to play things that they couldn’t play, and they went on working on them until they could. It was that rivalry that made the guitars so bloody brilliant. I can particularly remember Glenn starting to come up with a solo and he was struggling with it. He would work on it for days, if necessary, until he could play it.”

Judas Priest - Live in San Bernardino 1983/05/29 [US Festival '83] [50fps]

“Obviously, we were able to punch in mistakes and all that, but these were the analog years. By the time they perfected it, they would go out and play that track live, no trouble at all. That was very good to see.

Photo: Fernando Catalina Landa (Judas Priest K.K. Downing Glenn Tipton, 1984)