Richard Smirke of Billboard reports:

A share of the royalty rights to over 130 Judas Priest tracks, including metal hits Breaking The Law, Living After Midnight and Painkiller, are being put for sale, following the demise of KK Downing’s luxury golf resort.

The guitarist and founder member of Judas Priest — real name Ken Downing – is thought to have invested millions in developing Astbury Hall, located in Shropshire, England, and its 18 hole, 71-par golf course in the hope of one day attracting the Open Championship.

That dream ended last fall when the business fell into administration (similar to Chapter 11 insolvency in the U.S.) and the 320-acre estate was put up for immediate sale with an asking price of more than £10 million ($13.5 million).

At the time, administrators blamed “tougher economic times within the wider corporate hospitality market” for placing “unsustainable pressure” on the business. Astbury Hall and its golf course has since been acquired by new owners.

The next part of the bankruptcy process involves the sale of Downing’s share of the royalty rights to 136 Judas Priest songs, which administrators FRP Advisory LLP say generates between $340,000 and $400,000 per year.

Downing left the band in 2011, subsequently citing a breakdown in relationships between members and dissatisfaction with the group’s live performances. When guitarist Glenn Tipton announced he was retiring from touring earlier this year due to his battle with Parkinson’s disease, Downing wrote that he was “shocked and stunned” not to be asked back.

The heavy metal pioneers, which formed in 1969 and have sold over 50 million records, is currently in the middle of a world tour. Its most recent album, Firepower, debuted at number 5 on the Billboard 200 when it was released in March – the group’s highest ever charting record in the U.S.

This summer, Priest team up with Deep Purple for a 25-city co-headlining North American tour slated to begin on August 21st in Cincinnati, Ohio, promoted by Live Nation. Downing’s autobiography Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest is due for publication later this year.

Commenting on the sale of rights from Downing’s back catalog, joint administrator Alastair Massey called it “a unique investment opportunity” from one of the “driving influences” of the band’s success.


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  • Dana on

    Being that Priest is my favorite band, this story is devastating, as well as, worrisome.

    I really hope that the other band member’s can buy up his portion, or let it go to someone who is a huge fan of the band, to keep it’s integrity in tact.

    If these rights are sold to a business entity, or a business person (I am waiting for Gene Simmons or Sharon Osbourne to swoop in), they could commercialize the crap out this catalog.

    I remember when Michael Jackson usurped Sir Paul McCartney by buying up the rights to the Northern Songs catalog. What is a great business move? Absolutely. Was it morally the right thing to do? As a Beatles fan, NO. Plus, once Jackson gained access to the rights, he sold their songs off for TV commercials, etc., which in turn, waters down the importance of the product (meaning the songs). White I know Priest allowed a car commercial to use, The Hellion, which believe me, didn’t thrill me, but it was probably a band decision. However, in this particular case, this could give a complete stranger, the right to effect these types of “band” decisions.

    While my heart breaks for KK, I pray this all works out for the best.

    A very concerned Dana, aka the self appointed Metal Goddess (Yeah, I said it) 😉

    • Louis Woessner on

      Great comments as always Metal Goddess!
      In my heart of hearts, I think they will all get together on this and come up with a win-win.
      I don’t ever think they will go the route of Sharon nor Gene/Paul.
      I am just relishing “Firepower” and getting to see them and Deep Purple in September. Let’s sit back and appreciate that after nearly 50 years!
      Heck, maybe Richie Faulkner buys it all up and preserves the legacy for 50 MORE years…to Defend the Faith!

  • Doug R. on

    I can see Gene & Sharon arm wrestling over the rights already! I think I’d put my money on Sharon! Cheer up our Metal Goddess/Judas Priestess, I don’t think the Metal Gods will let this turn into another McCartney/Jackson drama, hopefully! 🙂

    • Dana on

      Thank you, Doug R.,

      I hope you’re right and their catalog doesn’t become A Victim Of Changes or I will be Heading Out To The Highway. (A tribute to you, obvi).

      D 🙂

    • Doug R. on

      Thanks, Dana, I’m with you “All The Way!” 😉 Cheers!!

      Let’s go Knights! (Sorry DR) 😉

  • tasnam on

    So “in theory” if these 136 songs generate $340k-$400k per year {his 1/3??}

    Most songs up to his leaving the band were Downing, Halford, and Tipton (with some exceptions of course) – then that would mean $1,020,000 to $1,200,000 would be the total take in royalties for the three song writers annually for the songs written during his tenure.

    Again this is all speculation.

    • Doug R. on

      The love of money is the root of all “Evil Fantasies!” 😉

  • Rattlehead on

    Sad that KK’s business venture failed. I’m assuming he put the song rights up for sale as collateral? I hope the same as you, Dana. I hope one of the Priest guys can save the day so the song rights stay in the Priest family.

    It does make me wonder KK’s financial position if the song rights are for sale. He must have really taken a financial beating with the golf course venture.

  • T on

    This is so upsetting to hear. How could something like this happen? I really feel for KK, and hope the other guys in the band will help him, even though they had nothing to do with his investment decision. Doesn’t KK have money in the bank to cover such an event? So now I guess any schmuck with a few hundred thousand dollars can have some control over the songs he sweated and worked for? He seems like a really great guy who just wanted to retire, and he should be able to do so, but someone took him to the cleaners.

    • tasnam on

      Likely not that simple on many fronts.
      He was likely signed a personal guarantee for the business loans and now they want their money paid back.

      Also, if the royalties generate $300-$400k per year that is NOT their sales price!!! It would be a multiple of that just like any business. Likely since they will go to auction it will meet market pricing of the perceived value…into the millions? – perhaps.

      Think of it this way who WOULDN’T buy a “passive” income of $300-$400k if it was cheap? Of course anyone would.

      So I would expect potentially million($) or MORE.

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