Queensryche Guitarist Kelly Gray Exits

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Guitarist Kelly Gray has left the Seattle-based progressive metal act Queensryche. The artist joined the band in 1998, replacing co-founder Chris DeGarmo. He appeared on the band's 1999 Atlantic album "Q2K" and last year's "Live Evolution" collection. In the early '80s, Gray played in the band Myth with Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate.

According to Tate, Gray came into the band with the understanding that he was not a permanent member, and that he actually departed last November. "Working with Kelly was really fun at the time," Tate tells Billboard.com. "I think we sort of came to a place where having him stay in the band would kind of limit him and limit us, so we decided to part ways and do different things."

Queensryche has not hired a steady replacement and most likely will not do so, opting instead to collaborate with different songwriters when the need arises instead. "We've decided to work with outside writers and different people that we admire," he says, noting that remaining Queensryche guitarist Michael Wilton will play all the guitar parts and will be joined by other "guest players."

It has been strongly rumored that DeGarmo is recording with Queensryche for its next studio album. Tate says this is not true, but when asked if there were plans for DeGarmo to work with his old bandmates in the future, he replies, "I don't want to say 'yes' and I don't want to say 'no,' because [Chris] might call up one day and say, 'Hey, I've got some songs and I'm really interested in recording with you guys. You wanna do it?' and then I'd have to eat my words. So I'll say there are no plans at the moment, but the door is open."

Tate reveals that about half of Queensryche's next studio album has been written; he hopes those duties will be completed before he goes on the road this summer to support his self-titled Sanctuary solo debut. Wilton is working on material with his side band Soulbender, and drummer Scott Rockenfeld recently released an album with the group Slave To The System, whose lineup includes Gray.


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