Judas Priest onstage in Moline, Illinois.
|Years active||since 1969|
K. K. Downing
Tim 'Ripper' Owens
Judas Priest are an English heavy metal band. They formed in Birmingham, England in the early 1970s. They are famous for having two guitar players, named Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing. The singer, Rob Halford, left the band in the early 1990s because of problems with the other people in the band. He went back to the band in 2003.
Judas Priest used to be a different band to the one that is together now. The lead singer for this old band was called Al Atkins. Around the same time, guitar player K.K. Downing and bass player Ian Hill put together their own band, and when they were looking for a lead singer, they found Al Atkins. His band called Judas Priest had broken up by then, and he suggested that KK and Ian should use the same name. They kept on using the name even after Atkins left in 1973.
When the band was looking for another singer, Ian Hill discovered the singing talents of his girlfriend's brother, Rob Halford. He joined the band.
During the seventies, the band went through several drummers, including Alan Moore, John Hinch, Simon Phillips and Les Binks.
First five albums [change]
Before Judas Priest recorded their first album, a second guitar player, Glenn Tipton, joined the band. The first album, Rocka Rolla, came out in 1974. It was not very successful, probably because it didn't have many of the songs that the band were known for playing in live concerts back in those days. They would later be on the band's next album, Sad Wings of Destiny in 1976. That album was followed up by Sin After Sin in 1977. These three albums had a hard rock style that was familar to bands like Led Zeppelin, and had a psychadelic feel.
The band's fourth album, Stained Class, had less of a psychadelic sound and was rockier sounding. This was the first album to have drummer Les Binks, who had a drumming style that was liked by many fans, and is thought of as important for improving the band's sound. The fitth album, Killing Machine (called Hell Bent for Leather in America because of the original title suggesting murder) was also rockier sounding but had shorter songs. "Hell Bent for Leather" from the album is one of the band's more popular songs. Les Binks left after this album.
It was also during the late 70s/early 80s that Rob Halford started putting together stage costumes of S&M leather and studs. This was done to express that he was gay - he felt like he needed to keep this from the fans in case it would hurt the band's popularity, and he did not come out until 1998. The S&M look was not thought at the time by fans to be a symbol of homosexuality, and it was copied by many other metal bands.
Les was replaced by Dave Holland, who drummed with the band on all their 80s albums.
Sucess with British Steel and similar albums [change]
The band gained much more fame with album #6 in 1980, called British Steel. The album is said to be important for building on what we know as the heavy metal sound and is one of their most popular, including hit songs like "Metal Gods" "Breaking the Law" and "Living After Midnight". Sadly, the next album, Point of Entry, didn't do as well.
Album #8, Screaming For Vengeance, was a return to success and had the hits "Electric Eye" and "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" Album #9. Defenders of the Faith, had a similar style.
Change to pop-metal sound [change]
Album #10, however, called Turbo, had more of a pop-metal sound with synthesizers on all the songs and lyrics with sexual themes. This is best demonstrated in the first song "Turbo Lover". It recieved mixed critic reviews who had doubts about the change in sound. The next album, Ram It Down, mixed the pop metal sound of Turbo with the heavy metal sound of the band's more popular albums.
Dave Holland left the band in 1989, and was replaced with the American Scott Travis - the first non British person to play for the band.
The trial against the band [change]
In the summer of the year 1990, the band was involved in a trial where they were blamed for causing two young men to try to kill themselves. These men were 20-year-old James Vance and 18-year-old Raymond Belknap, both American. On 23 December 1985, Vance and Belknap, after hours of drinking beer, smoking weed and apparently listening to Judas Priest, went to a playground at a church with a shotgun to kill themselves. Belknap died instantly after shooting himself, but Vance survived with a disfigured face. Vance died three years after.
Their parents thought they heard "do it" being sung in the band's song "Better By You, Better Than Me" from the Stained Class album (actually a cover of a Spooky Tooth song). They said the words in the song made them shoot themselves. The trial was dismissed in August of 1990 when Rob Halford played a clip from their song called Exciter in reverse, so it sounded like Halford was singing "I asked her for a peppermint, I asked her to get one" (the actual words were "Stand by for exciter, salvation is his task"). He did this to show how any reverse messages in their songs suggesting suicide were accidental.
Painkiller and Halford leaves [change]
The band released one of their most popular albums in 1990 called Painkiller. The title song did very well and is a popular Judas Priest song. Fans and critics liked Scott Travis' fast and heavy drumming style, feeling it was better than the more simple slower drumming of Dave Holland.
Halford wanted to make heavier music in the style of newer bands like Pantera, but the band wanted to carry on with the style they were playing. Halford and the rest of the band started arguing which led to his leaving of the band, starting new bands called Fight and 2wo.
New singer: Tim 'Ripper' Owens [change]
The band didn't play together for a few years, until 1996 when they found American singer Tim Owens, who nicknamed himself 'Ripper' after an early Priest song. Owens had been playing in a Preist tribute band before joining the actual band.
They released Jugulator in 1997. The album was a lot heavier and darker than Painkiller and had lyrics describing the end of the world. Reviews were negative about Owens' singing style and the heavier musical style.
Halford and the band make up and Demolition [change]
Halford and the rest of Judas Priest started speaking again after KK, Glenn and Ian were invited to a wedding of a relative of Halford's. KK and Ian attended and made up with Halford.
However, Tim Owens was still in the band until 2003, bringing out Demolition in 2001. The album has a larger variety of musical styles than Jugulator, but was no more successful.
Halford re-joins [change]
Halford rejoined Priest in 2003, bringing out Angel Of Retribution with the band in 2005. The album went back to the style of their 80s albums and recieved positive reviews.
Their next album was Nostradamus in 2008, which was a concept album (an album telling a story) about a prophet, also called Nostradamus. Reviews were more critical, with negativity towards the album's length of two discs.
Epitaph tour and new album [change]
Around 2010, media reported that the band planned to break up after one last tour. However, eventually, the band confirmed that they would not be breaking up after the tour but would be doing a lot less touring. K.K. Downing left the band in 2011, after 41 years. He was replaced by Richie Faulkner.
During the tour, the band played at least one song from every studio album apart from the two with Ripper Owens.
The band are said to be working on a new album.
Studio albums [change]
- Rocka Rolla (1974)
- Sad Wings of Destiny (1976)
- Sin After Sin (1977)
- Stained Class (1978)
- Killing Machine / Hell Bent for Leather (1978)
- British Steel (1980)
- Point of Entry (1981)
- Screaming for Vengeance (1982)
- Defenders of the Faith (1984)
- Turbo (1986)
- Ram It Down (1988)
- Painkiller (1990)
- Jugulator (1997)
- Demolition (2001)
- Angel of Retribution (2005)
- Nostradamus (2008)
- "JUDAS PRIEST Announces Farewell 'Epitaph' Tour - Dec. 7, 2010". Blabbermouth.net. 7 December 2010. http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=150501&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+blabbermouth+(Blabbermouth.net's+Daily+Headlines). Retrieved 8 December 2010.