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Judas Priest

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Judas Priest
Judas Priest onstage in Moline, Illinois.
Judas Priest onstage in Moline, Illinois.
Background information
OriginBirmingham, England
GenresHeavy metal, speed metal, hard rock
Years active1969-present
MembersRob Halford
Glenn Tipton
Richie Faulkner
Ian Hill
Scott Travis
Past member(s)Including:
K. K. Downing
Al Atkins
Les Binks
Dave Holland
Tim 'Ripper' Owens

Judas Priest are an English heavy metal band. They formed in Birmingham, England in 1969. They have sold over 50 million albums. 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 came back to the band in 2003.

On 7 December 2010, the band said they would play their last concert tour during 2011.[1] They are still a band since saying that. Since then, they have made two albums: Redeemer of Souls and Firepower. In 2022, they became members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[2]

History[change | change source]

1970s[change | change source]

Forming[change | change source]

Judas Priest used to be a different band to the one that is together now. The lead singer for this old band was named Al Atkins. Around the same time, guitar player K.K. Downing and bass player Ian Hill put together their own band named Freight.[3] When they were looking for a lead singer, they found Al Atkins. Atkins' band had broken up by then, and he suggested that K.K. and Ian should rename Freight to Judas Priest. They kept 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 | change source]

Before Judas Priest recorded their first album, a second guitar player, Glenn Tipton, joined the band. Their first album, Rocka Rolla, came out in 1974.[3] It was not very successful,[4] 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 and psychedelic style that was familiar to bands like Led Zeppelin.[5]

The band's fourth album, Stained Class, sounded more like rock music. This was the first album to have drummer Les Binks, who had a drumming style that was liked by many fans.[6] It is thought of as important for improving the band's sound.[6] Their fifth album, Killing Machine (called Hell Bent for Leather in America because of the original title suggesting murder) also sounded more like rock. It had shorter songs than Stained Class. "Hell Bent for Leather" from the album is one of the band's more popular songs. Les Binks left after this album.[6]

Rob Halford in a leather outfit. The costumes Judas Priest started wearing in the 1980s had a big effect on heavy metal fashion.

It was also during the late 1970s and early 1980s that Rob Halford started putting together stage costumes made of leather and studs.[7] 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 style was not thought at the time by fans to be a symbol of homosexuality, and it was copied by many other metal bands.

1980s[change | change source]

Sucess with British Steel and similar albums[change | change source]

Les was replaced by Dave Holland, who drummed with the band on all their albums in the 1980s. 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". The next album, Point of Entry, didn't do as well.

The band's eighth album, Screaming For Vengeance, was a return to success. It had the hits "Electric Eye" and "You've Got Another Thing Coming". They then released Defenders of the Faith, which had a similar style.

Change to pop-metal sound[change | change source]

The band's tenth album, 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 received 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.

1990s[change | change source]

The trial against the band[change | change source]

In the summer of 1990, the band was involved in a trial where they were blamed for causing two young men to try to kill themselves.[8] 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 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 later.[9]

Their parents thought they heard "do it" being sung in the band's song "Better By You, Better Than Me" from Stained Class (actually a cover of a Spooky Tooth song). They said the words in the song made them shoot themselves.[8] The trial was dismissed in August 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, Halford leaves[change | change source]

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 | change source]

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 Priest 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.

2000s[change | change source]

Halford and the band make up and Demolition[change | change source]

Judas Priest in 2008. Rob Halford is singing for the band.

Halford and the rest of Judas Priest started speaking again after K.K., 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 | change source]

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.

Modern Era[change | change source]

Epitaph tour and new album[change | change source]

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 made a new album after the tour called Redeemer of Souls, which came out in 2014. The band are still touring although their tours will not last as long due to the elderly ages of some of the band members.

Discography[change | change source]

Studio albums[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Blabbermouth (2010-12-07). "JUDAS PRIEST Announces Farewell 'Epitaph' Tour". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. Retrieved 2022-10-20.
  2. Metal Hammer (2022-05-04). "At last – Judas Priest will finally make it into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame". loudersound. Retrieved 2022-10-22.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Popoff, Martin (2007). Judas Priest: Heavy Metal Painkillers : an Illustrated History. ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-55022-784-0.
  4. Judas Priest - Rocka Rolla Album Reviews, Songs & More | AllMusic, retrieved 2022-10-22
  5. Cope, Dr Andrew L. (2013-01-28). Black Sabbath and the Rise of Heavy Metal Music. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-1-4094-9398-3.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Beyond The Realms of Les Binks". K.K. Downing´s Steel Mill. Archived from the original on 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2022-10-22.
  7. "JUDAS PRIEST INFO PAGES - KILLING MACHINE". 2007-07-02. Archived from the original on 2007-07-02. Retrieved 2022-10-22.
  8. 8.0 8.1 kreidler, Marc (1996-11-01). "Scientific Consensus and Expert Testimony: Lessons from the Judas Priest Trial | Skeptical Inquirer". Retrieved 2022-10-20.
  9. Blabbermouth (2005-07-01). "The JUDAS PRIEST Trial: 15 Years Later". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. Retrieved 2022-10-20.