Thursday, June 18, 2009
Judas Priest are an English heavy metal band from Birmingham, formed in 1969. Judas Priest's core line-up consists of bass player Ian Hill, vocalist Rob Halford and guitarists Glenn Tipton and K. K. Downing; their current drummer is Scott Travis. They have been cited as an influence on many heavy metal musicians and bands. Their popularity and status as one of the definitive heavy metal bands has earned them the nickname "Metal Gods" from their song of the same name.They have sold over 35 million albums worldwide.
K. K. Downing and Ian Hill had known each other since early childhood, as they lived near one another and attended the same nursery and school in West Bromwich. They became close friends in their early teens, when they shared similar musical interests (Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Cream, The Yardbirds) and learned to play instruments. The band was founded in 1969 in Birmingham, England, after a local ensemble named Judas Priest (after Bob Dylan's song "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" from the John Wesley Harding album) split up. The band's singer Al Atkins approached Downing and Hill, who were playing as a power trio with drummer John Ellis and asked if he could become their singer. With Atkins now in the band, Downing suggested they change their name to Judas Priest as he had been a fan of the original band.
With Downing as acting leader, the band moved away from their original blues influences to play heavy rock and what would later come to be defined as early heavy metal. This quartet played around Birmingham and the surrounding areas with various drummers until 1974, sometimes opening for bands such as Budgie, Thin Lizzy and Trapeze. Eventually, financial difficulties and problems with their management, Tony Iommi's company, IMA, led to the departure of Alan Atkins and drummer Alan Moore.
At the time, Ian Hill was dating a woman from the nearby town of Walsall who suggested her brother, Rob Halford, be considered as a singer. Halford joined the band, bringing drummer John Hinch from his previous band, Hiroshima. This line-up toured in the UK, often supporting Budgie, and even headlining some shows in Norway and Germany.
Before the band entered the studio to record their first album, their record company suggested they add another musician to the line-up. As Downing was reluctant to incorporate a keyboard or horn player into the band, he chose another guitarist, Glenn Tipton, from the Stafford-based Flying Hat Band as their new member. The two guitarists worked together to adapt the existing material and Tipton also received credits as a song writer. In August 1974, the band released their debut single "Rocka Rolla" and followed this a month later with an album of the same name.
Technical problems during the recording contributed to the poor sound quality of the record. Producer Rodger Bain, whose CV included Black Sabbath's first three albums as well as Budgie's first album, dominated the production of the album and made decisions with which the band did not agree. Bain also chose to leave fan favourites from the band's live set, such as "Tyrant," "Genocide" and "The Ripper," off the album and he cut the song "Caviar and Meths" from a 10-minute song down to a 2-minute instrumental.
The band participated more in the production of their next album, recorded during January and February 1976, and chose the producers themselves. The result, Sad Wings of Destiny (1976), included a variety of old material, including the aforementioned stage favorites and the epic "Victim of Changes". This song was a combination of "Whiskey Woman", a stage classic from the Al Atkins' era of Judas Priest and "Red Light Lady" a song that Halford had written with his previous group, Hiroshima. This album and a strong performance at the 1975 Reading Festival helped to raise wider interest in the band and extend their fanbase.
For their next album, 1977's Sin After Sin the band chose to use session drummer Simon Phillips for the recordings. For the following tour Les (James Leslie) Binks played with the band who were impressed with his performance and asked him to stay. Together they recorded 1978's Stained Class and Killing Machine (released in America as Hell Bent for Leather). Binks, credited with writing the very powerful "Beyond the Realms of Death", was an accomplished and technically skilled drummer and his performance added to the band's overall sound. Binks also played on Unleashed in the East which was recorded live in Japan during the Killing Machine tour. Compared with previous records Killing Machine had shorter songs with increased commercial appeal while still retaining the band's heavy metal punch.
Following the release of Killing Machine, and the live release from the supporting tour, entitled Unleashed in the East. It was the first of many Judas Priest albums to go Platinum. At the time, there was some criticism of the bands' use of studio-enhancements and overdubbing in what was marketed as a live album. Nonetheless, many early Priest classics are recorded here, such as "Victim of Changes", "Tyrant", "Genocide", and "The Ripper".
After Les Binks quit, in part because of the band's direction, the band replaced him with Dave Holland, formerly from the band Trapeze. With this line-up, Judas Priest recorded six studio and one live album which garnered different degrees of critical and financial success. Overall, the band has sold in excess of 30 million albums globally.
In 1980, the band released British Steel. The songs were shorter and had more mainstream radio hooks, but retained the heavy metal feel. Tracks such as "United", "Breaking the Law", and "Living After Midnight" were frequently played on the radio. The next release, 1981's Point of Entry, followed the same formula, but critics generally panned it. However, the tour in support was successful, with new songs such as "Solar Angels" and "Heading Out to the Highway".
The 1982 album Screaming for Vengeance featured the song "You've Got Another Thing Comin'", which garnered strong US radio airplay. Songs such as "Electric Eye" and "Riding on the Wind" also appeared off this album, and proved to be popular live tracks. "(Take These) Chains" (by Bob Halligan, Jr.) was released as a single and received heavy airplay. This album went two times Platinum.
Defenders of the Faith was released in 1984. Even though it was more progressive than their earlier efforts, some critics dubbed it as "Screaming for Vengeance II", due to its musical likeness to the previous album.
On July 13, 1985, Judas Priest was - apart from Black Sabbath - the only metal band to perform at the Live Aid event. The band played at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. Their setlist was "Living After Midnight", "The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)" and "(You've Got) Another Thing Comin'".
Turbo was released in 1986, during the glam metal era. To keep up with the times, Priest adopted a more colourful look and gave their music a more poppy feel by adding synthesisers. The album also went Platinum and had a successful tour in support, but some critics argued the album was a sellout. A live album recorded on the tour, titled Priest...Live!, was released the next year, offering fans live tracks from the 1980s era. The video documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot was created by Jeff Krulik and John Heyn in 1986. It documents the heavy metal fans waiting on May 31, 1986 for a Judas Priest concert (with special guests Dokken) at the Capital Centre (later renamed US Airways Arena) in Landover, Maryland.
In 1988, Ram It Down was released, featuring several reworked songs left over from Turbo, in addition to new songs. A reviewer has called Ram It Down a "stylistic evolution" that resulted from the band's "...attempt to rid themselves of the tech synthesiser approach...and return to the traditional metal of their fading glory days." The reviewer argued the album showed "...how far behind they were lagging...the thrashers they helped influence" in earlier years. As well, in the late 1980s, longtime drummer Dave Holland left the band.
In 1990, the Painkiller album used a new drummer, Scott Travis (formerly from Racer X). This comeback album dropped the 1980s-style synthesisers for all of the songs except a ballad entitled "A Touch of Evil." The tour used bands such as Pantera, Megadeth and Sepultura as opening bands, and culminated in the Rock in Rio performance in Brazil in front of 100,000+ music fans.
Part of the Judas Priest stage show often featured Rob Halford riding onstage on a Harley-Davidson motorbike, dressed in motorcycle leathers and sunglasses. In a Toronto show in 1991, Halford was seriously injured as he rode on stage, when he collided with a drum riser that was hidden behind clouds of dry ice mist. Although the show was delayed, he performed the entire set before going to hospital. Hill later noted "he must have been in agony". He later claimed the accident helped to prompt his departure from the band. For nearly five years, Priest remained in the shadows, with no release to top Painkiller.
In the summer of 1990, the band was involved in a civil action that alleged they were responsible for the self-inflicted gunshot wounds in 1985 of 20-year old James Vance and 18-year old Raymond Belknap in Reno, Nevada, USA. On December 23, 1985 Vance and Belknap, after hours of drinking beer, smoking marijuana and listening to Judas Priest music, went to a playground at a church in Reno with a 12-gauge shotgun to end their lives. Belknap decapitated himself; then Vance followed, but the weapon was very slippery by then and he survived with a grotesquely disfigured face. He died three years later from an overdose of painkillers.
The men's parents and their legal team alleged that a subliminal message of "do it" had been included in the Judas Priest song "Better By You, Better Than Me" from the Stained Class album (actually a cover of a Spooky Tooth number). They alleged the command in the song triggered the suicide attempt. The trial lasted from July 16 to August 24, 1990, when the suit was dismissed. One of the defense witnesses, Dr Timothy E. Moore, wrote an article for Skeptical Inquirer chronicling the trial.
The trial was covered in the 1991 documentary Dream Deceivers: The Story Behind James Vance Vs. Judas Priest. In the documentary Halford commented that, if they wanted to insert subliminal commands in their music, killing their fans would be counterproductive and they would prefer to insert the command "Buy more of our records." Regarding the plaintiff's assertions that the statement "do it" was a command to commit suicide, Halford pointed out "do it" had no direct message.
After the end of the Painkiller tour in 1991, Halford left Judas Priest. In September 1991, there were indications of internal tensions within the band. Halford went on to form a street-style thrash metal group named Fight in the summer of 1993 with Scott Travis on drums for the recording sessions. He formed this band due to his desire to explore new musical territory, but due to contractual obligations, he left Judas Priest in May 1992.
Halford collaborated with Judas Priest in the release of a compilation album entitled Metal Works '73-'93 to commemorate their 20th anniversary. He also appeared in a video by the same title, documenting their history, in which his departure from the band was officially announced later that year.
In a 1998 interview on MTV, Halford also revealed his homosexuality, but it came as little surprise to fans or Halford's former bandmates.
Tim "Ripper" Owens, who had previously sung in a Judas Priest tribute band called British Steel, was hired in 1996 as Judas Priest's new singer. This line up released two albums, Jugulator and Demolition as well as two live double-albums - '98 Live Meltdown and Live in London, the latter of which had a live DVD counterpart. Jugulator sold relatively well but Demolition did not sit well with fans or mainstream alike; most believed Ripper could not be a true replacement for Halford's vocal abilities.
Owens' move from fan and weekend tribute band singer to frontman for the actual band was the inspiration for the film Rock Star. Because the film's content bore only a tangential resemblance to Owens's actual history with the band, Judas Priest later moved to disassociate themselves from the film. The film (starring Mark Wahlberg) was a critical and commercial flop, though the fictional band portrayed in the film - Steel Dragon - achieved a cult status among some heavy metal and Judas Priest fans.
On August 15, 2002 PETA, an animal rights group, sent the band's management a request to stop wearing leather onstage. It was even reported that they asked the band to change the name of their Hell Bent for Leather album to Hell Bent for Pleather. Judas Priest responded that they wear artificial leather, but PETA still protested that this could encourage listeners to wear real leather.
After almost twelve years apart, as well as an ever-growing demand for a reunion, Judas Priest and original lead vocalist Rob Halford announced they would reunite in July 2003, to coincide with the release of the Metalogy box set. They did a live concert tour in Europe in 2004, and co-headlined the 2004 Ozzfest, being named as the "premier act" by almost all U.S. media coverage of the event.
A new studio album, Angel of Retribution, was released on March 1, 2005 (U.S.) on Sony Music/Epic Records to critical and commercial success. A global tour in support of the album ensued, and was hugely successful. Judas Priest and "Ripper" Owens parted amicably, with Owens joining American heavy metal band Iced Earth.
As for the band Halford, writing for the fourth release was cut off. However, after the Retribution tour in June 2006, Halford announced he would create his own record company, entitled Metal God Entertainment, where he would release all his solo material under his own control. In November 2006 he remastered his back catalog and released it exclusively through Apple's iTunes Store. Two new songs allegedly set for the fourth release, "Forgotten Generation" and "Drop Out", were released through iTunes as well.
1.Judas Priest-Breaking the Law
2.Judas Priest-Living After Midnight
4.Judas Priest-Prisoner Of Your Eyes