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Judas Priest

Judas Priest

Heavy metal group

With a dozen albums and nearly three decades of live performance behind them, Judas Priest has proven to be one of heavy metal's most enduring and imitated bands. Their head-banging beat and frenzied guitar harmonies are a concert mainstay and their wardrobe of studded leather and chains has become the fashion uniform of metal heads the world over.

Guitarist K. K. Downing and bassist Ian Hill formed Judas Priest in Birmingham, England, in 1969. Hill recruited vocalist Rob Halford in 1971, eventually marrying Halford's sister. The band performed locally for several years, eventually adding guitarist Glenn Tipton and drummer Alan Moore, and in 1974 Judas Priest signed with Gull Records and released their first album, Rocka Rolla. Though sales were low for both it and the group's next album, Sad Wings of Destiny, the band had amassed a loyal following.

In 1977 they signed with Columbia and released Sin After Sin. The album, produced by ex-Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover, featured dual lead guitar riffs and differed from most heavy metal music of the time by being shorter, with more discernable melodies. Drummer Simon Phillips replaced Moore for Sin After Sin, but only remained with the band for that one album.

Drummer Les Binks joined the band in 1978, but, like Phillips, remained for only one year. His replacement, Dave Holland, proved to be a longer-lasting addition to the band; he joined Judas Priest in 1979 and continued to play with the band for over a decade before Scott Travis took over.

Though album sales gradually increased, Judas Priest's music remained more popular in England than in the United States. Not until the group's seventh album, British Steel, did they make it to the top 40 in the United States. Screaming for Vengeance, in 1982, became the group's first gold album in the United States.

As their music received more American airplay, the band's live performances were becoming legendary among concertgoers. Roaring on stage astride a Harley Davidson, clad in studded leather and brandishing whips and chains, Halford was a commanding presence, strutting and screaming his way through songs that played off the band's thunderous wall of sound. Creem 's Toby Goldstein described the group as "a rampaging quintet of metal marauders."

By the mid-1980s Judas Priest had achieved respectability among critics and peers and many of the new metal bands cited the group as one of their early influences. The members of Judas Priest were duly flattered but made it clear they had no intention of stepping aside to make room for newer blood. With the release of Defenders of the Faith in 1984 the band embarked on a gruelling promotional tour. Goldstein described the new album: "Crammed with enough fire and fury to satisfy even the most crazed metal head, the album typifies Judas Priest's concern with crisp, distinctive leads, thundering rhythms and evennever woulda thunk itmelody lines."

The band's success in heavy metal never tempted them to cross over to more mainstream rock in search of a top ten hit. Glenn Tipton told Creem that "You have to believe in what you're doing. If you stray from it for one second, it's a sign that you're not genuine. And we are genuine. We believe in heavy metal, we've played it for ten years, we've never strayed from it."

Lyrically, Judas Priest's music had long been a subject of controversy, with many objecting to the graphic violence and fascist overtones. Ironically, it was the music's undertones that sparked a series of bizarre accusations by religious groups and concerned parents. A Christian organization leveled a charge of Satan worship against the band, claiming that when Judas Priest records were played in reverse, menacing subliminal messages could be heard. As further evidence they cited the cover of the Defenders of the Faith album, which depicted a horned animal. Judas Priest denied all allegations.

Other groups, such as the Parents' Music Resource Center (PMRC), found enough to criticize without resorting to accusations of subliminal messages. Jennifer Norwood, the PMRC executive director, told Rolling Stone, "There is no scientific proof that you pick up the lyrics that way." However, the PMRC was vocal in its criticism of Judas Priest's violent and sexually explicit lyrics, particularly those in the song "Eat Me Alive." Halford defended the oft-quoted line from that song, "I'm gonna force you to eat me at gunpoint," by claiming that it was meant to be tongue in cheek. Noting that they had censored the "really obscene" lyrics themselves, Halford told Creem, "You should've seen the original lyrics!"

For the Record . . .

Members include Les Binks (group member, 1978-79), drums; K. K. Downing , guitar; Rob Halford (group member, 1971-92, rejoined group, 2003), vocals; Ian Hill , bass; Dave Holland (group member, 1979-1989), drums; Alan Moore (group member, 1974-77), drums; Tim Owens (group member, 1996-2002), vocals; Simon Phillips (group member, 1977-78), drums; Glenn Tipton (joined group, 1974), guitar; Scott Travis (joined group, 1989), drums.

Group formed in Birmingham, England, 1969; signed first recording contract and released debut album Rocka Rolla, 1974; signed by Columbia Records, 1977; released Columbia debut Sin After Sin, 1977; released first gold album in the United States, Screaming for Vengeance, 1982; released Defenders of the Faith, 1984; frontman Rob Halford left group, 1992; new vocalist Tim Owens officially joined group, 1996; released Jugulator, 1997; Halford returned, 2003; released box set Metalogy, 2004.

Addresses: Record company Chipster Public Relations, Chipster Entertainment Inc., 1976 E. High St., Ste. 203, Pottstown, PA 19464. Website Judas Priest Official Website: http://www.judaspriest.com.

While controversy continued to follow the group, heavy metal in general and Judas Priest in particular enjoyed a surge in popularity during the 1980s, with heavy metal making up a substantial portion of MTV's rotation and metal songs rising into the Top 40 charts. The resurgence of heavy metal was largely a reaction to punk rock. J. D. Considine described the differences between the two genres in Rolling Stone: "Punk's world view lunged towards a gleeful nihilism of boredom and no future, but metal somehow clung to its underdog optimism. Sure, life sucked, the music seemed to say, but that's not the whole story. Above all, metal reminded its listeners that, good times or bad, the bands and the fans were all in it together." According to Halford, people found they preferred the metal world view: "Suddenly, everybody looked at this music and said: 'Yeah, this is exactly what I want. It talks about what I want out of life.'"

Judas Priest changed their image somewhat for their 1986 world tour. Gone were the studs and chains and S & M gear. Halford told Sylvie Simmons of Creem, "What we've done is take the strong parts of our imagethe leather and the tough, aggressive lookand we've tried to make it a bit more stylish, if that's the right word." The band made the change in part because of all the heavy metal bands that had imitated Judas Priest's look. The group also toned down their music for the 1986 release of Turbo, which featured some actual singing. Halford told Creem, "It's been my first real opportunity, given our type of songs, to sound a little bit less hysterical. Not just yelling at the top of my voice."

The conflict that had been simmering over Judas Priest's music came to a boil in 1986 when two Nevada families brought suit against CBS Records and Judas Priest, claiming that the lyrics on the band's 1978 Stained Class album had driven their sons to attempt suicide. On December 23, 1985, 18-year-old Ray Belknap and 20-year-old Jay Vance had been drinking and listening to Judas Priest albums when, reportedly, according to Vance, "all of a sudden we got a suicide message, and we got tired of life." The two went to a nearby park, and each shot himself in the head with a sawed-off shotgun. Belknap died instantly, but Vance, sustaining catastrophic injuries, survived until 1988.

When the families' lawyers learned that similar suits had been dismissed on constitutional grounds, they filed a new complaint, in 1988, claiming that engineers had found subliminal messages urging listeners to "do it." The suit averred that such a message was dangerous to unstable individuals like Vance and Belknap, both abused children and high-school dropouts with police records for various offenses. When the product-liability case came to trial in 1990, the charges against Judas Priest were dismissed. The decision was upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court on May 31, 1993.

Painkiller, Judas Priest's first album after the trial, did not back away from the band's usual frenzied style or violent lyrics. For example, "Hell Patrol" contains the following lines: "Gonna go for your throat as you choke/Then they'll vaporapeize you.... Gonna cut to the bone as you groan/And they'll paratamize you." Although not all reviewers were so harsh, Rolling Stone said of Painkiller, "Played forward or backward, this is hardly an album that will make you kill yourself; it will merely drive you to distraction."

In 1992, after 20 years as frontman for the band, Halford announcedvia a letter to the band's lawyerthat he and drummer Travis were leaving to form Fight, a heavier, more thrash-oriented band. The remaining members of Judas Priest continued without them. "We're musicians," Downing told Guitar School magazine, "it's in our blood to play music. I won't give up just because we may have lost a lead singer."

In early 1993 Judas Priest completed work on a compilation of 31 songsselections from all 12 of their albums. The collection, titled Metalworks '73-'93, was presented as a two-CD set, commemorating the group's 20-year anniversary. "This compilation," Tipton told Guitar School, "will not only sum up Judas Priest's true capabilities, it will also recall some pretty magical memories for the die-hard fans."

From 1992-1996, while Judas Priest as a band remained mostly dormant on the live and recording front, former vocalist Halford continued to work on solo endeavors. Over the year immediately following his departure through 2003, Halford put out several releases with a variety of newly formed outfits; Fight, Two, and a self-titled group, Halford, to nominal success. In 1996 however the remaining members of Judas Priest finally found a new singer with then unknown Ohio-based vocalist Tim Owens.

Owens was the frontman for a local Judas Priest cover band called British Steel when drummer Scott Travis was passed a tape through a mutual friend. Completely amazed at what they heard, the group flew Owens over to England to audition. After running through a few songs, the band was taken aback by the singer's considerable vocal abilities and Owens was immediately asked to join the group. In 1996, Owens (dubbed "Ripper" after his shining talents on the Priest track of the same name) was officially announced as the new singer of Judas Priest. The band proceeded to release Jugulator in 1997 and in 1998 embarked on their first world tour in nearly seven years.

In an odd turn of events, on the evening of the new line-up's sold-out performance at New York's Roseland Ballroom, former vocalist Halford publicly announced for first time that that he was gay. Although initially shocking to many who thought of Priest as ultra-masculine rock provocateurs especially considering their lyrical content and heavy-image, very few dismissed Halford's importance in the metal arena.

In 1998, Judas Priest released an audio momento of their first tour in many years with new vocalist Owens, titled '98 Live Meltdown. Two years later, the band released their second effort with Owens, Demolition on Atlantic Records. Unfortunately, despite some European success, Demolition didn't do very well in the states. The band proceeded to tour on and off throughout 2002, releasing the live CD and DVD Live in London in 2003.

In July of that year much to the delight of the group's long-standing fans it was announced that Rob Halford would finally reunite with Judas Priest. At the same time Owens amicably left the group. In 2004, the band released the high profile box-set Metalogy, and embarked on a much anticipated world tour with singer Halford.

Selected discography

Rocka Rolla, Gull, 1974.

Sad Wings of Destiny, Repertoire, 1976.

Sin After Sin, Columbia, 1977.

Killing Machine, Columbia, 1978.

Stained Class, Columbia, 1978.

Best of Judas Priest, RCA, 1978.

Hell Bent for Leather, Columbia, 1979.

Unleashed in the East, Columbia, 1979, reissued, 1985.

British Steel, Columbia, 1980.

Point of Entry, Columbia, 1981.

Screaming for Vengeance, Columbia, 1982.

Defenders of the Faith, Columbia, 1984.

Hero, Hero, RCA, 1985.

Turbo, Columbia, 1986.

Priest ... Live, Columbia, 1987.

Ram It Down, Columbia, 1988.

Painkiller, Columbia, 1990.

Rocka Rolla and Other Hits, RCA, 1990.

Metalworks '73-'93, Columbia, 1993.

Jugulator, CMC International, 1997.

'98 Live Meltdown, CMC International, 1998 .

Live in London, SPV, 2003.

Living After Midnight, Columbia, 2003. Metalogy, Columbia, 2004.

Sources

Books

Rees, Dafydd, and Luke Crampton, Rock Movers & Shakers, ABC/CLIO, 1991.

The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, edited by Jon Pareles and Patricia Romanowski, Rolling Stone Press/Summit, 1983.

Periodicals

Billboard, September 8, 1990; May 23, 1992; June 12, 1993.

Creem, July 1984; September 1986.

Guitar School, May 1993.

Musician, November 1990.

Rolling Stone, July 12, 1990; November 15, 1990; December 13, 1990; October 29, 1992.

Stereo Review, July 1986.

Wilson Library Bulletin, December 1990.

Online

Judas Priest Offical Website, http://www.judaspriest.com (February 6, 2004).

Additional information was obtained from press materials provided by Chipster Entertainment, 2004.

Susan Windisch Brown and Nicole Elyse

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Judas Priest

Judas Priest

Rock band

For the Record

Popularity Grew

Allegations of Satan Worship

On Trial

Selected discography

Sources

With a dozen albums and more than two decades of live performance behind them, Judas Priest has proven to be one of heavy metals most enduring and imitated bands. Their head-banging beat and frenzied guitar harmonies are a concert mainstay and their wardrobe of studded leather and chains has become the fashion uniform of metal heads the world over.

Guitarist K. K. Downing and bassist Ian Hill formed Judas Priest in Birmingham, England, in 1969. Hill recruited vocalist Rob Halford in 1971, eventually marrying Halfords sister. The band performed locally for several years, eventually adding guitarist Glenn Tipton and drummer Alan Moore, and in 1974 Judas Priest signed with Gull Records and released their first album, Rocka Rolla. Though sales were low for both it and the groups next album, Sad Wings of Destiny, the band had amassed a loyal following.

In 1977 they signed with Columbia and released Sin After Sin. The album, produced by ex-Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover, featured dual lead guitar riffs and

For the Record

Original members include K. K. Downing , guitar, and Ian Hill , bass. Later members include Rob Halford (bandmember 1971-92), vocals; Alan Moore (bandmember 1974-77), drums; Glenn Tipton (joined band 1974), guitar; Simon Phillips (bandmember 1977-78), drums; Les Binks (bandmember 1978-79), drums; and Dave Holland (joined band 1979), drums.

Group formed in Birmingham, England, 1969; signed first recording contract and released debut album, 1974; signed by Columbia Records, 1977.

Addresses: Record company Columbia Records, 51 West 52nd St., New York, NY 10019.

differed from most heavy metal music of the time by being shorter, with more discernable melodies. Drummer Simon Phillips replaced Moore for Sin After Sin, but only remained with the band for that one album. Drummer Les Binks joined the band in 1978, but, like Phillips, remained for only one year. His replacement, Dave Holland, proved to be a longer-lasting addition to the band; he joined Judas Priest in 1979 and continued to play with the band for over a decade before Scott Travis took over.

Popularity Grew

Though album sales gradually increased, Judas Priests music remained more popular in England than in the United States. Not until the groups seventh album, British Steel, did they make it to the U.S. Top 40. Screaming for Vengeance, in 1982, became the groups first gold album in the United States.

As their music received more American airplay, the bands live performances were becoming legendary among concertgoers. Roaring on stage astride a Harley Davidson, clad in studded leather and brandishing whips and chains, Halford was a commanding presence, strutting and screaming his way through songs that played off the bands thunderous wall of sound. Creems Toby Goldstein described the group as a rampaging quintet of metal marauders.

By the mid-1980s Judas Priest had achieved respectability among critics and peers and many of the new metal bands cited the group as one of their early influences. The members of Judas Priest were duly flattered but made it clear they had no intention of stepping aside to make room for newer blood. With the release of Defenders of the Faith in 1984 the band embarked on a gruelling promotional tour. Goldstein described the new album: Crammed with enough fire and fury to satisfy even the most crazed metal head, the album typifies Judas Priests concern with crisp, distinctive leads, thundering rhythms and evennever woulda thunk itmelody lines.

The bands success in heavy metal never tempted them to cross over to more mainstream rock in search of a Top Ten hit. Glenn Tipton told Creem that You have to believe in what youre doing. If you stray from it for one second, its a sign that youre not genuine. And we are genuine. We believe in heavy metal, weve played it for ten years, weve never strayed from it.

Allegations of Satan Worship

Lyrically, Judas Priests music had long been a subject of controversy, with many objecting to the graphic violence and fascist overtones. Ironically, it was the musics undertones that sparked a series of bizarre accusations by religious groups and concerned parents. A Christian organization leveled a charge of Satan worship against the band, claiming that when Judas Priest records were played in reverse, menacing subliminal messages could be heard. As further evidence they cited the cover of the Defenders of the Faith album, which depicted a horned animal. Judas Priest denied all allegations.

Other groups, such as the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), found enough to criticize without resorting to accusations of subliminal messages. Jennifer Norwood, the PMRC executive director, told Rolling Stone, There is no scientific proof that you pick up the lyrics that way. However, the PMRC was vocal in its criticism of Judas Priests violent and sexually explicit lyrics, particularly those in the song Eat Me Alive. Halford defended the oft-quoted line from that song, Im gonna force you to eat me at gunpoint, by claiming that it was meant to be tongue in cheek. Noting that they had censured the really obscene lyrics themselves, Halford told Creem, You shouldve seen the original lyrics!

While controversy continued to follow the group, heavy metal in general and Judas Priest in particular enjoyed a surge in popularity during the 1980s, with heavy metal making up a substantial portion of MTVs rotation and metal songs rising into the Top 40 charts. The resurgence of heavy metal was largely a reaction to punk rock. J. D. Considine described the differences between the two genres in Rolling Stone: Punks world view lunged towards a gleeful nihilism of boredom and no future, but metal somehow clung to its underdog optimism. Sure, life sucked, the music seemed to say, but thats not the whole story. Above all, metal reminded its listeners that, good times or bad, the bands and the fans were all in it together. According to Halford, people found they preferred the metal world view: Suddenly, everybody looked at this music and said: Yeah, this is exactly what I want. It talks about what I want out of life.

Judas Priest changed their image somewhat for their 1986 world tour. Gone were the studs and chains and S & M gear. Halford told Sylvie Simmons of Creem, What weve done is take the strong parts of our imagethe leather and the tough, aggressive lookand weve tried to make it a bit more stylish, if thats the right word. The band made the change in part because of all the heavy metal bands that had imitated Judas Priests look. The group also toned down their music for the 1986 release of Turbo, which featured some actual singing. Halford told Creem, Its been my first real opportunity, given our type of songs, to sound a little bit less hysterical. Not just yelling at the top of my voice.

On Trial

The conflict that had been simmering over Judas Priests music came to a boil in 1986 when two Nevada families brought suit against CBS Records and Judas Priest, claiming that the lyrics on the bands 1978 Stained Class album had driven their sons to attempt suicide. On December 23, 1985, 18-year-old Ray Belknap and 20-year-old Jay Vance had been drinking and listening to Judas Priest albums when, reportedly, according to Vance, all of a sudden we got a suicide message, and we got tired of life. The two went to a nearby park, and each shot himself in the head with a sawed-off shotgun. Belknap died instantly, but Vance, sustaining catastrophic injuries, survived until 1988.

When the families lawyers learned that similar suits had been dismissed on constitutional grounds, they filed a new complaint, in 1988, claiming that engineers had found subliminal messages urging listeners to do it. The suit averred that such a message was dangerous to unstable individuals like Vance and Belknap, both abused children and high-school dropouts with police records for various offenses. When the product-liability case came to trial in 1990, the charges against Judas Priest were dismissed. The decision was upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court on May 31, 1993.

Painkiller, Judas Priests first album after the trial, did not back away from the bands usual frenzied style or violent lyrics. For example, Hell Patrol contains the following lines: Gonna go for your throat as you choke/Then theyll vaporapeize you. ... Gonna cut to the bone as you groan/And theyll paratamize you. Although not all reviewers were so harsh, Rolling Stone said of Painkiller, Played forward or backward, this is hardly an album that will make you kill yourself; it will merely drive you to distraction.

In 1992, after 20 years as frontman for the band, Halford announcedvia a letter to the bands lawyer that he and drummer Travis were leaving to form Fight, a heavier, more thrash-oriented band. His future plans with Judas Priest were unclear. Remaining members Hill, Tipton, and Downing have vowed to continue without Halford. Were musicians, Downing told Guitar School magazine, its in our blood to play music. I wont give up just because we may have lost a lead singer.

In early 1993 Judas Priest completed work on a compilation of 31 songsselections from all 12 of their albums. The collection, titled Metalworks 73-93, will be presented as a two-CD set, commemorating the groups 20-year anniversary. This compilation, Tipton told Guitar School, will not only sum up Judas Priests true capabilities, it will also recall some pretty magical memories for the die-hard fans.

Selected discography

Rocka Rolla, Gull, 1974, reissued, RCA.

Sad Wings of Destiny, 1976, reissued, RCA.

Sin After Sin, Columbia, 1977.

Killing Machine, Columbia, 1978.

Stained Class, Columbia, 1978.

Best of Judas Priest, RCA, 1978.

Hell Bent for Leather, Columbia, 1979.

Unleashed in the East, 1979, reissued, Columbia, 1985.

British Steel, Columbia, 1980.

Point of Entry, Columbia, 1981.

Screaming for Vengeance, Columbia, 1982.

Defenders of the Faith, Columbia, 1984.

Hero, Hero, RCA, 1985.

Turbo, Columbia, 1986.

Priest... Live, Columbia, 1987.

Ram It Down, Columbia, 1988.

Painkiller, Columbia, 1990.

Rocka Rolla and Other Hits, RCA, 1990.

Metalworks 73-93, Columbia, 1993.

Beyond Metal, IMG.

Trouble Shooters, IMG.

Sources

Books

Rees, Dafydd, and Luke Crampton, Rock Movers & Shakers, ABC/CLIO, 1991.

The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, edited by Jon Pareles and Patricia Romanowski, Rolling Stone Press/Summit Books, 1983.

Periodicals

Billboard, September 8, 1990; May 23, 1992; June 12, 1993.

Creem, July 1984; September 1986.

Guitar School, May 1993.

Musician, November 1990.

Rolling Stone, July 12, 1990; November 15, 1990; December 13, 1990; October 29, 1992.

Stereo Review, July 1986.

Wilson Library Bulletin, December 1990.

Susan Windisch Brown

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Judas Priest

Judas Priest

Rock band Judas Priest, originally British, gained national recognition in the United States in the 1980s. They were one of the first such groups to be associated exclusively with the term "Heavy Metal" and their onstage theatrics included motorcycle rides, pyrotechnics, and the wearing of leather outfits with chain and spike accessories. Their music evoked a dark fantasy world where rugged heroes wandered in ruined landscapes and defeated evil forces. A decade of hard rock was shaped by the image and message of Judas Priest, and their influence permeated to new forms of rock in the 1990s.

The band was officially formed in 1969 when the original British Invasion of groups such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Yardbirds slowed down and made way for American rockers. The original members of Judas Priest hailed from Birmingham in the industrial midlands of England, where Black Sabbath and many other British hard rock groups got their start. Judas Priest's first American record release, 1977's "Sin after Sin," gained them only a cult following in the United States, and it was not until their album British Steel, released in 1980, that the band received significant air play with the singles "Living After Midnight" and "Breaking the Law"—loud and simple party anthems that showcased vocalist Rob Halford's alternately growling and screaming voice. 1982's "Screamin' for Vengeance" featured Judas Priest's typical mix of machismo and futuristic doom and was their largest success to date, while their throaty tribute to pride and revenge, "You Got Another Thing Comin,"' entered the pop charts and was the band's first successful video.

In 1985, Judas Priest was cited in a suit filed by Tipper Gore's Parental Music Resource Center as being influential in several highly publicized suicide pacts. The secret messages found in their songs "Let's Be Dead" and "Do It" were presented as evidence, and although no direct link was ever established, the case attests to Judas Priest's stature as a figurehead for the genre of Heavy Metal. The band survived this legal onslaught and several lineup shifts during the 1990s, continuing to release new work 30 years after their inception. Younger Heavy Metal groups expanded, diversified, and absorbed enough mainstream norms to sell records, but Judas Priest remained loud and angry, true to their roots.

Priest's formula for success—aggressive presentation, operatic screams, extended guitar solos, allusions to mythology and apocalypse—would be adopted and adapted by many other acts over the next decade. Their guitarists K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton had long bleached hair; Halford had impressive biceps to match his clenched teeth, and rode his Harley-Davidson on stage as the last encore for each elaborate concert. They tapped into a mysterious suburban longing—young record-buying white males seemed particularly attuned to Judas Priest's territorial posing and violent fantasies. Judas Priest was one of the first Heavy Metal bands to expand successfully beyond the comfortable realm of mammoth concerts and album sales; they cracked the MTV market in an age where pop and new wave dominated the channel, and managed somehow to maintain a reputation as purists and outsiders even at the height of their commercial success. Grunge musicians of the next generation often mentioned Judas Priest as a primary influence, and "Breakin' the Law" found new cult life when MTV's Beavis and Butthead air-guitared regularly to the song in the 1990s. Rarely has a musical act so consistently and unabashedly typified a late twentieth-century style of musical expression.

—Colby Vargas

Further Reading:

Gett, Steve. Judas Priest, Heavy Duty: The Official Biography. Port Chester, New York, Cherry Lane Books, 1984.

"The Judas Priest Homepage." http://www.judaspriest.com. April 1999.

Weinstein, Deena. Heavy Metal: A Cultural Sociology. Lexington, Lexington Books, 1991.

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Judas Priest

Judas Priest

Judas Priest, the archetypal heavy metal band; f. 1969. Membership: Kenneth “KK” Downing, gtr. (b. West Midlands, England, Oct. 27, 1951);Ian Hill, bs. (b. West Midlands, England, Jan. 20, 1952); Rob Halford, voc. (b. Birmingham, England, Aug. 25, 1951); Glenn Tipton, gtr. (b. West Midlands, England, Oct. 25, 1949); John Hinch, Alan Moore, Simon Phillips, Les Binks, Dave Holland, Scott Travis, drms. Formed in Birmingham, England, Judas Priest took their name from the Bob Dylan song “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest,” Beyond a cover of Joan Baez’s musical recollection of her relationship with Dylan, “Diamonds and Rust,” it was the closest they would come to the bard of Bleeker Street, or for that matter, ballads. By 1971, the band was gigging regularly through England with various vocalists and drummers. The group merged with another band called Hiroshima in 1973, taking on their drummer and singer, a theatrical lighting engineer named Rob Halford. In 1974, guitarist Glenn Tipton filled out the lineup. Together with Downing, Tipton created the pummeling dual guitar leads that, along with Halford’s near castrato tenor, became the group’s musical trademarks. They signed with a small U.K. company called Gull, releasing Rocka Rolla in 1974. Their road itinerary that year featured an appearance at the Reading Festival, which brought their music to a wider audience. They cut Sad Wings of Destiny, which earned good reviews, but didn’t sell especially well. It did bring them to the attention of CBS Records, however, and the group signed with the worldwide major label in 1977. They went into the studio with former Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover, cutting Sin after Sin.The album captured the band’s raw aggression, even in the aforementioned cover of “Diamonds and Rust.” A year later, they put out Stained Class.When the band wasn’t recording, they were on the road, though now their purview had expanded: they toured North America and Europe and were huge in Japan. Yet they had yet to have anything like a hit.

That began to change as the band celebrated its tenth anniversary with the release of Hell Bent for Leather.The single, “Take on the World,” hit the British Top Ten, and the album scraped into the Top 100 in the U.S., selling three times as much as their previous work. They went on their first headlining tour, with all the bells and whistles and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that Halford road onto the stage every night to thunderous applause. The album cracked the U.S. Top 50. This led to their breakthrough album, 1980’s British Steel A 30-city U.K.tour sold out three months in advance. The single “Living after Midnight” became a U.K. Top Ten and a staple at U.S. album rock stations. The video for the next single, “Breaking the Law,” fell into rotation at MTV. The album peaked at #34 in the U.S. and went platinum. This success continued with their next album, Point of Entry.This time, the video for “Heading out to the Highway” led radio and sent the album to #39 and gold status in the U.S. With Screaming for Vengeance, the band reached their popular and musical apex. The song “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” remains their most popular on album rock. The tour sold out arenas, with a stage that included nearly 500 lights, many pyrotechnic effects, and hydraulic platforms that lifted the band. The album reached #17 and went platinum. The momentum continued with Defenders of the Faith, which reached #18 and went platinum. However, after 15 years of non-stop touring, the band took a year off to regroup and retool. What they came up with was Turbo, an album that reflected their heavy metal roots, but also paid tribute to the burgeoning new wave. The album featured guitar synthesizers. All but diehard fans saw this as a sell-out and the album tanked.

The band took little time making it up to the fans. Their live video and double live album, Priest…Live!, presented the band in all their leather and spectacle, with tunes from the heavy metal (as in gold and platinum) albums of the 1980s. The album went to #38. They continued the trend in 1988 with Ram It Down, which added a touch of thrash to the mix. It went to gold, topping out at #31. They continued the raw power approach with Painkiller.It also went gold and rose to #26. Before they could release another album, the band suffered two setbacks. Halford left the band to work on his own projects. Beyond that, the band found itself in court defending their music against charges that backwards masked messages had caused two fans to attempt suicide (one successfully). The case kept them in and out of court for three years, but they eventually won.

For their 20th anniversary with CBS, the band put out Metal Works, a collection of their favorite songs. In 1996, Tipton recorded his own solo album, assuring fans that it was just a side project. Then the group went about looking for a new singer to replace Halford. The singer was found in an unusual way. Tim Owens was brought to the band’s attention when the band’s current drummer’s girlfriend caught him playing in a Judas Priest tribute band and videotaped the show. The group was suitably impressed and brought him over for an audition. Suddenly, the guy who was selling office supplies by day and singing in a Judas Priest tribute band by night was a member of the real thing! The group recorded Jugulator with Owens, nicknamed Ripper, and went on tour. After over 30 years, they may have slowed down the pace, but they haven’t turned down the volume. As Tipton once put it, “We’re all normal guys in Priest, but we become something special when we don the leather and go out there and play.”

Judas Priest was arguably the first band to consciously play heavy metal. Though their leather and studs image might seem even quaint now, it was revolutionary and even shocking in its time. Their rotating drummer’s throne and chauvinistic, band-centric personalities in interviews were the model for the mock-rock band Spinal Tap. However, over a quarter century in the trenches has earned Judas Priest a near rabid following.

Discography

Rocka Rolla (1974); Sad Wings of Destiny (1976); Sin after Sin (1977); Killing Machine (1978); Stained Class (1978); Unleashed in the East (Live in Japan) (1979); Hell Bent for Leather (1979); Hero, Hero (1979); British Steel (1980); Point of Entry (1981); Screaming for Vengeance (1982); Love Bites (1984); Sin after Sin/Stained Class (1984); Defenders of the Faith (1984); Judas Priest (1986); Turbo (1986); Priest…Live! (1987); Ram It Down (1988); Painkiller (1990); Beyond Metal (1992); Trouble Shooter (1992); Jugulator (1997); 98 Live Meltdown (1998).

—Brock Helander

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Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

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Notes:
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