Judas Priest is a British heavy metal band formed in Birmingham, England in 1969. Known for twin lead guitars, a wide operatic vocal style, and for introducing the S&M leather-and-studs look into heavy metal, they have sold over 50 million albums worldwide.
After an early career as a secondary act dogged by unsympathetic producers and line-up changes, the band found considerable commercial success in the 1980s. In 1989, they were named as defendants in an unsuccessful lawsuit alleging that subliminal messages on their albums had caused the suicide attempts of two young men.
The band's membership has seen much turnover, including a revolving cast of drummers in the 1970s, and the temporary departure of singer Rob Halford in the early 1990s. The current line-up consists of lead vocalist Rob Halford, guitarists Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner, bassist Ian Hill, and drummer Scott Travis. The band's best-selling album is 1982's Screaming for Vengeance featuring their most commercially successful line-up, Rob Halford (lead vocals), K. K. Downing (guitar), Glenn Tipton (guitar), Ian Hill (bass), and Dave Holland (drums). The band has been working on a new album, expected to be released sometime in 2013.
Heavily referenced as a major influence on multiple genres of metal, including but not limited to power metal and thrash metal, the band is widely lauded as the "metal gods". Their influence, while mainly Rob Halford's operatic vocal style and the twin guitar sound of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton, is seen in countless bands. Their image of leather, spikes, and other taboo articles of clothing were widely influential during the glam metal era of the 1980's. Their 1980 album, British Steel, has been referred to as the "record that, more than any other, codified what we mean by "heavy metal". Despite a decline in exposure during the mid 90's, the band has once again seen a major resurgence, including worldwide tours, being inaugural inductees into the VH1 Rock Honors in 2005, receiving a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2010, and their songs featuring in major video games such as Guitar Hero and the Rock Band series.
K. K. Downing, Ian Hill, and John Ellis had known each other since early childhood growing up on the Yew Tree estate in West Bromwich. They attended Churchfields Sch. at All Saints in W. Bromwich. Downing and Hill became close friends in their early teens, when they shared similar musical interests (Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Cream, The Yardbirds) and learned to play instruments. The band was founded in October 1970 in Birmingham, West Midlands, England, after a local ensemble named Judas Priest (from Bob Dylan's song "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest") disbanded.
Al Atkins approached Downing and Hill, who were playing as the power trio Freight, with drummer Ellis (born 19 September 1951, Yew Tree Estate, West Bromwich, Staffordshire) and asked if he could become their singer. With Atkins in the band, he suggested they change their name to Judas Priest. The original Judas Priest had formed in early September 1969 by Al Atkins (lead vocals) and Bruno Stapenhill (bass, born Brian Stapenhill, in 1948, Stone Cross, W. Bromwich), with lead guitar player Ernie Chataway (born Ernest Chataway, in 1952, in Winson Green, Birmingham, Warwickshire) and drummer John Partridge (born c. 1948, W. Bromwich). Stappenhill came up with the name Judas Priest and they rehearsed at his house in Stone Cross. The band played their first gig on 25 November 1969 at The George Hotel in Walsall, Staffordshire and then toured Scotland in December 1969 and January 1970. This band split in April 1970 after their last gig on 20 April at The Youth Centre in Cannock, Staffordshire. Atkins met the next line-up of Judas Priest at a church called St. James in Wednesbury, near W. Bromwich. This place was called Holy Joe's by the locals and here Atkins met lead guitarist Kenny Downing, bassist Ian 'Skull' Hill, and drummer John Ellis. They had a band called Freight (April–October 1970) and were looking for a singer; they agreed to join with Atkins, who suggested using his old band's name Judas Priest. They rehearsed at Atkins' mother-in-law's house in Stone Cross. The new line-up of Atkins, Downing, Hill, and Ellis played their first gig on 16 March 1971 at St John's Hall, Essington, S. Staffordshire.
With Downing as acting leader, the band moved away from their original blues influences to play hard rock. 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 in May 1973.
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 the UK, often supporting Budgie, and even headlining some shows in Norway and Germany.
Rocka Rolla (1974–1975)
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 lead guitarist, Glenn Tipton in April 1974, 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 resume 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 tour for "Rocka Rolla" was Judas Priest's first international tour with dates in Germany, Holland, Norway and Denmark including one show at Hotel Klubben in Tönsberg, one hour from Oslo, Norway which scored them a somewhat negative review in the local press
Sad Wings of Destiny (1975–1977)
The band participated more in the production of their next album, recorded during November and December 1975, and chose the producers themselves. The result, Sad Wings of Destiny (1976), included a variety of old material, including the aforementioned stage favourites 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.
Les Binks period (1977–1979)
For their next album, 1977's Sin After Sin, produced by ex-Deep Purple bass player Roger Glover, 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 addition added a dexterous edge to the band's 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. At about the same time, the band members adopted their now-famous "leather-and-studs" image
Mainstream success (1979–1991)
Following the release of Killing Machine was 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 band's use of studio-enhancements and overdubbing in what was marketed as a live album.
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.
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 Double 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 similarity to the previous album.
On 13 July 1985, Judas Priest, along with Black Sabbath and other performers, played at Live Aid. 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 April 1986. The band adopted a more colourful stage look and gave their music a more mainstream feel by adding guitar synthesisers. The album also went Platinum and had a successful tour in support. 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 31 May 1986 for a Judas Priest concert (with special guests Dokken) at the Capital Centre (later renamed US Airways Arena) in Landover, Maryland.
In May 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 September 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 Touch of Evil". The tour used bands such as Megadeth, Pantera, Sepultura and Testament 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 August 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 a hospital. Hill later noted "he must have been in agony". In a 2007 interview Rob later claimed the accident had nothing to do with his departure from the band.
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 Sparks, Nevada, USA. On 23 December 1985, Vance and Belknap, after hours of drinking beer, smoking marijuana and allegedly listening to Judas Priest, went to a playground at a church in Sparks with a 12-gauge shotgun to end their lives. Belknap was the first to place the shotgun under his chin. He died instantly after pulling the trigger. Vance then shot himself but survived, suffering severe facial injuries. Following numerous complications, Vance too passed away three years after the shooting.
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 16 July to 24 August 1990, when the suit was dismissed. One of the defence 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.
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 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 and to Halford's bandmates, who had previously known and been supportive yet were reluctant to let him come out in previous years in order to protect the image of him and the band.
Ripper Owens (1996–2003)
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. Although Jugulator sold relatively well, it was given mixed reviews; it contains the epic "Cathedral Spires", which became one of Ripper's more popular songs. Demolition (2001) was generally considered another disappointment, although holding some memorable tracks.
After eleven years apart, faced with an ever-growing demand for a reunion, Judas Priest and Rob Halford announced they would reunite in July 2003, to coincide with the release of the Metalogy box set (despite Halford's earlier insistence that he "would never do it"). They did a 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. Judas Priest and "Ripper" Owens parted amicably, with Owens joining American heavy metal band Iced Earth.
A new studio album, Angel of Retribution, was released on 1 March 2005 (U.S.) on Sony Music/Epic Records to critical and commercial success. A global tour in support of the album ensued, and was successful.
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 catalogue 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.
Along with Queen, Kiss and Def Leppard, Judas Priest were the inaugural inductees into the "VH1 Rock Honors". The ceremony took place 25 May 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and first aired on 31 May 2006. Their presentation was preceded by the band Godsmack performing a medley of "Electric Eye"/"Victim of Changes"/"Hell Bent for Leather", and Judas Priest themselves played "Breaking the Law", "The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)" and "You've Got Another Thing Comin'", before which Halford rode a Harley onstage.
In a June 2006 interview with MTV.com, frontman Rob Halford said in regards to the group's concept album about the 16th-century French writer Nostradamus, "Nostradamus is all about metal, isn't he? He was an alchemist as well as a seer – a person of extraordinary talent. He had an amazing life that was full of trial and tribulation and joy and sorrow. He's a very human character and a world-famous individual. You can take his name and translate it into any language and everybody knows about him, and that's important because we're dealing with a worldwide audience." In addition to digging new lyrical ground for the band, the album would contain musical elements which might surprise their fans. "It's going to have a lot of depth", Halford said. "There'll be a lot of symphonic elements. We might orchestrate it, without it being overblown. There may be a massive choir at parts and keyboards will be featured more prominently, whereas they've always been in the background before." The album Nostradamus was released in June 2008; the band began a support tour in that same month.
In early February 2009, the band joined the ranks of bands speaking out against ticket-touting ("scalping"), issuing a statement condemning the practice of selling tickets at well above face value and urging their fans to buy tickets only from official sources. In the same month, Judas Priest continued their tour, bringing their "Priest Feast" (with support from guests Megadeth and Testament) to multiple arenas in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland in February and March 2009. From there the tour progressed to multiple venues in Sweden. Later in March 2009, Judas Priest performed in Portugal (at Lisbon on the Atlantic Pavilion), which they had not visited since 2005. The tour then continued on to Milan, Italy, and then to Paris, France; Halford had last performed with Judas Priest in Paris in 1991.
From June through August 2009, Judas Priest completed a North American tour to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the release of the album British Steel; the album was performed in its entirety on each tour date, with some other Judas Priest songs thrown into the setlist. This tour was to be a joint effort with fellow Englishman David Coverdale and Whitesnake. Unfortunately, Whitesnake would have to leave the tour after the show in Denver, Colorado on 11 August 2009 due to singer David Coverdale falling ill with a serious throat infection; he was advised to stop singing immediately to avoid permanently damaging his vocal cords.
On 14 July 2009, Judas Priest released a new live album, featuring 11 previously unreleased live tracks from the 2005 and 2008 world tours, A Touch of Evil: Live. The performance of "Dissident Aggressor" won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance.
In May 2010, Halford said that the band had been offered a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but "we’ve just never been there when they wanted to do the ceremony." He also revealed that a Nostradamus tour is still being contemplated: "We were in Hollywood recently and met with some producers and agents, so there are a lot of things going on behind the scenes."
The Judas Priest song "Electric Eye" was used in the temp score for Toy Story 3 but was ultimately replaced by another piece of music.
Downing's retirement and Farewell Epitaph World Tour (2010–present)
Judas Priest announced on 7 December 2010, that their Epitaph World Tour would be the band's farewell tour. It should run up until 2012. In a January 2011 interview, Rob Halford said about the band's impending retirement that:
On 27 January 2011, it was announced that Judas Priest was in the process of writing new material; the band also clarified their plans for the future, saying that "...this is by no means the end of the band. In fact, we are presently writing new material, but we do intend this to be the last major world tour." Speaking at a press conference in Los Angeles on May, 26, of the new material Glenn Tipton said: "It's quite a mixed bag. Really, there's more sentiment on this album. In a way, I suppose, it's also our farewell album, although it might not be our last one. There are some anthems on there, which pay tribute to our fans".
On 20 April 2011, it was announced that K. K. Downing had retired from the band and would not complete the Epitaph World Tour. Downing cited differences with the band and management and a breakdown in their relationship. Richie Faulkner, guitarist for Lauren Harris's band, was announced as his replacement for the Epitaph World Tour. Downing's retirement leaves bassist Ian Hill as the only remaining founding member of the band.
On 25 May 2011, Judas Priest played during the finale of American Idol season 10 with James Durbin, making it their first live performance without K.K. Downing. The band played a mixture of two songs: "Living After Midnight" and "Breaking the Law".
On 7 June 2011, the band announced that it planned to release the box set Single Cuts, a collection of singles, later that summer.
In an August 2011 interview with Billboard, Halford explained that he and Tipton "have about 12 or 14 tracks completely mapped out" for a new studio album. He went on to say that four of those were already recorded and mixed, and suggested a new album should be out in 2012. However, the year ended without seeing a release. In another interview with Billboard in August 2012, Halford said that the band is taking its time with the album, and did not give a definite release date, saying "I'm of the attitude it'll be ready when it's ready [...] I don't think we're going to slack off. We're determined to do a lot of work and be just as dedicated as we've always been and take a lot of care and attention with all the songs. We're not going to just bang this one out, so to speak."
On 13 September, Priest announced its plans to release a new compilation album, The Chosen Few, a set of Priest songs chosen by other iconic heavy metal musicians.
American heavy metal band Anthrax named a track in honour of Judas Priest on their 2011 album Worship Music.
In video games
In the 2000s, Judas Priest has become known to a new generation thanks to their music being included on the soundtracks of several popular video games. In the 2001 PlayStation 2 game Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec with "Turbo Lover", the 2006 PC and Xbox 360 video game, Prey and the PlayStation 2 2005 console games Guitar Hero and RoadKill include "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" on their soundtrack, as does 2002's Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which features the song on rock station V-Rock. In the prequel, 2006's Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, V-Rock features the song "Electric Eye". RoadKill also includes "Heading Out to the Highway", back-to-back with the aforementioned song on its classic rock pseudo-radio station.
Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s, also features "Electric Eye", including its intro, "The Hellion". The 2001 PlayStation 2 video game, Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec features "Turbo Lover" on the game's soundtrack. Its sequel Gran Turismo 4 features "Freewheel Burning" as well as Skate It and Skate 2 including the song in its soundtrack. The song "Breaking the Law" is also featured on the soundtrack to the 2006 PC, PS2 and Xbox game Scarface: The World is Yours. Additionally, Harmonix announced on 18 April 2008 that the first full-album available for download for the very popular video game Rock Band would be Judas Priest's Screaming for Vengeance. The album became available on 22 April for Xbox 360 and 24 April for PlayStation 3. Its sequel, Rock Band 2 features "Painkiller" as the hardest song across all instruments in the game, and Guitar Hero: Metallica features "Hell Bent for Leather" and on 14 July 2009 Rock Band released a Judas Priest three pack containing the live versions of "Dissident Aggressor" (from Sin After Sin), "Eat Me Alive" (from Defenders of the Faith) and "Prophecy" (from Nostradamus). Also available for the series is the 30th anniversary version of the album British Steel, in which all songs from the album are recorded live. Guitar Hero: Smash Hits, which is a compilation of previous Guitar Hero songs that have been updated, also features "Electric Eye". "Painkiller" was featured in Madden 2010 as well as in Guitar Hero: Van Halen. "Riding on the Wind" in 2012 Twisted Metal
The songs "The Hellion" and "Screaming for Vengeance", both from the Screaming for Vengeance album, are played on the official website for the video game Brütal Legend. The songs "Battle Hymn", "The Hellion/Electric Eye", "Leather Rebel", "One Shot at Glory", and "Painkiller" are included in the 108 song in-game setlist for the game, with "Painkiller" being played at the very last, climactic boss battle. Rob Halford also provides the voices of General Lionwhyte and the Fire Baron, who was modelled after Halford, in the same game. Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton played the solos for the Brutal Legend's main character Eddie Riggs, while fellow Judas Priest guitarist K. K. Downing played the solos performed by two of the leading villains.
Fallout 3 has a unique armour named after the song "Leather Rebel". One of the characters in the Guilty Gear franchise is based on Judas Priest, Order Sol, and his Overdrive is named after the song "All Guns Blazing".
Musical style and influence
Judas Priest were one of the first heavy metal bands to modernise the twin-guitar sound, with the duo of K. K. Downing and Glenn Tipton. They combined this sound with Rob Halford's unique vocal style to create their own distinctive style of heavy-rock.
Many people, including influential musicians and members of prominent hard rock and heavy metal bands, believe that among the foundations for what would define "pure" heavy metal were three early Judas Priest albums: Sad Wings of Destiny (1976), Sin After Sin (1977), and Stained Class (1978).
The band often played faster than most rock groups of the time and brought a more "metallic" sound to the guitars. The songs varied from simple and straightforward tunes (e.g. "Starbreaker", "White Heat, Red Hot") to fairly structured material, changing from fast and loud to slower tempo and softer tunes in one song (e.g., "Victim of Changes", "Run of the Mill", "Beyond the Realms of Death"). Some songs, such as 1978's "Exciter", were groundbreaking for their sheer ferocity and speed; few, if any, bands excepting Motörhead, played with the same tempo. Other songs, like "Dissident Aggressor", "Sinner" and "Tyrant", are considered to be the heaviest songs of their day, and today are considered classic metal tracks.
Their 1978 album Killing Machine (retitled Hell Bent for Leather and released in 1979 in the USA) saw a change of direction towards shorter, poppier, more American-influenced songs. The following release, British Steel (14 April 1980), took an even sharper turn in the same direction and was perhaps the first heavy metal album to record radio-friendly songs with pop hooks, in a concise format.
The band's next effort, Point of Entry (26 February 1981), is harder to define — the sound was very "raw" (i.e. minimal sound manipulation) and the songs were somewhat moody, and paced at a slower than usual tempo. As guitarist Glenn Tipton later admitted, Point of Entry had the tough task of living up to the standards set by its predecessor, and failed to do so. Subsequent albums Screaming for Vengeance (17 July 1982), which contained the popular radio hit "You've Got Another Thing Comin'", and Defenders of the Faith (4 January 1984) once again set high standards in intensity and production, and continued to influence the sonic shape of heavy metal. Turbo (15 April 1986) found the group introducing a "synth-guitar" sound to their metal template.
Ram It Down (1988), an album containing several cast-off and reworked tracks from the previous album Turbo, including the eponymous tune, garnered little commercial attention. The style was heavier than the material found on Turbo but still contained the synth elements of the previous release.
For Painkiller (1990) Judas Priest returned to a more straightforward heavy metal style with more technical and double-bass drumming from new member Scott Travis. This album represents one of the heaviest and most intense in the band's discography, with Halford's trademark high-pitched wail rising to an ear-splitting shriek on certain tracks.
Judas Priest also released two albums with Tim 'Ripper' Owens following Rob Halford's departure. Jugulator introduced a much darker sound, with the lyrics focusing on much harsher themes than any of the band's previous work, taking influence from thrash. The follow-up album, was an attempt to offer something for every possible fan after the mixed reaction to Jugulator, creating an amalgam of Jugulator-style riffs, references to 80s Priest, and sporadic nu-metal additions such as quasi-rapping, samples, and industrial-style beats.
Judas Priest's Angel of Retribution (2005), which was Rob Halford's first Judas Priest album since 1990, contributed to the current revival of classic heavy metal. It contains songs in the band's classic style, such as "Judas Rising" and "Hellrider", as well as mid-tempo songs with clear and prominent drums and less prominent guitars ("Worth Fighting For", "Wheels of Fire"), a ballad ("Angel"), and the epic ("Lochness") which runs 13:28, a length of song the band had not done since its concerts in the early 1970s.
The latest instalment in the Judas Priest discography, Nostradamus was released in June 2008. The double-CD/triple-LP concept album details the life of the 16th century French prophet Michel de Nostredame. The style is mostly slow to mid-paced heavy metal, though some songs (particularly the title track) still display the band's trademark heavy metal sound.
Influence on the genre
Judas Priest have influenced most metal music since the late-mid 70s either directly or indirectly. They were named the 78th greatest artist of all time by VH1 in 2010 and 2nd Greatest Metal Band by MTV (after Black Sabbath). Slayer acknowledged their devotion by covering "Dissident Aggressor" (Sin After Sin) on their album South of Heaven.
In addition to the sound, Judas Priest are also known for being revolutionaries in heavy metal fashion. Rob Halford thus began incorporating a macho image of what today is known as hardcore metal/biker/S&M style into his look as early as 1978 (to coincide with the release of their album Killing Machine), and the rest of the band followed. It became a mainstay in heavy metal; soon, several other bands, particularly of the NWOBHM and early black metal movements, began incorporating Halford's fashion into their look as well. This sparked a revival in metal in the early '80s, and catapulted them to fame, in both the mainstream and underground. Even in the present, it is not uncommon to find metal artists sporting such a look at concerts.
Their popularity and status as one of the exemplary and influential heavy metal bands has earned them the nickname "Metal Gods" from their song of the same name.
- Judas Priest Tour 1969
- The Return of the Priest Tour 1970–1971 (First gig of the tour with Black Sabbath)
- Whiskey Woman Tour 1972
- Never Turn Your Back on a Friend Tour 1973 (First Tour with Rob Halford, Judas Priest is the support act of Budgie)
- Gull Records Tour 1974 (First Tour with Glenn Tipton, Judas Priest is the support act of Budgie again)
- Rocka Rolla Tour 1974
- Sad Wings of Destiny Tour 1975–1976
- Sin After Sin Tour 1977
- Stained Class Tour 1978
- Hell Bent for Leather Tour 1978–1979
- British Steel Tour 1980
- World Wide Blitz Tour 1981
- World Vengeance Tour 1982–1983
- Metal Conqueror Tour 1984
- Live Aid 1985
- Fuel for Life Tour 1986
- Mercenaries of Metal Tour 1988
- Painkiller Tour 1990
- Operation Rock 'N' Roll Tour 1991
- Jugulator World Tour 1998
- Demolition World Tour 2001–2002
- Reunited Summer Tour 2004
- Ozzfest Tour 2004
- Retribution World Tour 2004–2005
- 2008/2009 World Tour 2008–2009
- Epitaph World Tour 2011–2012
- Ian Hill – bass (1970–present)
- Rob Halford – vocals (1973–1992, 2003–present)
- Glenn Tipton – guitars, keyboards, synthesiser (1974–present)
- Scott Travis – drums, percussion (1989–present)
- Richie Faulkner – guitars (2011–present)
- Al Atkins (1970–1973)
- Tim "Ripper" Owens (1996–2003)
- K. K. Downing (1970–2011)
- John Ellis (1970–1971)
- Alan Moore (1971–1972, 1975–1976)
- Chris "Congo" Campbell (1972–1973)
- John Hinch (1973–1975)
- Les Binks (1977–1979)
- Dave Holland (1979–1989)
- Simon Phillips – drums, percussion on Sin After Sin (1977)
- Don Airey – keyboards, synthesiser on Painkiller (1990 – track "A Touch of Evil"), Demolition (2001 – multiple tracks), Angel of Retribution (2005 – multiple tracks), Nostradamus (2008 – multiple tracks)
Al Atkins' Judas Priest (1969–1970)
- Al Atkins – vocals
- Ernie Chataway – guitars
- Bruno Stapenhill – bass
- John Partridge – drums
- Studio albums
- 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)
- TBA (2013)
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Image from Discogs