- Rob Halford – Lead Vocals
- Glenn Tipton – Guitars, Backing Vocals
- K. K. Downing – Guitars, Backing Vocals
- Ian Hill – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Scott Travis – Drums, Percussion
- Rocka Rolla (1974)
- Sad Wings of Destiny (1976)
- Sin After Sin (1977)
- Stained Class (1978)
- Killing Machine/Hell Bent for Leather (1978/1979)
- British Steel (1980)
- Point of Entry (1981)
- Screaming for Vengeance (1982)
- Defenders of the Faith (1984)
- Turbo (1986)
- Ram It Down (1988)
- Painkiller (1990)
- Jugulator (1997)
- Demolition (2001)
- Angel of Retribution (2005)
- Nostradamus (2008)
Judas Priest is an English heavy metal band. They were formed in 1969 in Birmingham. They have been called an influence on many heavy metal bands. They have the nickname “Metal Gods” from many fans and peers.
K. K. Downing and Ian Hill had known each other since early childhood. They attended the same school in West Bromwich. They became close friends in their early teens. They shared similar music tastes and both learned to play instruments. Al Atkins a local singer, approached Downing and Hill to see if he could front the band they were in. With Atkins now in the band, Downing suggested they change their name to Judas Priest as he had been a fan of Atkin’s original band named Judas Priest.
With K.K. Downing as acting leader, the band moved away from their blues influences to play heavy rock. That style change would be the start of heavy metal. The band played around Birmingham and the surrounding areas with various drummers until 1974. Eventually, Alan Atkins and drummer Alan Moore left the band.
At the time, Ian Hill was dating a woman from the nearby town of Walsall. She suggested her brother, Rob Halford, to try out as a singer. Halford was accepted and joined the band. He brought drummer John Hinch from his previous band, Hiroshima,
with him. This line-up toured in the UK for a while. They even headlined some gigs in Norway and Germany.
Before the band entered the studio to record, their record label suggested they add another musician to the line-up. Downing wasn’t sure if they wanted to incorporate a keyboard or horn player into the band, so instead he chose another guitarist,Glenn Tipton.
The duo, Downing and Tipton, worked together to adapt the existing material for two guitarists and Tipton also received credits as a song writer. In 1974, Judas Priest released their debut single “Rocka Rolla.” A month later the band released their first album called the “Rocka Rolla” as well.
The band’s second studio recording was Sad Wings of Destiny. It was released in 1976. It included a variety of old material from the band. The album, and a strong performance at the 1975 Reading Festival, helped to raise interest in the band.
For their next album, 1977’s Sin After Sin, the band used session drummer Simon Phillips for the recordings. The tourdrumming duties was done by Les Binks. With Les in the band, they recorded 1978’s Stained Class and Killing Machine. Killing Machine was released in America as Hell Bent for Leather. Binks, credited for writing “Beyond the Realms of Death”, was an accomplished and technically skilled drummer. Binks also played on Unleashed in the East which was a live recording of a concert in Japan, on the Killing Machine tour.
Les Binks quit, because of the change in the band’s musical direction. They replaced him with Dave Holland. This line-up of Judas Priest recorded six studio albums and one live album.
In 1980, the band released British Steel. Songs off of that album that got heavy airplay were “Living After Midnight”, “Breakin’ The Law” and “United.” The band’s following release was in 1981. The album was called Point of Entry. The tour in support was successful, expanding the fanbase. Defenders of the Faith was released in 1984. Some critics called it “Screaming for Vengeance II” because of the similarities to the previous album.
Turbo was released in 1986. The album was released during the glam metal era, so to keep up with the times, the band had began to dress like glam rockers and they added synthesisers. The album went Platinum and had a successful tour in support.
Still, some critics argued the album was a sellout.
In 1988, Ram It Down was released. It featured several reworked songs left over from the Turbo recordings. The album still featured some new songs. During this time, longtime drummer Dave Holland left the band. Painkiller was released in 1990. The album featured a new drummer, Scott Travis. The album dropped the synths for all the songs, except the ballad called “A Touch of Evil.”
After the Painkiller tour in 1991, Rob Halford wanted to leave the band. But, due to contractual obligations, he had to wait until May of 1992 to leave. Halford formed a thrash metal group called Fight in the summer of 1993 to explore new musical territory. Tim “Ripper” Owens, was hired in 1996 as Judas Priest’s new lead singer. He had previously sang in a Judas Priest tribute band. This line up of the band had released two albums, Jugulator and Demolition. Jugulator sold well but Demolition did not.
After almost twelve years apart, there was an ever-growing demand for a reunion. Rob Halford announced that the band would reunite in 2003. They co-headlined the 2004 Ozzfest, being named as the “premier act. “In 2005 the first album with Halford on vocals since Painkiller in 1990 was released. The album was called Angel of Retribution. A global tour in support of the album followed and it was very successful.
Judas Priest’s most recent album was called Nostradamus”. It was released in 2008. It was a concept album about the legendary 16th century French prophet Nostradamus. The album has prominent keyboards and symphonic elements in some parts, where in the past the band kept those parts of the album in the background.
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