There I was, completely wasting, out of work and down
All inside it's so frustrating as I drift from town to town
Feel as though nobody cares if I live or die
So I might as well begin to put some action in my life!
Judas Priest is a Heavy Metal band that got its current lineup in Birmingham, England, in 1969. The original Judas Priest split up in 1968, and lead singer Al Atkins approached KK Downing, Ian Hill, and John Ellis to become their singer. Atkins and their subsequent drummer Alan Moore (not that one) left in 1974. Ian Hill's girlfriend suggested her brother, Rob Halford, could fill Atkins's departure.
Halford and his fellow Hiroshima member, drummer John Hinch, joined Downing and Hill, and Judas Priest as we know them was formed with their debut single "Rocka Rolla" in August. JP kicked out Hinch after the Rocka Rolla album and went through five more until they picked up Scott Travis in 1989 (previously of Racer X).
In 1990, America's Moral Guardians accused JP of Subliminal Seduction in the suicides of two teenage boys. Rob Halford responded by stating that the alleged message to "do it" didn't say what to do, and that subliminally provoking his audience to commit suicide would be counterproductive; the ideal subliminal message would have been "Buy more of our records." (And it's not as if it was even possible for it to be their fault anyway, since Spooky Tooth had written the song nearly ten years earlier.) The case was, predictably, laughed out of court.
Halford left in 1991, and JP brought on Tim "Ripper" Owens in 1996 for Jugulator and Demolition. Halford returned in 2003; in the interim, he had publicly come out as a homosexual after five years of rumors. The rest of the band had known the whole time.
Rob Halford also figures heavily in Brutal Legend. He voices two fairly major characters, one of whom closely resembles him, two other major characters share his surname, and there's a lot of Priest on the soundtrack.
Unfortunately, in 2010, they decided that it was time to retire and announced their farewell Epitaph World Tour. However, they have stated both in press conferences and online that they will release at least one more studio album afterwards.
On the 20th of April 2011 the band announced K. K. Downing had left. While this was a shock the band will go ahead with the tour and continue working with new guitarist Ritchie Faulkner, who has previously worked with Lauren Harris, daughter of Steve Harris.
- Rob Halford: Lead vocals, harmonica
- Glenn Tipton: Guitar, keyboards, synthesizer, backup vocals
- Ian Hill: Bass guitar, backup vocals
- Scott Travis: Drums, percussion
- Richie Faulkner: Guitar
- Al Atkins: vocals (1970–1973)
- John Ellis: drums, percussion (1970–1971)
- Alan "Skip" Moore: drums, percussion (1971–1972, 1975–1976)
- Chris Campbell: drums, percussion (1972–1973)
- John Hinch: drums, percussion (1973–1975)
- Les Binks: drums, percussion (1977–1979)
- Dave Holland: drums, percussion (1979–1989)
- Tim "Ripper" Owens: vocals (1996–2003)
- K. K. Downing: rhythm and lead guitars (1969–2011)
- 1974 - Rocka Rolla
- 1976 - Sad Wings of Destiny
- 1977 - Sin After Sin (Simon Phillips performed drums and percussion in the studio)
- 1978 - Stained Class
- 1978 - Killing Machine (Released in America as Hell Bent for Leather)
- 1980 - British Steel
- 1981 - Point of Entry
- 1982 - Screaming for Vengeance
- 1984 - Defenders of the Faith
- 1986 - Turbo
- 1988 - Ram it Down
- 1990 - Painkiller
- 1997 - Jugulator
- 2001 - Demolition
- 2005 - Angel of Retribution
- 2008 - Nostradamus
- 1979 - Unleashed in the East
- 1987 - Priest...Live!
- 1998 - '98 Live Meltdown
- 2003 - Live in London
- 2009 - A Touch of Evil: Live
- 2010 - British Steel - 30th Anniversary - Live
- Ambiguously Gay: Or not so ambiguous. Rob Halford's sexuality was sort of an open secret for years until he came out in 1998.
- Badass Moustache: Ian Hill.
- Bald of Awesome: Rob Halford.
- Eighties Hair: Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing.
- Hell-Bent for Leather: Trope Namer, Trope Codifier and the source of leather's prominence in heavy metal fashion.
- Large Ham: Rob Halford.
- Leather Man: Rob Halford.
- Made of Iron: During a 1991 Judas Priest concert, Rob Halford collided with a drum riser while riding his motorcycle onstage, falling off the bike and breaking his nose. After regaining consciousness he performed the remainder of the concert despite the fact that he would have been in excruciating pain at the time. He did not go to the hospital until after the band had completed its setlist.
- Manly Gay: Halford.
- Metal Scream: Rob Halford is a master of it.
- Name's the Same: There's also a jazz upright-bass player named Dave Holland (who was in Miles Davis's band from 1968 to 1970).
- Also, former drummer Alan "Skip" Moore, who did not write comic books.
- Promoted Fanboy: Tim "Ripper" Owens. Also a...
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Owens was thought to be using a backing track of Rob's voice by members of the band when they heard his demo tape.
- Ambiguously Gay: Rob's homosexuality even seeps into the lyrics of songs like "Raw Deal", which has rather blatant gay rights themes in the lyrics. (In 1977!)
- It's a lot of fun to try to explain every song in the context of Halford's homosexuality.
- "Grinder" from British Steel is a perfect example of this, if you think about it enough:
Off the straight and narrow
I won't keep in time
Tend to bend the arrow out of line
- And of course the chorus...
Looking for meat
Wants you to eat!
- Then there's "Delivering the Goods," which practically sounds like it's about (male-on-male) gang rape. ("We're gonna load you with our brand!")
- Ambition Is Evil: Inverted with "You Got Another Thing Coming".
- And I Must Scream: "Brain Dead" is sung from the perspective of a man suffering from locked-in syndrome who wants badly to be taken off life support.
- Audience Participation Song: "Breaking the Law" and "You Got Another Thing Coming" are both songs in which Halford has the audience sing the chorus for him. Often, "Breaking the Law" is sung ENTIRELY by the public. Case in point, this video.
- Big Brother Is Watching: "Electric Eye."
- Call Back / Shout-Out:
- "Sad wings that Heaven sent wipes out in rage!" (a reference to their second album, Sad Wings Of Destiny)
- "Forged in the black country, under blood-red skies....Took on all the world; it had no choice!" ("Monsters of Rock," "Blood Red Skies," and "Take on the World," respectively).
- "Rock Forever" (from 1979's Killing Machine) has a middle section that almost sounds like a tribute to classic 1950s rock 'n' roll, particularly Danny & The Juniors' "At the Hop."
- Similarly, their music video for "Headin' Out to the Highway" is obviously a tribute to the "drag race" scenes in classic '50s "hot rod" flicks. (Rob, of course, plays the role of the girl who starts the race.)
- Careful with That Axe: Rob Halford does this a lot, to the point of Love It or Hate It territory.
- Case in point: Dissident Aggressor.
- Painkiller is pretty much nothing but this trope.
- Concept Album: Nostradamus.
- Cool People Rebel Against Authority: "Parental Guidance."
- Cover Version: They have covered "Diamonds and Rust" by Joan Baez, "Race With the Devil" by Gun, "Better by You, Better Than Me" by Spooky Tooth, "The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)" by Fleetwood Mac and "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry.
- Darker and Edgier: The Painkiller, Jugulator and Demolition albums.
- Dark Is Not Evil / Good Is Not Nice: " The Sentinel."
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: "Heavy Duty" starts out like this, then segues into Heavy Meta. Living After Midnight as well. To quote Rob "'My body's coming', what could possibly that be meaning? [sic]"
- Epic Rocking: Over the 7-minute mark:
- "Run of the Mill", (8:32) from Rocka Rolla.
- "Victim of Changes", (7:44) from Sad Wings Of Destiny.
- "All The Way", (7:25) from Point Of Entry.
- "Prisoner of Your Eyes", (7:12) from the Screaming For Vengeance remaster.
- "Blood Red Skies", (7:50) from Ram It Down.
- "Cathedral Spires", (9:17) from Jugulator.
- "Lochness", (13:29) from Angel Of Retribution.
- "Revelations", (7:05) "Death", (7:33) "Alone", (7:50) and "Future of Mankind" (8:29) from Nostradamus.
- And many of the songs that are less than 5 minutes long can still sound epic. Defenders Of The Faith, for example, is crammed with songs that are practically operatic.
- Evil Is Sexy: "Devil's Child" and "Touch of Evil," among others.
- Filk Song: Blood Red Skies is quite obviously inspired by Terminator.
- Growing the Beard: They started recording in 1974, but it wasn't until their second album (Sad Wings of Destiny, 1976) that they developed a metal sound, and it wasn't until their fourth album (Stained Class, 1978) that they progressed to speed metal.
- Heavy Meta: Lots of it, beginning with Rock Forever. Metal Gods subverts this, since it's actually about a Robot War.
- Heavy Mithril: From Sinner to Loch Ness.
- Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Nostradamus has songs for Death and War. Pestilence and Plague share a song as well.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: "Stained Class"
- Incredibly Long Note: In Painkiller, "Tyrant" and a good few others.
- Intercourse with You: Many, including "Eat Me Alive", "Turbo Lover" and "A Touch of Evil".
- In the Style Of: Their hard rock cover of Joan Baez' Diamonds and Rust. Averted live sometimes: they've played it in a more folky, acoustic fashion in concert before. Similarly, their version of "The Green Manalishi" transforms it so completely from a moody blues piece to metal that, much to the annoyance of Fleetwood Mac fans, many Priest fans wrongly assume it to be a Priest original.
- Lighter and Softer:
- Turbo, complete with synthesizers.
- The band did this after they moved from the gloomy themes and complex compositions of their earlier albums to straight-ahead proto-groove-metal and simple lyrics, mostly about "Us vs. Them". Note that fans aren't really upset, since this change did result in "You Got Another Thing Comin'" and others.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: A 6 or 7, usually, with some of Jugulator crossing into 8 territory. Point of Entry and Turbo would both be 4 or 5. That said, it should be noted that albums like "Sin After Sin" and "British Steel" might seem fairly average today (only in terms of weight, of course), but were heavy beyond heavy when released.
- Motor Mouth: Not as extreme as later speed-metal bands, but still impressive. The best example is probably 1979's "Delvering the Goods": "Well, we don't pull no punches. We aim where the crunches are bound to do most damage to your brain. If you're looking for it mellow, you're nothing more than yellow. Gonna do it again and again." That's 37 words spewed out in a mere 12 seconds, or over 3 words per second!
- New Sound Album: Turbo was far closer to Glam Rock or Hair Metal than the several albums preceding it, with a lot of synthesizers and commercially friendly hooks. Ram It Down, the following album, was a return to straightforward metal and actually introduced a number of elements to the band's sound which would crystalize in Painkiller, which borders on being a Thrash album. Interestingly, Turbo and Ram It Down were supposedly written, if not recorded, simultaneously to be released as a double album.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and James Dean in "Heroes' End."
- Nothing Is Scarier: The giant carnivorous worm in "Night Crawler" is never seen by its victims, only heard.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: On Nostradamus Ominous Old French Chanting.
- Patriotic Fervor: "Red, White And Blue," a song they recorded but never released except on a remastered version of British Steel. (Ingeniously, although the song refers to Britain's Union Jack, it could also represent the flag of the United States of America, France, Cuba, or various other countries.) Slightly subverted in that the band's comments in the liner notes pointed out that it was slightly tongue-in-cheek.
- Serial Killer: "The Ripper" (the song, that is)
- Something Completely Different: Countless examples, as they never stopped reinventing themselves throughout their career.
- Point of Entry is practically a pop album, with very few truly heavy songs.
- Turbo, of course.
- "Worth Fighting For" from Angel of Retribution almost sounds like a really Gothic cowboy/western song, complete with a Buck Owens-inspired riff.
- "Lochness" almost sounds like a George Lucas Throwback to the very earliest metal of Iron Butterfly or Deep Purple.
- Spy Satelite: "Electric Eye".
- This Is Sparta:
"HE! IS! THE! PAINKILLER! THIS! IS! THE! PAINKILLER!"
"LIVING! After MIDNIGHT! ROCKING! To the DAWN! LOVING! 'Til the MORNING! Then I'm GONE! I'm GONE!"
"HERE! COMES! THE REVOLUTION! TIME! FOR! RETRIBUTION!"
"ROCK HARD! RIDE FREE!"
And so on, ad infinitum.
- Title-Only Chorus: Present in quite a few Priest songs, such as "Freewheel Burning", "Hell Bent for Leather", "Breaking the Law", "Eat Me Alive", "Bloodstone", etc.
- Trope Codifier: The band is largely responsible for the modern style of heavy metal. Depending on your definition of "heavy metal", they may also count as the Trope Maker or even the Ur Example.
- Vampires Are Sex Gods: "Love Bites"
- Whip It Good: In the intro of "Love You to Death" from Ram It Down. Outro has Halford screaming in ecstasy while he is supposedly being whipped.
- Word Salad Lyrics: Occasionally; taken Up to Eleven on "All Guns Blazing."
- Animated Music Video: "War".
- Canon Discontinuity: The band seem to try and sweep the Owens era under the rug, if their post-reunion setlists are any indication.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The video for "Painkiller."
- Downer Ending: The music video for "Freewheel Burning" ends with a little boy dying after playing a particularly intense video game with a Judas Priest soundtrack. ("Heavy metal can be hazardous to your health.")
- Earth-Shattering Poster: The cover of Ram It Down.
- Fallen Angel: On the cover of Sad Wings of Destiny.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: One of their stage props used for their Electric Eye performance.
- Sigil Spam: Judas Priest are among the few bands to actually have a sigil of sorts - i.e. a simple, recognisable logo that is not a stylized version of their name. The "Judas Priest cross" or "Devil's Tuning Fork" dates back to their second album, 1976's Sad Wings Of Destiny, and has appeared on cover art, merchandise, outfits and stage decorations ever since.
- Straw Feminist: The video for "Locked In" features a tribe of evil (but sexy) warrior women who imprison and torture men. (The song is about a Tsundere.)
- Winged Humanoid: The cover art for Sad Wings Of Destiny and Painkiller.