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Judas Priest was one of the most influential heavy metal bands of the '70s, spearheading the New Wave of British Heavy Metal late in the decade. Decked out in leather and chains, the band fused the gothic doom of Black Sabbath with the riffs and speed of Led Zeppelin, as well as adding a vicious two-lead guitar attack; in doing so, they set the pace for much popular heavy metal from 1975 until 1985, as well as laying the groundwork for the speed and death metal of the '80s.
Formed in Birmingham, England, in 1970, the group's core members were guitarist K.K. Downing and bassist Ian Hill. Joined by Alan Atkins and drummer John Ellis, the band played their first concert in 1971. Atkins' previous band was called Judas Priest, yet the members decided it was the best name for the new group. The band played numerous shows throughout 1971; during the year, Ellis was replaced by Alan Moore; by the end of the year, Chris Campbell replaced Moore. After a solid year of touring the U.K., Atkins and Campbell left the band in 1973 and were replaced by vocalist Rob Halford and drummer John Hinch. They continued touring, including a visit to Germany and the Netherlands in 1974. By the time the tour was completed, they had secured a record contract with Gull, an independent U.K. label. Before recording their debut album, Judas Priest added guitarist Glenn Tipton.
Rocka Rolla was released in September of 1974 to almost no attention. The following year, they gave a well-received performance at the Reading Festival and Hinch departed the band; he was replaced by Alan Moore. Later that year, the group released Sad Wings of Destiny, which earned some positive reviews. However, the lack of sales was putting the band in a dire financial situation, which was remedied by an international contract with CBS Records. Sin After Sin (1977) was the first album released under that contract; it was recorded with Simon Phillips, who replaced Moore. The record received positive reviews and the band departed for their first American tour, with Les Binks on drums.
When they returned to England, Judas Priest recorded 1978's Stained Class, the record that established them as an international force in metal. Along with 1979's Hell Bent for Leather (Killing Machine in the U.K.), Stained Class defined the nascent New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. A significant number of bands adopted Priest's leather-clad image and hard, driving sound, making their music harder, faster, and louder. After releasing Hell Bent for Leather, the band recorded the live album Unleashed in the East (1979) in Japan; it became their first platinum album in America. Les Binks left the band in 1979; he was replaced by former Trapeze drummer Dave Holland. Their next album, 1980's British Steel, entered the British charts at number three, launched the hit singles "Breaking the Law" and "Living After Midnight," and was their second American platinum record; Point of Entry, released the following year, was nearly as successful.
At the beginning of the '80s, Judas Priest was a top concert attraction around the world, in addition to being a best-selling recording artist. Featuring the hit single "You've Got Another Thing Comin'," Screaming for Vengeance (1982) marked the height of their popularity, peaking at number 17 in America and selling over a million copies. Two years later, Defenders of the Faith nearly matched its predecessor's performance, yet metal tastes were beginning to change, as Metallica and other speed/thrash metal groups started to grow in popularity. That shift was evident on 1986's Turbo, where Judas Priest seemed out of touch with current trends; nevertheless, the record sold over a million copies in America on the basis of name recognition alone. However, 1987's Priest...Live! was their first album since Stained Class not to go gold. Ram It Down (1988) was a return to raw metal and returned the group to gold status. Dave Holland left after this record and was replaced by Scott Travis for 1990's Painkiller. Like Ram It Down, Painkiller didn't make an impact outside the band's die-hard fans, yet the group was still a popular concert act.
In the early '90s, Rob Halford began his own thrash band, Fight, and soon left Judas Priest. In 1996, following a solo album by Glenn Tipton, the band rebounded with a new young singer, Tim "Ripper" Owens (formerly a member of a Priest tribute band and of Winter's Bane). They spent the next year recording Jugulator amongst much self-perpetuated hype concerning Priest's return to their roots. The album debuted at number 82 on the Billboard album charts upon its release in late 1997. Halford had by then disbanded Fight following a decrease in interest and signed with Trent Reznor's Nothing label with a new project, Two. In the meantime, the remaining members of Judas Priest forged on with '98 Live Meltdown, a live set recorded during their inaugural tour with Ripper on the mike. Around the same time, a movie was readying production to be based on Ripper's rags-to-riches story of how he got to front his all-time favorite band. Although Priest was originally supposed to be involved with the film, they ultimately pulled out, but production went on anyway without the band's blessing (the movie, Rock Star, was eventually released in the summer of 2001, starring Mark Wahlberg in the lead role). Rob Halford in the meantime disbanded Two after just a single album, 1997's Voyeurs, and returned back to his metal roots with a quintet simply named Halford. The group issued their debut in 2000, Resurrection, following it with a worldwide tour that saw the new group open up Iron Maiden's Brave New World U.S. tour, and issue a live set one year later (which included a healthy helping of Priest classics) -- Live Insurrection.
In 2001 the Ripper-led Priest issued a new album, Demolition, and Priest's entire back catalog for Columbia was reissued with remastered sound and bonus tracks. In 2003 the band -- including Halford -- collaborated on the liner notes and song selections for their mammoth career-encompassing box Metalogy, a collaboration that brought Halford back into the fold. Owens split from the group amicably in 2003, allowing the newly reunited heavy metal legends to plan their global live concert tour in 2004, with their sixteenth studio album, Angel of Retribution, to be released the following year. In 2008 the band released Nostradamus, a sprawling, two-disc conceptual piece that charted the life and times of the famous French seer. On December 7, 2010, Priest broke the news that their upcoming Epitaph world tour would be their last. The following month, however, they clarified that they were not disbanding, announcing that they were working on new material. Before the tour began, founding member Downing left the band over differences with the other members and their management; he was replaced by Richie Faulkner.
Priest worked on their new album during the tour, which ran until 2012. The album's release was delayed several times, but it was eventually announced that it would see the light of day in July 2014. Entitled Redeemer of Souls, it was described by the band as a traditional, crowd-pleasing return to their roots. Coinciding with the announcement of the album's release, they backtracked on their earlier pronouncement and revealed details of another new world tour.
Judas Priest are an English 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 45 million albums worldwide. The band is widely recognised as one of the finest and most original heavy metal bands of all time, with many artists within the genre having cited them as a major influence. MTV ranked them the second "Greatest Metal Band" of all time.
Despite an innovative and pioneering body of work in the late 1970s, the band struggled with indifferently-produced records, repeated changes of drummer and a lack of major commercial success or attention until 1980 when they adopted a more simplified sound on the album British Steel, which helped shoot them to rock superstar status. 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, featuring Halford, Tipton, Hill, K. K. Downing (guitar), and Dave Holland (drums).
Their influence, while mainly Rob Halford's operatic vocal style (widely considered as one of the most unique vocalists in the genre) and the twin guitar sound of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton, has been adopted by many bands. Their image of leather, spikes, and other taboo articles of clothing were widely influential during the glam metal era of the 1980s. 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 1990s, the band has once again seen a 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 featured in video games such as Guitar Hero and the Rock Band series."Biography". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 13 February 2011. Riddle, Tree. "Original Singer: Judas Priest Would’ve Sounded ‘More Like AC/DC’ If I’d Stayed in Band". Loudwire. Retrieved 27 March 2012. "Judas Priest Confirm UK Dates As Part of Epitaph World Tour". CaughtOffside. 28 February 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2011. Glasgowvant (22 February 1999). "Glasgow SECC | Judas Priest Epitaph Tour 2011". Glasgowvant. Retrieved 10 July 2011. Cite error: The named reference MTV was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference Trial was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference Bukszpan was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Roy Wilkinson. "How Judas Priest invented heavy metal | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-08-10.
ContentsHistory1.1 Origins (1969–1974)1.2 Rocka Rolla (1974–1975)1.3 Sad Wings of Destiny (1975–1977)1.4 Major label debut (1977–1979)1.5 Mainstream success (1979–1991)1.5.1 Subliminal message trial1.5.2 Halford leaves (1991–1992)1.6 Ripper Owens (1996–2003)1.7 Reunion (2003–2006)1.7.1 VH1 Rock Honors1.8 Nostradamus (2006–2010)1.9 Downing's retirement and Epitaph World Tour (2010–2011)1.10 Redeemer of Souls and future touring plans (2011-present)
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 School at All Saints in West Bromwich. Downing and Hill became close friends in their early teens, when they shared similar musical interests (Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, 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.
The original Judas Priest had been formed in 1969 by Al Atkins (lead vocals), Bruno Stapenhill (bass, born Brian Stapenhill, in 1948, Stone Cross, W. Bromwich), John Partridge (drums, born c. 1948, W. Bromwich), and John Perry (guitar). Stappenhill came up with the name Judas Priest and they rehearsed at his house in Stone Cross. Perry died in a car accident shortly after the band's formation, and was subsequently replaced by Ernie Chataway (born Ernest Chataway, in 1952, in Winson Green, Birmingham, Warwickshire; died 13 May 2014).
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 (born 19 September 1951, Yew Tree Estate, West Bromwich, Staffordshire). 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 songwriter. 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 The album flopped upon release, leaving Priest in dire financial straits. Priest attempted to secure a deal with Gull Records to get a monthly pay of 50 pounds, however, because Gull Records were struggling as well, they declined. Rocka Rolla (1974) has been for the most part dismissed by the band and none of its songs were played live after 1976 except for Never Satisfied, which was revived during the Epitaph Tour in 2011.
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 immediately shifted the band from a psychedelic sound to straight gritty metal with the opening track, the progressive 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 expand their fanbase.
Major label debut (1977–1979)
Their next album, 1977's Sin After Sin, was the first Priest record under a major label, CBS and the first of the band's eleven consecutive albums to be certified Gold or higher by the RIAA. With the termination of their contract with their previous label Gull, the band lost the rights to their first two albums. Sin After Sin was produced by ex-Deep Purple bass player Roger Glover. The band chose to use session drummer Simon Phillips for the recordings. He declined to become a permanent member of Judas Priest, so instead 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 (1979), which was recorded live in Japan during the Killing Machine tour. While the first three Judas Priest albums had considerable traces of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple in them, as well as ballads, Stained Class did not contain any ballads aside from the very dark "Beyond the Realms of Death." Killing Machine (released as Hell Bent For Leather in the US) was the first nod to a more commercial sound, with simpler songs that brought back some blues influences. 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 (1978) was the live release from the supporting tour, entitled Unleashed in the East (1979). 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. By this point the playing style of the band had grown progressively heavier, with live versions of songs such as "Exciter" and "Beyond the Realms of Death" sounding much heavier than their studio counterparts.
Les Binks quit in late 1979 as he was unhappy with the band's desire to move towards a simplified radio rock sound, so they 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 familiar 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, and the tour in support of the album featured 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 became a major radio hit in the US. Songs such as "Electric Eye" and "Riding on the Wind" also appeared on 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.
Priest continued their success through the mid-1980s. "Freewheel Burning", released in 1983, was a regular on rock radio. Its album Defenders of the Faith was released the following year. 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 arena tour in support, with 100 concerts in North America, Europe and Japan during 1986. 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 Center (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.
Subliminal message trial
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 in 1988, three years after the suicide pact.
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" (a cover of the Spooky Tooth number) from the Stained Class (1978) album. 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 after the judge ruled that the so-called "do it" message was a result of an accidental mix up of background lyrics. 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.
Halford leaves (1991–1992)
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 remained with Judas Priest until 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 publicly came out as gay.
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 (1997) and Demolition (2001), as well as two live double-albums – '98 Live Meltdown and Live in London (2003), the latter of which had a live DVD counterpart. Although Jugulator sold relatively well, it was given mixed reviews, though it contains the epic "Cathedral Spires", which became one of Ripper's more popular songs.
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 US 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 (US) on Sony Music/Epic Records to critical and commercial success. A global tour in support of the album ensued. 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, 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.
VH1 Rock Honors
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 (1980); 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 Epitaph World Tour (2010–2011)
Judas Priest announced on 7 December 2010, that their Epitaph World Tour would be the band's farewell tour and would run up until 2012. In a January 2011 interview, Rob Halford said about the band's impending retirement that:
"I think it's time, you know. We're not the first band to say farewell, it's just the way everyone comes to at some point and we're gonna say a few more things early next year, so I think the main thing that we just want to ask everybody to consider is don't be sad about this, start celebrating and rejoicing over all the great things we've done in Judas Priest."
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 26 May 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 founder 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.
Redeemer of Souls and future touring plans (2011-present)
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 2011, 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. On 5 June 2013, Rob Halford confirmed that the Epitaph World Tour would not be the band's final tour. On 22 December 2013, Judas Priest released a short Christmas message on their official website, which confirmed that they would be releasing the new album sometime in 2014.
On 5 January 2014, the band appeared in the episode "Steal This Episode" of comedy cartoon show The Simpsons playing the song "Breaking the Law". Their music was referred to as "death metal", for which the producers subsequently apologised by having Bart Simpson write "Judas Priest is not 'Death Metal'" in the opening sequence chalkboard gag.
On 17 March 2014 at the Ronnie James Dio Awards in Los Angeles, California, Rob Halford announced that the new album is finished:
“The Priest album is finished. It’s done. I just heard from the mastering sessions that [guitarist] Glenn [Tipton is] looking over in England, it’s finished. It’s done. It’s coming out at some point. We’ve got some more information we’re about to drop but in the process of the magic of building up expectation and tension to the climax.”
On 28 April 2014, the band released a brand new track for streaming on their official website entitled "Redeemer of Souls", which is the title track for their upcoming album of the same name.
In an interview given by Eddie Trunk on 5 May 2014, Glenn Tipton says that the band is looking to go back on the road:
"It's all a little bit 'play it by ear.' We're looking at starting some dates in the fall — exactly how many and what size, what capacity, we're not sure. But one thing that we have discussed is PRIEST have got such a wealth now of songs behind us, we probably won't go over the top on production like we've done before; the strength will be in the music. That's our feeling at the moment with this next tour."
On 20 May 2014, the band confirmed on their official website that they will be playing selected dates in support of their new album Redeemer of Souls.. At the end of June, a 20 date US tour was confirmed for October and November 2014 Redeemer of Souls, sold around 32,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to land at position No. 6 on The Billboard 200 chart, the band's highest charting position in the US after the double-disc concept album, "Nostradamus", debuted at No. 11. This was the band's first top 10 album in the US."AL ATKINS EX-SINGER IN JUDAS PRIEST – JUDAS PRIEST 1969 -1973". Allanatkins.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. 19 January 1973. Retrieved 7 November 2010. "The Judas Priest History". Jugulator.net. Retrieved 2014-05-18. "Former Judas Priest Singer Completing Work On Autobiography". Blabbermouth.net. 2004-07-02. Retrieved 2014-05-18. "Early Judas Priest Guitarist Ernie Chataway Dies at 62". Loudwire.com. Retrieved 2014-05-18.  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Judaspriest.com. 13 August 2009. Retrieved 7 November 2010. "Judas Priest Grammy Nomination for Dissident Aggressor". Judaspriest.com. 4 December 2009. Retrieved 7 November 2010. Reesman, Bryan (4 June 2010). "Rob Halford: Back To The Future". Attention Deficit Delirium. Retrieved 29 June 2010. Reesman, Bryan (10 April 2010). "Judas Priest In "Toy Story 3″? Almost.". Attention Deficit Delirium. Retrieved 29 June 2010. "JUDAS PRIEST Announces Farewell 'Epitaph' Tour – Dec. 7, 2010". Blabbermouth.net. 7 December 2010. Retrieved 8 December 2010. "ROB HALFORD Doesn't Want Fans To Be Sad About JUDAS PRIEST's Upcoming Farewell Tour". Blabbermouth.net. 11 January 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2011. "JUDAS PRIEST Working on New Material – Jan. 27, 2011". Blabbermouth.net. 27 January 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2011. "JUDAS PRIEST: More Video Footage Of Los Angeles Press Conference – May 25, 2011". Roadrunnerrecords.com. Retrieved 3 October 2011. "News – K.K. DOWNING retirement Press Release". 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ContentsMusical style and influence1.1 Musical style1.2 Media recognition1.3 Fashion
Musical style and influence
Judas Priest's style has always been rooted in heavy metal, and many of their albums reflect diverse aspects of the genre. For example their first album, Rocka Rolla (1974), is primarily rooted in heavy blues rock. From their album Sad Wings of Destiny (1976) through Stained Class (1978), their style was somewhat progressive, with complex guitar passages, and poetic lyrics. Songs would often shift in dynamics and tempo, and the music was some of the heaviest of its day. This would later have a major influence on progressive metal bands. Judas Priest's 1977 Sin After Sin introduced the combination of the double bass drum and rapid 16th bass rhythms combined with rapid 16th guitar rhythms that came to define the genre. While the double-bass rhythms from Judas Priest are generally measured and technical, the song "Dissident Aggressor" (1977) pushed this to be an example of the style with an increase in "tempo and aggression" which was later adopted by other bands like Motörhead with a much harder-edged approach. Starting with their fifth album, Killing Machine (1978) (titled Hell Bent for Leather on its release in the US) the band began to incorporate a more commercial, radio-friendly style to their music. The lyrics and music were simplified, and this style prevailed up to their seventh album, Point of Entry (1981). With their eighth album, Screaming for Vengeance (1982), the band incorporated a balance of these two styles. This continued on their next album, Defenders of the Faith (1984). With the follow-up album, Turbo (1986), the band incorporated guitar synthesizers into its signature heavy metal sound. On 1988's Ram It Down the band retained some of the more commercial qualities of Turbo but also returned to some of the fast tempo heavy metal found on their earlier works. This fast-tempo style continued with 1990's Painkiller. Jugulator (1997) tried to incorporate some of the 1990s contemporary groove metal styles. For Demolition (2001), the album has a more traditional heavy metal sound. Following the return of Rob Halford for Angel of Retribution and Nostradamus, the band returned to the style that it had on its early albums.
Judas Priest have influenced a great deal of metal music since the late-mid 70s. They were ranked by MTV as the second "Greatest Metal Band" of all time (after Black Sabbath), and VH1 named them the 78th greatest artist of all time in 2010.
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.Cope, Andrew Laurence. Black Sabbath and the Rise of Heavy Metal Music. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 9781409493983. Cite error: The named reference allmusic was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "MTVNews.com: The Greatest Metal Bands Of All Time". Mtv.com. 9 March 2006. Retrieved 10 July 2011. Daniel Bukszpan (2003). "The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal". "Hell Bent for Leather/Killing Machine Info Page". Judas Priest Info Pages. Berelian, Essi. The Rough Guide to Heavy Metal. Rough Guides. p. 172. ISBN 1-84353-415-0.