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Judas Priest are an English heavy metal band from Birmingham, formed in 1969. Judas Priest's core line-up consists of bass player Ian Hill, vocalist Rob Halford and guitarists Glenn Tipton and K. K. Downing. The band has gone through several drummers, though Scott Travis has held the position since 1989. They have been cited as an influence on many heavy metal musicians and bands. Their popularity and status as one of the definitive heavy metal bands has earned them the nickname "Metal Gods" from their song of the same name. They have sold over 35 million albums worldwide.
K. K. Downing and Ian Hill had known each other since early childhood, as they lived near one another and attended the same nursery and school in West Bromwich. They became close friends in their early teens, when they shared similar musical interests (Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Cream, The Yardbirds) and learned to play instruments. The band was founded in 1969 in Birmingham, England, after a local ensemble named Judas Priest (after Bob Dylan's song "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" from the John Wesley Harding album) split up. The band's singer Al Atkins approached Downing and Hill, who were playing as a power trio with drummer John Ellis and asked if he could become their singer. With Atkins now in the band, Downing suggested they change their name to Judas Priest as he had been a fan of the original band.
With Downing as acting leader, the band moved away from their original blues influences to play hard rock and what would later come to be defined as heavy metal. 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.
At the time, Ian Hill was dating a woman from the nearby town of Walsall who suggested her brother, Bob Halford, be considered as a singer. Halford joined the band, bringing drummer John Hinch from his previous band, Hiroshima. (It should be noted that only later did Bob Halford become widely known as Rob Halford.) This line-up toured in the UK, often supporting Budgie, and even headlining some shows in Norway and Germany.
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 guitarist, Glenn Tipton, 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 CV 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 band participated more in the production of their next album, recorded during January and February 1976, and chose the producers themselves. The result, Sad Wings of Destiny (1976), included a variety of old material, including the aforementioned stage favorites 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 era
For their next album, 1977's Sin After Sin, 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 performance added to the band's overall 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
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Birmingham, England, UK
Music Genre (Text)
Sony, Epic, Columbia/CBS, SPV, CMC, Atlantic, Gull
Ian Hill, Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, Scott Travis, Richie Faulkner
Past Group Members
Al Atkins, Alan Moore, John Hinch, Les Binks, Dave Holland, Tim "Ripper" Owens, K. K. Downing
West Bromwich, England
Judas Priest are an English heavy metal band formed in West Bromwich in 1969. The band have sold over 50 million copies of their albums to date. They are frequently ranked as one of the greatest metal bands of all time. Despite an innovative and pioneering body of work in the latter half of the 1970s, the band struggled with indifferent record production, repeated changes of drummer, and 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.
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