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Judas Priest biography (bio):
Judas Priest are an English heavy metal band formed in 1970 in Birmingham. Originally formed by guitarist K. K. Downing and bassist Ian Hill, Judas Priest's core line-up consists of Downing, Hill, vocalist Rob Halford and guitarist Glenn Tipton. 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." They have sold over 35 million albums worldwide.

Origins:
K.K. Downing (Kenneth Downing Jr.) and Ian Hill knew each other almost since birth, as they lived nearby, attended the same nursery and school in West Bromwich. Their friendship drew closer in their early teens as they shared similar musical interests (Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Cream, the Yardbirds) and both started to learn to play an instrument.
In 1970 a fairly well known local ensemble named Judas Priest (after Bob Dylan's song "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" from the John Wesley Harding album) broke up and the band's singer, Al Atkins, approached Downing and Hill who accepted him as their singer and adopted his former band's name.
With Downing in control, the band moved swiftly from their original bluesy tunes towards heavy rock and then what later would be defined as heavy metal. This trio, with various drummers, continued extensive touring of Birmingham and the surrounding areas, sometimes supporting Budgie, Thin Lizzy and Trapeze, until 1974. Financial difficulties and problems with their management, Tony Iommi's company, IMA, lead to Alan Atkins' and drummer Alan Moore's departures.
At the time, Ian Hill was dating a girl from nearby town Walsall who suggested her brother, Robert Halford, as singer. Halford (who previously worked as a stage manager at a local cinema) was admitted to the band, and brought with him drummer John Hinch from his previous band, Hiroshima. This line-up toured heavily in the UK, often supporting Budgie, and even headlining some shows in Norway and Germany.

Rocka Rolla and growing fanbase:
Before the band entered the studio to record their first album, the record company suggested another musician should join them. Reluctant to add an keyboard or horn player, Downing settled on another guitarist named Glenn Tipton, from the Stafford-based Flying Hat Band. In August 1974, the band debuted with the single "Rocka Rolla", before releasing an album of the same name a month later. According to Judas Priest band members, there were some technical problems during recording, but the record company refused to address them, and the album suffered "horrible" sound quality. Management problems also prevailed; according to the band, producer Rodger Bain, (who was an established professional, having produced numerous albums for famous groups such as Black Sabbath) had too big a say in the production of the album. He left out stage classics "Tyrant", "Genocide", and "The Ripper", and cut another, "Caviar and Meths", from a 10-minute song to a 2-minute instrumental.
With their next album, the band gained some more experience and confidence, fully participating in the production, as well as choosing the producers. The result was Sad Wings of Destiny (1976). This album featured mostly old material, including the aforementioned stage favorites and an epic "Victim of Changes" - a song combining "Whiskey Woman", a stage classic since the era of the first Judas Priest (Al Atkins' band) and "Red Light Lady" brought by Halford from his previous group, Hiroshima. This and a legendary 1975 performance at the Reading Festival had given them a name on the British scene, giving them ground for a strong fanbase.
Three subsequent albums, 1977's Sin After Sin and 1978's Stained Class and Killing Machine (released in America as Hell Bent for Leather), further explored the possibilities of the heavy metal genre, employing such talented drummers as session player extraordinaire Simon Phillips and Les (James Leslie) Binks. Killing Machine marked a new turn in the creative direction Judas Priest was taking: the songs were shorter and had commercial appeal, yet were performed with a lot of metal punch. This emphasis on simple, albeit relentless and powerful beats that needed to be performed live with equal power led to Les Binks (he wrote the music for "Beyond the Realms of Death"), a jazzy type of drummer, leaving, and Dave Holland (ex-Trapeze) becoming their new drummer. With this line-up, Judas Priest recorded twelve studio and two concert albums to different degrees of critical and financial success; overall, the band has sold in excess of 30 million albums globally.

Mainstream success:
Following the release of Killing Machine, a live release from the tour in support of it was released, entitled Unleashed in the East. It was the first of many Judas Priest albums to go Platinum, and is considered to be one of metal's greatest live albums of the 70's. At the time, a considerable number of fans and critics alike dubbed the release "Unleashed in the Studio", due to what they considered a studio-enhanced live album, filled with overdubs. Nonetheless, many early Priest classics are recorded here, such as "Diamonds & Rust" and "The Ripper."
The spring of 1980 saw the release of one of metal's most important albums: British Steel. Due to the new drummer (from Trapeze), Dave Holland's capabilities, the songs were shorter and had more mainstream radio hooks, but retained its metal feel altogether. Tracks such as "United," "Breaking the Law," and "Living After Midnight" were frequently played on the radio, and they immediately have been launched to fame.
The next release, 1981's Point of Entry, followed the same formula, but critics regarded it as a failed attempt to top the last release. However, the tour in support was very successful, with new songs such as "Solar Angels" and "Heading Out to the Highway" to prove it.
1982's Screaming for Vengeance implied just that; Priest had come back. Their most popular track, "You've Got Another Thing Comin'," was played frequently on American radio, and earned them even bigger success in the United States. Songs such as "Electric Eye" and "Riding on the Wind" also appeared off this album, and proved to be great live tracks. This album went 2 times Platinum.
Defenders of the Faith was released in 1984. Even though it was more progressive than their earlier efforts, fans hailed it as "Screaming for Vengeance II," due to its musical likeness to the previous albu However, the tour was successful.
Turbo was released in 1986. This was a time when hair bands were popular, and to keep up with the times, Priest changed their look to a more colourful band. Their sound was more poppy as well, with synthesisers to accompany the playing. The album also went Platinum and had a very successful tour in support, but many hail this album to be their sellout release. A live album recorded on the tour, titled Priest... Live!, was released the next year, offering fans live tracks from their 80s 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 May 31, 1986 for a Judas Priest concert (with special guests Dokken) at the Capital Centre (later renamed US Airways Arena) in Landover, Maryland.
In 1988, Ram it Down was released, showcasing re-recorded material that was scrapped from the Turbo years. It was more or less a return to form for the band, but many believed this album was showing their age and inability to keep up with the thrash metal bands of the time.This also mark the end of the relationship with longtime drummer, Dave Holland.
In 1990, everything changed with the release of Painkiller, featuring a new drummer, Scott Travis (formerly from Racer X). While not as successful as some of their earlier releases, this was highly acclaimed by fans and critics alike, deeming it Priest's ultimate comeback. The synthesisers displayed in their last two efforts were dropped except for one song, the pseudo-ballad "A Touch of Evil." The tour in support was extremely successful as well, with bands such as Pantera, Megadeth and Sepultura opening, and culminating in the Rock in Rio performance in Brazil.
In a Toronto show in 1991, Rob Halford was seriously injured in an accident as he rode on stage with his motorcycle, but was unable to see because of the dry ice, and collided with a drum riser. While the show was delayed because of his injury, he did perform the entire set (Hill later noted that "he must have been in agony"), only to be taken to hospital afterwards. He later claimed the accident was one of the motivating forces for his departure from Judas Priest.
For nearly 5 years, Priest was to remain in the shadows, with no release to top Painkiller.

Subliminal message trial:
In summer 1990, the band was involved in a civil action that alleged they were responsible for the suicide attempts in 1985 of 20-year old James Vance and 19-year old Ray Belknap in Reno, Nevada, USA. On December 23, 1985 Vance and Belknap got intoxicated then went to a playground at a Lutheran church in Reno. Belknap shot a 12 gauge shotgun under his chin dying instantly, and Vance followed, but survived with a severely disfigured face. He died approximately three years later, after a suicidal overdose of his painkillers.
The mens' parents and their legal team alleged that a subliminal message of "do it" had been included in the song "Better By You, Better Than Me" from the Stained Class album (actually a cover of a Spooky Tooth number), and that the command triggered the suicide attempt. The suit was eventually dismissed on its merits, as the band had pointed out that if you were to play any song backwards and tell someone there was a message, it'll sound as though there actually is. One of the defense 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. In the documentary Halford commented that if they wanted to insert subliminal commands in their music, killing their fans would be counterproductive, and they would prefer to insert the command "Buy more of our records". Regarding the prosecution's assertions, Halford pointed out that "do it" had no direct message, commenting "Well...do what? Mow the lawn? Have a drink? Watch some television? Wh-wha...do what?"
In popular culture comedian Bill Hicks used a similar notion in one of his stand-up routines, asking "What musician wants his audience dead?" He further performed an apocryphal sketch in a British accent mimicking Judas Priest being sick of their immense wealth, power, and fame and coming up with the subliminal message as a solution to their problems. Also comedian Denis Leary also commented on the trial on his album No Cure For Cancer, saying that heavy metal bands should put more subliminal messages in their records: "Kill the band, kill your parents, then kill yourself".
Jay Leno also mocked the Judas Priest trial, in a somewhat milder form than the comics above-referenced, by saying that Judas Priest albums, when played forward, sing about cannibalism and devil worship...."So what's it gonna say backwards that it doesn't say forwards? 'Go to church with your family?'"
Far from faded, this trial is still thought of and referenced by people inside and outside of the music community. For instance, the Bloodhound Gang song "Lift Your Head Up High" includes an extended reference to the Subliminal Message trial, going so far as to parody the concept of playing a song backwards. As well, the Mr. Show episode "The Return of the Curse of the Creature's Ghost" has a sketch in which a fictional band "Titanicca" is sued by a fan that tries suicide after listening to their hit song "Try Suicide".

Halford leaves:
After the end of their highly acclaimed and successful Painkiller tour in 1991, Halford left Judas Priest. Rumors regarding internal tensions within the band and the possibility that he may be gay started to circulate as early as September of 1991. Halford went to form a street-style thrash metal group, known as Fight in the summer of 1993, a band in which Priest's current drummer Scott Travis had joined for recording. He formed this band due to his desire to explore new musical territory, but due to contractual obligations, he left Judas Priest in 1993.
Despite all this, Halford collaborated with the band 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 1995, after two albums (War of Words in 1993 and A Small Deadly Space in 1995) Fight had disbanded, because their record company, Epic Records had dropped them due to lack of demand. It was at this point Halford got together with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and John Lowery to create an album by Halford's next solo outing, the industrial metal act known as 2wo. This was also the time when he revealed his homosexuality in a 1998 interview on MTV. Due to the numerous rumors regarding this, it came as little surprise to fans; this was already known by his former bandmates in Priest.

The Ripper Owens era:
Tim "Ripper" Owens, who had previously sung in a Judas Priest tribute band British Steel, was hired in 1996 as Judas Priest's new singer. Since Fight had disbanded, Scott Travis had returned to the drum riser. This line up released two albums, Jugulator and Demolition as well as two double-live albums - Live Meltdown and Live in London, the latter of which had a live DVD counterpart. Jugulator sold relatively well but Demolition did not sit well with fans or mainstream alike; most believed Ripper could not be a true replacement for Halford's vocal abilities.
Owens' story of turning from fan to frontman was the inspiration for the film Rock Star, although Owens did not actually participate in the production of the movie. Because the film's content bore only a tangential resemblance to Owens's actual history with the band, Judas Priest later moved to disassociate themselves from the film. The film (starring Mark Wahlberg) was a critical and commercial flop, though the fictional band portrayed in the film - Steel Dragon - achieved a sort of cult status among Heavy Metal and Judas Priest fans. As of December 2006, Steel Dragon is one of the Top 20 most-looked-up band sites on the popular online Rock Music database: Rock Detector.
Due to Halford's desire to return to traditional metal and his failed attempt to rejoin Judas Priest, Halford had disbanded 2wo, after one album (1997's Voyeurs). Thus, he started a third solo act, entitled Halford. Halford had returned with a vengeance; his first album Resurrection showed fans around the world that Halford had not lost his ability to create great metal music. The tour in support of the album was also successful; Halford, along with Queensrche, served as the opener for the newly-reunited Iron Maiden. In 2001, Live Insurrection was released, and in 2002 Halford released his second studio album Crucible.
On August 15, 2002 PETA sent the band's management a request to stop wearing leather onstage. It was even reported that they asked the band to change the name of their Hell Bent for Leather album to Hell Bent for Pleather. Judas Priest responded that they wear artificial leather, but PETA still protested that this could encourage listeners to wear real leather.

Reunion with Halford:
After almost twelve years apart, as well as an ever-growing demand for a reunion, Judas Priest and original lead vocalist Rob Halford announced they would reunite in July 2003, to coincide with the release of the Metalogy box set. They immediately embarked on a live 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. Both tours were extremely successful. 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 hugely successful. Judas Priest and "Ripper" Owens parted amicably, with Owens joining as the lead singer of American heavy metal band Iced Earth to record the album The Glorious Burden, which was released in 2004 by SPV Records. Ripper also formed a side-project called Beyond Fear, whose self-titled debut was release in May 2006, also by SPV Records.
As for the Halford band, writing for the fourth release was cut off. However, after the Retribution tour in June of 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 of 2006 he remastered his back catalog 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 induction:
Judas Priest, Kiss, Queen, and Def Leppard were the inaugural inductees into the "VH1 Rock Honors." The ceremony took place May 25, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and first aired on May 31, 2006. Their presentation was preceded by the band Godsmack performing a medley of "Electric Eye"/"Victim of Changes"/"Hell Bent for Leather", and 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. On April 6, 2006, the Associated Press announced the event by saying "the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame looks to be getting some competition."

Recent events:
In a June 2006 interview with MTV.com, frontman Rob Halford said about the group's upcoming concept album about the legendary 16th century French prophet 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 will contain musical elements that might surprise their fans. "It's going to have a lot of depth," the singer explained. "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."
In addition to this, in a February 2007 interview with Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles, KK Downing revealed they have recorded a total of 18 tracks, with a length of over 90 minutes. He notes there is not much he would like to cut down, so it will likely be a double-CD release, the first full-length LP to do so. He adds that Rob Halford's vocal tracks are currently being laid down, and the rhythm will most likely follow suit. He also reveals that the current orchestrations are MIDI converters, and he does not know if an outside orchestra will be used.
In the 2000's, Priest has become known to a new generation thanks to their music being included on the soundtracks of several popular video games. 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. The newest addition to the Guitar Hero franchise, 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" as a song on the game's soundtrack. Its sequel Gran Turismo 4 features "Freewheel Burning". The song "Breaking the Law" is also featured on the soundtrack to the 2006 PC, PS2 and XBOX game Scarface: The World is Yours

Musical style and influence:
Judas Priest were one of the first bands to modernize the twin-lead-guitar sound, with the duo of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton. They combined this sound with Rob Halford's high-pitched, melancholic and angry screaming lead vocals to create their own unique style of heavy-rock. They are cited often for their influence on heavy metal and the root sound of the guitar work in speed metal and thrash metal.
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., "The Ripper", "Starbreaker") 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; others, like "Dissident Aggressor", "Sinner" and "Tyrant", are considered to be some of the heaviest songs of their day, and even 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 slight change of direction towards shorter, poppier, more American-influenced songs. The following release, British Steel , (April 14, 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 (February 26, 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 (July 17, 1982) - which contained the popular radio hit "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" - and Defenders of the Faith (January 4, 1984) once again set high standards in intensity and production, and continued to influence the sonic shape of heavy metal. Turbo (April 15, 1986) found the group introducing a "synth-guitar" sound to their metal template.
Ram It Down (1988), which was originally to be part of a two album set with the Turbo album, 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, bordering on an atonal black-metal-like scream. Indeed, Florida death metal band Death have even covered the title track on their album The Sound of Perseverance.
The Best of Judas Priest: Living After Midnight (1997) is a greatest hits album including hits such as "Electric Eye", "Turbo Lover", "Living After Midnight", "The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown" and many other hits. It contains the hits from 1979 through 1990.
Judas Priest also released two albums with Tim 'Ripper' Owens following Rob Halford's departure. Jugulator (1997) was given mixed reviews, although it contains the epic "Cathedral Spires" which became one of Ripper's more popular songs. Demolition (2001) was generally considered another disappointment, although it was another "back to the basics" album, holding some memorable tracks.
Judas Priest's last release, 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 an over 13 minute epic ("Lochness") - something the band had not done since its concerts in the early 1970s.

Influence on the genre:
Judas Priest have influenced many heavy metal musicians in three musical generations, in sound and technique. Their influence was so important that MTV.com named Judas Priest the second most important band in heavy metal, just behind Black Sabbath.
In addition to the sound, Judas Priest were also known for being the revolutionaries in the heavy metal fashion. Rob Halford began incorporating a macho/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, Iron Maiden singer Paul Di'Anno started wearing leather jackets and studded bracelets, and Saxon would wear spandex; 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 80's, 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.

Members:
-K. K. Downing.
-Ian Hill.
-Glenn Tipton.
-Rob Halford.
-Scott Travis.
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