Judas Priest in Redeemer of Souls concert on 9 October 2014 at Barclay Center, Brooklyn, New York
|Origin||Birmingham, England, UK|
Tim "Ripper" Owens
K. K. Downing
Judas Priest are a British heavy metal band formed in Birmingham, England, in 1969. The band has sold over 45 million albums to date. MTV ranked them the second greatest metal band of all time. Despite an innovative and pioneering body of work in the latter half of the 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 the song "Better By You, Better Than Me" 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 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 with their most commercially successful line-up, featuring Halford, Tipton, Hill, guitarist K. K. Downing, and drummer Dave Holland.
Their influence, while mainly Halford's operatic vocal style and the twin guitar sound of Downing and 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. The Guardian referred to British Steel as the record that defines 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 2006, 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.
An earlier band with a different line-up had been formed in the West Midlands area 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). Stapenhill came up with the name Judas Priest from Bob Dylan's song "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" and they rehearsed at his house in Stone Cross. Perry either died in a car accident or committed suicide, according to Al Atkins, shortly after the band's formation, and was subsequently replaced by Ernie Chataway.). The band played their first gig on 25 November 1969 at The George Hotel in Walsall and then toured Scotland in December 1969 and January 1970. The group disbanded in April 1970 after their last gig on 20 April at The Youth Centre in Cannock.
The line-up that took over the name of Judas Priest included lead guitarist Kenny K. K. Downing, bassist Ian 'Skull' Hill and drummer John Ellis. The first two had known each other since early childhood, growing up on the Yew Tree estate in West Bromwich and 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. They agreed to join with Atkins, who suggested using his old band's name, and rehearsed at Atkins' mother-in-law's house in Stone Cross. The reformed group played their first gig on 16 March 1971 at St John's Hall, Essington.
With Downing as acting leader, the band moved away from their original blues influences to play hard rock. The 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 Walsall woman who suggested her brother, Rob Halford, as the band's singer. Halford joined them, 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, the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark including one show at Hotel Klubben in Tønsberg, 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 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 the band hired Les Binks on Glover's recommendation. Together, they recorded 1978's Stained Class, produced by Dennis MacKay, and Killing Machine (released in America as Hell Bent for Leather). Binks, credited with writing the 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 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 years (1979–1991)
Following the release of Killing Machine (1978) was the live release from the supporting tour, Unleashed in the East (1979). It was the first of many Judas Priest albums to go Platinum. 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 "Diamonds and Rust" sounding much heavier and faster 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 "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. "(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 "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 in 1986. A live album recorded on the tour, titled Priest...Live!, was released the next year, offering live tracks from the 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. The band recorded three tracks with pop producers Stock-Aitken-Waterman: two originals, "Runaround" and "I Will Return", and a cover of The Stylistics' hit "You Are Everything"; however, they were ultimately not included on this album due to a management decision. 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. In 1989, 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 songs except "A Touch of Evil". The tour used bands such as Annihilator, Megadeth, Pantera, Sepultura and Testament as opening bands, and culminated in the Rock in Rio performance in Brazil in front of 100,000+ fans.
Part of the Judas Priest stage show often featured 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 hidden behind clouds of dry ice mist. Though the show was delayed, he performed the set before going to a hospital. Hill later noted "he must have been in agony". In a 2007 interview, Rob claimed the accident had nothing to do with his departure from the band.
Subliminal message trial
In the middle 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 died 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 Stained Class (1978). 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 mixup 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.
Comedian Bill Hicks ridiculed the lawsuit as part of his act, pointing out the absurdity of the notion that a successful band would wish to kill off their purchasing fanbase.
Halford leaves (1991–1992)
After 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 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 revealed his homosexuality.
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 most popular songs.
The 2001 Drama-Comedy, "Rock Star" featuring Mark Wahlberg, is based on Tim "Ripper" Owens.
Reunion and Angel of Retribution (2003–2006)
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 was an inaugural inductee into the "VH1 Rock Honors". The ceremony took place 25 May 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and first aired on 31 May. Their presentation was preceded by Godsmack performing a medley of "Electric Eye"/"Victim of Changes"/"Hell Bent for Leather." Judas Priest then 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, Halford said of 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 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 fans to buy tickets only from official sources. In the same month, Judas Priest continued their tour, bringing their "Priest Feast" (with 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, Judas Priest performed in Portugal (at Lisbon on the Atlantic Pavilion), which they had not visited since 2005. The tour then continued to Milan, Italy, and then 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 British Steel (1980); the album was performed in its entirety on each tour date, with some other songs thrown in. 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 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 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 was 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 the 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".
Redeemer of Souls and next album (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, 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 a parody of their 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 at the Ronnie James Dio Awards in Los Angeles, 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, the band released a brand new track entitled "Redeemer of Souls" for streaming on their official website. On 5 May, Glenn Tipton gave an interview with Eddie Trunk on his radio talk show and said 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."
Priest finally released their long-awaited album Redeemer of Souls on 8 July 2014. It 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. The band went on tour in support of the album which ran from 1 October 2014 until 17 December 2015.
In a November 2015 interview with Reverb.com, Richie Faulkner said that the band would start work on a new album in 2016. In April 2016, Loudwire posted a photo showing Rob, Glenn and Richie in the studio beginning the process of the album. In an October interview with Mitch Gallagher of Sweetwater Sound, Faulkner stated that the band would begin recording in January 2017 and also said that they will not go on tour until 2018.
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 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. 1977's 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 of Judas Priest are generally measured and technical, the song "Dissident Aggressor" (1977) pushed an increase in "tempo and aggression" which was later adopted by bands like Motörhead with a much harder-edged approach. Starting with their fifth album, Killing Machine (1978), the band began to incorporate a more commercial, radio-friendly style to their music. British Steel has been referred to as the "record that, more than any other, codified what we mean by heavy metal". 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 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. Demolition (2001) has a more traditional heavy metal sound with nu metal elements. Following the return of Halford for Angel of Retribution and Nostradamus, the band returned to the style of its early albums.
Vocal style and influences
Halford listened to and was influenced by Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin and Robert Plant as a vocalist. He learned to push to the limits of his vocal abilities by their vocal demonstrations on record. He developed a powerful, operatic vocal style with an impressive range from lower throaty growls to ear-piercing high screams with strong vibrato. He was also a fan of Freddie Mercury, referring to him as his ultimate hero.
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. The band has sold over 45 million albums to date.
In addition to the sound, Judas Priest is also known for being revolutionary 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.
- Ian Hill – bass, backing vocals (1969–present)
- Rob Halford – lead vocals (1973–1992, 2003–present)
- Glenn Tipton – lead and rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals (1974–present)
- Scott Travis – drums (1989–present)
- Richie Faulkner – rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals (2011–present)
- Rocka Rolla (1974)
- Sad Wings of Destiny (1976)
- Sin After Sin (1977)
- Stained Class (1978)
- Killing Machine (1978)
- 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)
- Redeemer of Souls (2014)
- TBA (2017)
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