Judas Priest

Judas Priest are an English metal band that has been active since the early 1970s. Following two records on small-press Gull, the band signed with CBS and entered their most successful phase. Headed by the operatic wailing of vocalist Rob Halford, the band steered metal from its slower, blues-based roots to the galloping tightness of the NWOBHM.

Members: Ian Hill (bass), K.K. Downing [Kenneth Keith Downing] (guitar, 1970-2011), John Ellis (drums, 1970-71), Al Atkins (vocals, 1970-73), Skip [Alan Moore] (drums, 1971-73, 1975-77), Congo [Chris Campbell] (drums, 1972-73), John Hinch (drums, 1973-75), Rob Halford (vocals, 1973-91, 2003-present), Glenn Tipton (guitar, piano, vocals, 1974-present), Simon Phillips (drums, 1977), Les Binks [James Leslie Binks] (drums, 1977-79), Dave Holland (drums, 1979-89), Scott Travis (drums, 1989-present)

Judas Priest evolved out of Freight, a Birmingham hard-rock combo that featured guitarist K. K. Downing and bassist Ian “Skull” Hill. In 1970, they were joined by singer Al Atkins, whose earlier band had signed to Immediate just before that label collapsed. The new band inherited the earlier act’s name, Judas Priest, taken from a line in Bob Dylan’s “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest.”

Judas Priest toured the West Midlands bar circuit with a setlist comprised of Quatermass covers and Atkins/Downing originals. Three drummers passed through the lineup during this period. In early 1973, Atkins quit the band over financial and domestic concerns. Hill’s girlfriend, Sue Halford, suggested her brother Rob Halford, then singer for hard-rockers Hiroshima, which also included drummer John Hinch. The lineup of Halford, Downing, Hill, and Hinch signed with Iommi Management Agency, headed by Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi.

In the spring of 1974, Judas Priest toured Europe for the first time. Upon returning, they signed to Gull, which suggested they add a second guitarist. The band chose Glenn Tipton, then of West Midlands rivals The Flying Hat Band. That June, they began work on their first album.

Rocka Rolla

Judas Priest released their debut album, Rocka Rolla, on September 6, 1974, on Gull.

“Rocka Rolla”
Released: August 1974

Sad Wings of Destiny

Judas Priest released their second album, Sad Wings of Destiny, on March 23, 1976, on Gull.

“The Ripper”
Released: 19 March 1976 (UK)

Released: March 1977 (Japan)

Sin After Sin

Judas Priest released their third album, Sin After Sin, on April 8, 1977, on CBS.

“Diamonds & Rust”
Released: 29 April 1977

“Dissident Aggressor” (Japan)

Stained Class

Judas Priest released their fourth album, Stained Class, on February 10, 1978, on CBS.

“Better by You, Better than Me”
Released: 27 January 1978 (UK)

Released: 19 May 1978 (Japan)

Killing Machine

Judas Priest released their fifth album, Killing Machine, on October 9, 1978, on CBS.

“Before the Dawn”
Released: 27 October 1978
“Take On the World”
Released: 5 January 1979
“Evening Star”
Released: 27 April 1979
“The Green Manalishi”
Released: May 1979 (US)

“Hell Bent for Leather” (Japan)

Unleashed in the East

On September 17, 1979, Judas Priest released the live album Unleashed in the East.

British Steel

Judas Priest released their sixth album, British Steel, on April 11, 1980, on CBS.

“Living After Midnight”
Released: 21 March 1980
“Breaking the Law”
Released: 23 May 1980

Released: 15 August 1980

Point of Entry

Judas Priest released their seventh album, Point of Entry, on February 27, 1981, on CBS.

US cover

“Don’t Go”
Released: 6 February 1981 (UK)

“Hot Rockin'”
Released: 10 April 1981 (UK)

“Heading Out to the Highway”
Released: May 1981 (US)

Screaming for Vengeance

Judas Priest released their eighth album, Screaming for Vengeance, in July 1982 on CBS.

“You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'”
Released: 6 August 1982

“(Take These) Chains”
Released: 15 October 1982

Defenders of the Faith

Judas Priest released their ninth album, Defenders of the Faith, on January 13, 1984, on CBS.

“Freewheel Burning”
Released: January 1984
“Some Heads Are Gonna Roll”
Released: March 1984

“Love Bites”
Released: April 1984 (US)


Judas Priest released their tenth album, Turbo, in April 1986 on CBS.

“Turbo Lover”
Released: April 1986 (UK)
“Locked In”
Released: May 1986
“Parental Guidance”
Released: November 1986 (US)


On June 8, 1987, Judas Priest released Priest…Live!, a double-album recorded in the US on the Turbo tour.

Ram It Down

Judas Priest released their eleventh album, Ram It Down, on May 13, 1988, on CBS.

“Johnny B. Goode”
Released: April 1988
“Ram It Down”
Released: 1988 (NL)


Judas Priest released their twelfth album, Painkiller, on September 14, 1990, on CBS.

Released: 3 September 1990
“A Touch of Evil”
Released: 11 March 1991

Discography (1974–1990):


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