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.

Discography (1974–1990):


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