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Judas Priest - Never Forget

Updated: May 12








The music that matters most to us in our formative years often helps us to figure out who we are, who we want to be, who we’re going to become. Speaking for myself, most of the crucial albums and songs from my teenage years are still with me today. My relationship with the music has changed over the decades, just as I have, but the impact and importance of those cherished songs can never be denied.

This one is dedicated to all those smug fuckers who said I’d outgrow Heavy Metal as I got older. . . Further proof that you don’t have to be old to be wise. 


Judas Priest are part of the pantheon of bands that helped build the Metal world. If you’ve been with Heavy Metal for any amount of time, then you have at least a few favorite memories of Judas Priest. I will share some of my stories below, but first, we’ll get some great recollections from Rich Catino (Bravewords, MetalAsylum.net, Metal Hall of Fame), and novelist, Ray Van Horn, Jr., whose latest, “Revolution Calling,” is a must for any Metalhead of any age - - especially Gen X and younger Boomers. I want to thank them both so much for sharing their incredible JP moments. 


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RAY VAN HORN, JR. 


Judas Priest, man, I've got so many memories of this iconic juggernaut of metal music throughout my life as a fan and a metal journalist.  I can see myself as a teenager drawn to my felt poster in my bedroom for Defenders of the Faith, the album sitting in my lap.  "Love Bites" carried a smidge of a danger element back then, since our parents easily put the sexual connotation behind the song together.  We loved the Priest's leather accouterments, the twin guitar attacks, Ian Hill's lobbing gesticulations to accompany his lobbing bass lines, Rob Halford's hellish screeching.  The bombast and lavishness of their incomparable stage presentations which, along with Iron Maiden, set the standard for arena rock forever.  Halford rumbling out on the Harley to the titanic riff-fest of 'The Hellion.'  You knew it was on, whether hearing Screaming for Vengeance through your stereo or onstage.


I remember the contention amongst the metal masses when the slicked-out, AOR-friendly Turbo came out. People who'd condemned me for loving metal and accused me of worshipping Satan at the time of Motley Crue's Shout at the Devil were suddenly found wearing Girls Girls Girls t-shirts and of course, Turbo. I've made my peace with that album and still hold a fondness for the infectious thrum of 'Turbo Lover,' but I'll never forget my haters seeking my validation for their 'going heavy,' LOL. I was a bit of a rock snob in those days when I'd say shit like 'Oh, you're a Priest fan, now?  Name me one song off of Sad Wings of Destiny, Stained Class or even British Steel and they couldn't. Just dumb stuff I smile about today.


I had an officemate once, Sandy, who couldn't have been a lesser metal fan, but she loved Priest's Point of Entry album, probably my silent favorite of theirs. She was apeshit for 'Desert Plains' and we would stop working and jam that one out together. Sandy was a mentor and a good friend. We spun a lot of New Wave music and Judas Priest together.  


I got to see Priest on the Painkiller tour with Testament and Megadeth opening, as good as it gets in live metal. Totally sitting in my top five concerts ever.  None of it compares to having interviewed Rob Halford, KK Downing, Glenn Tipton and Tim "Ripper" Owens over the years.  Legacy men, all of them. Never discount what Ripper brought to the Priest in his short time with them. Jugulator and Demolition may not sit in the upper echelon of the catalog, but Ripper carried the Priest forward valiantly until Halford's return and we got the underrated bio-in-disguise film, Rock Star to tell his story.


Halford is the Metal God for a reason. Ronnie James Dio is, to me, the greatest metal vocalist of all-time, yet Rob Halford was always his immediate peer, if set in different pitches and octaves. I won't forget Halford telling me he was going to see his niece play in a violin recital after our interview and I got him laughing when I said, 'No pressure there, huh? Having the Metal God in your audience!' What a gracious king of man. Much love for Rob and the incurrent inception of Judas Priest, who have been slaying it the past few albums.



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RICH CATINO


Yes, I had to make it “memories,” because there are a couple. # 1- Priest are one of the foundation bands (of course) for my 40 year love of heavy metal music. I mean, how are they not? One of the godfathers of this music. First I was exposed to the hard rock sounds of Zeppelin, Sabbath, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Queen, AC/DC, Purple in the late 70s. But as an eleven, twelve, thirteen-year-old by the early 80s, and MTV, that opened a whole new rabbit hole for a love of hard rock music. And for us on the east coast, NY/NJ area we had another music channel called U68 the Power Hour at 11 pm eastern that played heavy metal music videos. They played 'Riding on the Wind' (live), 'Love Bites' and 'Freewheel Burning' off my favorite album "Defenders". But this channel played more variety, bands like Raven, Armored Saint, Savatage, Lizzy Borden, Grim Reaper. Not only could I hear music on the radio, but now there were videos, a visual component. Night Ranger were one of the first bands I remember because they had the album "Dawn Patrol" out the year after MTV started in 1981, and the hard rocker single 'Don't Tell Me You Love Me'. Following year, three more hits from Night Ranger including '(You Can Still) Rock In America and 'When You Close Your Eyes'. By 1982, Kiss 'I Love It Loud', Aldo Nova 'Fantasy', Survivor 'Eye of the Tiger', Scorpions 'No One Like You', and Iron Maiden 'Run to The Hills' and Judas Priest 'You've Got Another Thing Comin' had videos. But by 1983 heavy metal music started to become really big - thank you Quiet Riot's 'Cum on Feel The Noise' and 'Metal Health,’ and Def Leppard's multi-platinum "Pyromania" and those three hit singles - 'Photograph', 'Rock of Ages', and 'Foolin'. So now every time I went to the store with my mom I was on the hunt for albums (records) at Crazy Eddies electronics, the Union Marketplace (where I remember finding Venom "Black Metal" on cassette, and Helloween "Walls of Jericho") is where I also bought my patches and pins for the denim jacket, Two Guys then became Bradlees, Alwick Records in the Livingston Mall, Pathmark, Melody Records in Union Center. I do remember getting "Screaming for Vengeance" in ‘82, then went backwards to get "Point of Entry", "British Steel."




 

Memory # 2,  Judas Priest - “Nostradamus” Album Advance Listening Session, 5/08/08, Venue: Sony/Epic Records New York, NY. Yeah, this is a big one. I was asked (thanks Chip from Chipster PR) if I would like to hear the entire “Nostradamus” album at Epic Records a month before its release and do a special report for Metal Asylum.net. Of course I immediately made the time. Then, at the Vintage Vinyl in store signing I meet my childhood Heavy Metal heroes Rob Halford, KK Downing, and Glenn Tipton, take a picture with them, and have all three sign my copies of “Screaming for Vengeance” and “Defenders of the Faith” on LP before the actual event began. Yes I am very lucky, I know. And I must say I also feel very rewarded that all the hard work put into the website has been recognized at this level. Even when I said hello to the guys and told KK I heard the record he said “Oh yeah. . . you are one of the lucky few. What did you think?” And if once was not enough, I was asked to do this again for the Firepower album, pre listening in NYC.


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JACK MANGAN 


My turn.*


Metal Hall of Famer Tim “Ripper” Owens has had an incredible career, inside and out of Judas Priest. His current JP connection is his role as lead singer for KK’s Priest,** but he first rose to fame as the official Judas Priest vocalist, in place of Rob Halford (from 1996-2003, as Ray mentioned above). I’ve met Ripper on two occasions, in 2017 at the first Metal Hall of Fame gala and again at the 2024 gala, on the evening he was inducted. Our interactions were unremarkable, just smalltalk backstage; i.e., a bigger deal to me than it was to him, but it was still a thrill for a longtime fan. You couldn’t ask for a nicer, more gracious, more disarming, more down-to-earth, more genuine, more fan-appreciative Rock Star than Ripper.***



(This is the part where I drive the motorcycle out onto the stage.) 

You ready for one more story? One more? OK, OK, one more fun Judas Priest memory, then I’m gone. I’m gone.

 

 I don’t recall what the other plans were for that evening in 2009, but when they fell through, I drove to the downtown Phoenix theater and bought 2 upper deck tickets to see Judas Priest. I brought my girlfriend-at-the-time, who was not a fan (quote: “I can’t believe I’m seeing the ‘Breaking the Law’ band”), but she went along as a good sport. She acknowledged afterwards that they put on a great show. 

What made this night stand out from my numerous other Priest concerts? Two things: 

Steeler.” I’d never fully appreciated the album version until I heard their live take on it for this tour, with Scott Travis’s double-kicks and the tradeoff guitar solos in the outro. Guys, if you’re reading, I humbly request that “Steeler” return to the Judas Priest setlist. 

Metal Dads. There was a dad with 2 or 3 young teenagers in the row in front of me, way up there in the nosebleeds. The kids were laughing at their old man, but there was nothing cynical or mocking. They watched with genuine affection and appreciation as pops rocked out, fist-pumped, and sang along to every song. The teens were banging their heads and getting into it too, making great JP memories of their own. I’ve since been reminded of that family, enjoying my own similar experiences as a dad with the younger generation at Black Sabbath’s farewell tour, Iron Maiden, Zeal & Ardor in a tiny club, along with a few others. But those are stories for another time. . .

I’ll close by saying to EVERYONE who has contributed to the Judas Priest legend: we all know what memories can bring. Thank you.

For the diamonds.

For the rust.  


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Jack Mangan is best known in the Metal world as lead author/project runner for the “Am I Evil?” graphic novel, as a journalist with MetalAsylum.net and the official Metal Hall of Fame. and also as co-host of the popular (sporadic these days) Metal Hall of Fame and MetalAsylum.net livestreams with Rich Catino. He’s made a few guest appearances as a panelist on The Metal Voice. In an adjacent life, he was a podcast pioneer, with numerous appearances on Technorama, Dragon Page, Escape Pod/Pseudopod, and many others, including his own productions: Jack Mangan’s Deadpan, and the Podcast novel, “Spherical Tomi.” Friend him on Facebook if you can find him, but be warned: he’s not great about checking Facebook Messenger.


*You can find a bonus Priest memory of mine in this Metal Legacy article from last year: https://www.metalhalloffame.org/post/defenders-of-the-faith - - Like Rich Catino’s piece, this one involved U68’s Power Hour.

**Longtime guitarist, K.K. Downing left Judas Priest in 2011, formed KK’s Priest in 2020. 


Disclaimer: These articles are meant to document and comment on important aspects of Heavy Metal’s broad and diverse history. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the official Metal Hall of Fame. No mention of any artist should be misconstrued as an indication of intent to induct or deny admittance to the Metal Hall of Fame. We’re not dropping hints here, folks. There will be official press releases when new inductees are ready to be announced.

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