Rob HalfordVocals1972-1992, 2003-
Tim "Ripper" OwensVocals1996-2003
The band name is often attributed to the Bob Dylan song "The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest," but they actually took it from another English band that had broken up. The phrase "Judas Priest" is also a bit of early movie and TV slang, uttered by actors onscreen as an alternative to saying "Jesus Christ" because the studios did not want to risk offending audience members.
Jeff - Haltom City, TX
Lead singer Rob Halford is openly gay. He came out in 1998 at a time when many entertainers were reluctant to do so. Fans of the hard-rocking singer were shocked, but there was no backlash and the admission had little effect on his career.
Early on, their manager assigned them nicknames in an effort to garner more publicity. Halford was "The Queen" and Ian Hill was "The Skull." The only one that stuck was "KK" for Ken Downing.
Halford was a lighting engineer for stage productions before joining Judas Priest. His love of theatrics translated to the band's concerts, where they use various combinations of pyrotechnics, smoke machines, spotlights and oversized props to create elaborate effects. A trademark of the band is Halford's entrance on a motorcycle.
In 1986, two guys made a 15-minute video in the parking lot of a Judas Priest concert called Heavy Metal Parking Lot
, which perfectly captures '80s heavy metal culture and became a cult favorite in the days when viral videos were disseminated on VHS.
Tim Owens sang in a cover band before replacing Halford as lead singer. The 2001 movie Rock Star is loosely based on his life.
In July 2003, Rob Halford and Judas Priest announced they had reunited. They had a successful reunion tour in 2004 and were included in Ozzfest 2004.
Cody - San Antonio, TX
Halford has said that his favorite book is the thesaurus. He likes to put words in his lyrics that are very unusual.
Judas Priest were erroneously called "black metal" during the band's appearance in Season 25 of The Simpsons. In the following week's opening credits by way of apology, Bart wrote, "Judas Priest is not death metal" on the board.
Asked by Missouri's KSHE 95 Real Rock Radio what hobbies he likes to partake in, Glen Tipton replied that his main love is fishing. "I like to fly fish," the Judas Priest guitarist said. "And I go to Scotland and Ireland and places like that. And I've got some fantastic friends from all over the world I've been fishing with. It's very difficult to do any on tour, to fish; you need a complete day and you've usually gotta get well out of town. But that's what I love; I love the countryside, I love animals and I love to fish."
In 1985, two Nevada teenagers shot themselves after listening to the Judas Priest album Stained Class. One of the boys died, but the one who survived claimed the music compelled them to attempt suicide. The mother of the boy that died sued the band, but the case was dismissed five years later.
Until he emerged from rehab in 1986, Rob Halford always had a few drinks before taking the stage. He says performing sober is better: he gets a high from the music instead of the alcohol.
In the late '80s, thinking they might want a hit single, they recorded three songs with the British pop production team Stock Aitken Waterman. They liked the results but decided not to release the songs for fear of alienating their fans.