Living After Midnight

Album: British Steel (1980)
Charted: 12

Songfacts®:

  • This song is about the nocturnal life of a rock star; he rides into town at 1 a.m. and rocks out till dawn. The title though, came out of an incident when Judas Priest lead singer Rob Halford was trying to get some sleep.

    The band was recording their British Steel album at Tittenhurst Park, an estate once owned by John Lennon. One night around 4 a.m., guitarist Glenn Tipton set up his amp and started working out riffs in the big room where they did most of their work - the one where Lennon wrote "Imagine." Halford's bedroom was upstairs, and it woke him up. He came down, asked Tipton to turn down his amp, and told him, "You're living after midnight down here, you are!" Tipton replied, "That is a great title for a song." Halford wrote the lyric that day. (Halford told this tale in a 2007 BBC series about heavy metal).
  • This was the lead single from the British Steel album, the band's sixth. Judas Priest wasn't a singles band, but "Living After Midnight" still climbed to #12 in the UK, earning them their third appearance on Top Of The Pops. The episode aired March 27, 1980, but was recorded the day before, making them two hours late for a show in Birmingham. Fans were justifiably upset because the band gave priority to a mimed mass-consumption showcase over their fervent supporters. Priest agreed to never perform the show again on a day they had a gig.

    Meanwhile, in America, the song got some airplay on rock radio and earned them many new fans in that country. When they toured there in the summer of 1980, they played arenas in an early sign that heavy metal was finding an audience in the US. A few years later, Metallica became one of the biggest draws in that country.
  • Judas Priest's first music video was for "Living After Midnight." Directed by Julien Temple, it's mostly performance footage, showcasing the band's studded leather look. When the song did well, their label, Columbia Records, granted Temple a bigger budget for the video to their next single: "Breaking the Law." That one became their first concept video, showing the band robbing a bank armed only with their guitars.
  • The lyrics are intentionally vague, with Halford giving few details of what he's doing after midnight. We know he's riding a motorcycle (by this time, he was using a motorbike to make his stage entrance when the band performed "Hell Bent For Leather"), that he's "loaded," and that he's "Lovin' till the morning," but we don't know what he's loaded on our who he's lovin'. Judas Priest did their share of party songs, but unlike, say AC/DC, whom Priest opened for in 1979, they didn't give specifics. This was partly to keep the song focused on the carpe noctem concept of living life to the fullest in your own way, but also because Halford didn't want to glorify sex or drinking. He was a heavy drinker at the time, but not proud of it. He is also gay, so he didn't sing about scoring chicks.
  • The American rock band Disturbed covered this on Metal Hammer magazine's Tribute to British Steel compilation in 2010. It was also featured on Disturbed's The Lost Children compilation in 2011. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Charlie - Las Vegas, NV
  • On May 25, 2011, Judas Priest performed this on American Idol with one of the show's few metalhead contestants: James Durbin. This was guitarist Richie Faulkner's first appearance with the group.

Comments: 8

  • Doug from Buffalo, NyMrsteel you silly homophobe manchild! He never sang anything of the sort. Though there are some that say live he may have sang "I'm gonna blow ya'" instead of "I'm gonna floor ya'". In any case, the song is a standard hard rock party anthem that originated as a boring got woken up story. And the Live Aid version is great, other than the feedback!
  • Mrsteel from United StatesAfter Halford came out of the closet as being gay it made the lyrics a little more interesting "living after midnight, taking a bone in the rear, then I'm gone, I'm gone..."
  • Zero from Nowhere, NjWell, that's not a very interesting story how they came up with the song. Great song though!
  • Cyberpope from Richmond, CanadaJP was THE group to smoke weed to in the 80s!

    Buddy of mine got a good deal on a 8-speaker concert amp!

    Put that sucker out the 2nd floor window & cranked it -- we could hear JP playing a mile away! *LOL* (yeah, kind of outside the city!)
  • Marissa from Akron, OhJudas Priest
    :D :D :D
    they rule
  • Esteban from Iquique, ChileThis song it's perfomed in live aid
  • Jon from --------, SwedenIt's also been covered by Iron Savior.
  • Niklas Mørup from CopenhagenThis song has been covered by Toronto Hardcore band Microedge; as well as by The Donnas on their album The Donnas Turn 21.
see more comments

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