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THE ALUMNI

 

LES BINKS - DRUMS:

  • Born James Leslie Binks.

  • Was in Judas Priest from March 1977 to July 1979.

Former Eric Burdon drummer James Leslie Binks was a drummer on the 1974 Roger Glover album Butterfly Ball And The Grasshopper's Feast, which featured such legendary names as David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, and Ronnie James Dio behind the microphone. The album started out as a soundtrack for an animated film based off a famous book in England. Roger used different singers for the different characters, but unfortunately, a promo for the film never gained any interest, so the project was scrapped. Roger went on to release the soundtrack as a "Roger Glover and Friends" title. Vocalist Eddie Hardin co-wrote three of the album's songs with Roger Glover and then went on to release his own written and produced projects, the first of which was 1976's Eddie Hardin's Wizard's Convention, which again included Les Binks on drums and David Coverdale lending his voice to one track that has come to be known as one of his best and most emotional studio-recorded vocal ever! Also on the album was Deep Purple's Jon Lord on piano. Both Butterfly Ball and Wizard's Convention have been placed together and re-released several times as a combo CD, and Japan's Teichiku label issued their own 1995 CD compilation titled Best Of Rare Collection and sold it as a Deep Purple album! Through the Roger Glover connection, Judas Priest auditioned and hired Les Binks in time for their 1977 world tour - their first on American soil.

Les remained with Priest for two short but very productive years, recording two studio albums and one live LP that remain the most ground-shaking and defining of the heavy metal genre. Though Les is highly considered a favorite amongst the hardcore fans, as Priest entered the '80s, the members felt a change in musical direction was forthcoming, and Les would be too technical for the pounding metal Priest were planning on unleashing in the new decade.
 

     "...Even as great as Les was, after those few albums, we wanted to go after something a little more simple and harder,..Ē
- Rob Halford, EDGE magazine, May 2003

WHERE IS HE NOW?:

Since his departure, Priest members have jokingly claimed to have lost touch with Binks and his whereabouts:

     "I think he went into a vegetarian clinic in New Mexico. We haven't seen him since. The only way that you can find out is sometimes large areas of bean plantations have been attacked in the night, and we think that that's Les."
- Glenn Tipton, Goldmine magazine, June 5, 1998

But the truth is, Les has remained active in the British hard rock/heavy metal underground. In 1981, he was a member of Lionheart which featured Dennis Stratton (ex-Iron Maiden) on guitar and Jess Cox (ex-Tygers Of Pan Tang) on vocals. Unfortunately it was only a brief stint that yielded no albums, though they did open for Def Leppard on their 1981 British tour.


Les Binks 2002

Lately, Les has been playing in a classic-rock cover band around South London called The Shakers with ex-Alice Cooper/Almighty guitarist Pete Friesen and vocalist/guitarist Tom Lundy of The Poormouth. Rounding out the band is bassist Eamonn Doyle. Here's a pic of the group when Wizard Oz of Snake Eyes joined them for a couple of numbers at Eddies Bar in Luton, England:

Les and Pete Friesen have also done time in Metalworks along with ex-Iron Maiden guitarist Tony Parsons (Tony was one of a series of guitarists that played briefly in Maiden in '79 before Dennis Stratton joined the band), playing Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and other legendary metal band covers around London:

And Les also had a recent stint with an Irish Country/Folk/Pop trio called the Faintin' Goats as well as past touring with Lionheart (featuring ex-Iron Maiden guitarist Dennis Stratton) in 1981 and Tytan (1982-1983).

RECORDINGS:

Eric Burdon (Animals): single "Touch Me" (1974)
Roger Glover (with
David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, and Ronnie James Dio): Butterfly Ball And The Grasshopper's Feast (1974)
Fancy: Wild Thing and  Something To Remember (1974-1975)
Eddie Hardin (with Roger Glover, David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes and Jon Lord): Wizzards Convention (1976)
Axispoint: Axispoint (1977)
Roger Chapman: Mail Order Magic (1980)
Gary Benson: MOONLIGHT WALKING (1982)

DAVE HOLLAND - DRUMS:

     "Dave's an excellent drummer and has a good personality. His style of drumming is very steady and solid. He doesn't try to fit things in and be fancy just for the sake of it. Dave's the sort of drummer that would rather leave something out and make his impact that way, instead of dealing with a real technical jazz-type drum fill. All I can say is that Dave's a damn good heavy rock drummer in my book."
- Ian Hill, Turbo Fax tourbook, 1986

  • Born on April 5, 1948 in Northamptonshire, Wolverhampton, England and

  • Joined Judas Priest in August 1979.

  • Started out on piano at age six, but quickly took to the drums:

     "Well, I started playing the piano when I was six, but I think I always had a mania for the drums. I was constantly tapping along to records on the radio, banging knives and forks on the table or on top of biscuit tins! I eventually got my first kit when I was 10. As a youngster, I listened to a lot of jazz, and my first rock influence was Johnny Kidd & The Pirates."
- Dave Holland, Turbo Fax tourbook, 1986
 

Dave uses Tama drums, Remo heads and Paiste cymbals with Judas Priest.

DAVE'S DEPARTURE:

Dave Holland would go on to spend the longest and most successful recording era with Judas Priest, from 1979 to 1989, before exiting the band due to fatigue and family health issues.

     "Dave left the group of his own choice at the end of the Ram It Down tour. He was complaining about being very physically burnt out and really not feeling that he was giving as much that we all give, you know. You gotta give everything when you make your music.
     "I think Dave would probably be the first to admit that heavy metal was important to him, but maybe not as important as it is to someone like me, who lives, breathes, drinks, sleeps, eats heavy metal music, you know? So he made a professional and a gentlemanly decision by leaving the group.

- Rob Halford, Radio MCB, February 2, 1991

     "Dave Holland chose to leave the band of his own accord - he did not want to travel so much and wanted to be with his family more; it was his decision to leave."
- Jayne Andrews, Management Co-ordinator for Judas Priest, September 22, 2003

     "Dave Holland continued a very successful career with Judas Priest for ten years notching up seven albums and countless tours across the world. In 1989 he decided to take time out of the hectic life of touring and the rock world to concentrate his efforts on independent production, working for a number of artists. In 1992 he saw a band that were to capture his imagination. 'The Love Garden' had struck a special chord with Holland, enough for him to decide that he wanted to put something back into the music Industry for which he had so greatly benefited from himself. He has now set up his own management company to handle the up-and-coming band in their quest for fame and fortune."
- Gerard Franklin, Trapeze biography, 1994

Holland would not leave music entirely, though there was another little-known set-back: It is reported that the Ibiza Sound Studios Dave had purchased in 1983 (and where Priest had recorded several early '80s hit albums) had unfortunately burned to the ground  in 1986:

     "In 1999 I tried to visit the Ibiza studios where Priest recorded POINT OF ENTRY through DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH, but after much investigation, I discovered the studios had burnt down in 1986 (suspicious circumstances, possible insurance job, I was informed by some locals, though it was too long ago for them to remember exact details). I also remembered reading in the news at the time that Paul Young had almost finished his BETWEEN TWO FIRES album there, lost it all in the studio fire and had to re-record in Italy."
- Eyewitness report

Never-the-less, after a short rest, he got back into the music business, reuniting with his former mates in Trapeze for some concerts in 1991 and 1992 (two of which were recorded and released as live albums in 1998). In 1996, Dave managed a young Swedish funk teen trio called Shutlanger Sam. Also that same year, Dave played drums on a yet-to-be-released solo album by Tony Iommi that has long been out in the bootleg underground as "EIGHTH STAR". Now, Iommi is mixing the original master tapes and planning to officially release the album (under a possible different title and artwork from the bootleg) in late 2004. 1996 also saw Holland team up with original Judas Priest singer Al Atkins to record Al's album Victim Of Changes (released in 1998), which featured several Al Atkins penned Judas Priest songs from the early days. By 2000, Holland was still a part of Atkins' band and there were plans to record a new album under the moniker of Steelforce or Atkins/Holland.


Dave with Al Atkins: L-R: Paul May - g; Pete Emms - b; Al Atkins - v; Dave Holland - d

While work did begin on this project, word came out that Dave was no longer working with Al and instead, Al's special guest was former Def Leppard guitarist Pete Willis. Though nothing else has come of this project to date, Al did confirm that Dave was no longer working with him.

Dave however did stay busy in the music industry, contributing to a couple of tracks on the Phenomena album Psychofantasy, as well as conducting a drum clinic and slowly working on an album of his own which he started back in 1994: A collaboration project of all the artists he has worked with throughout his career. Artists who have already pledged their support include: Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Justin Haywood (Moody Blues), Mel Galley (Whitesnake/Trapeze), and Glenn Hughes (Trapeze/Deep Purple).

     "Dave Holland is at present recording tracks with members of Judas Priest for a solo project (rather than a full-blown Judas Priest re-union)..."
- Tom Galley, Phenomena Writer/Producer, GHPG online chat, January 2003

While this solo effort could have been quite interesting to devoted fans, it now appears it will never see the light of day as Dave has met a career-crippling and shocking roadblock:

Charges were made against Dave Holland in 2003 alleging that he sexually abused and attempted to rape a 17-year old wheelchair-bound teenage boy who had been taking drum lessons at Dave's Northamptonshire cottage from June through December of 2002. Holland denied the charges, but on January 23, 2004, in Northampton Crown Court, a jury found Dave guilty of trying to rape the teen, along with an additional five charges of indecently assaulting the teenager. On Friday, February 13, 2004, Dave Holland was sentenced to 8 years in jail.

     "The letter revealed that things were happening at his drum teacher's house that should not have been happening."
- Maria Savvides, prosecuting attorney, BBC News, January 15, 2004

    "He was very disturbed, really aggressive and mixed up. We noticed it. During the time he was going to Dave's we noted he was getting blotches on his arms, towards the end, the last few lessons. About the last time he went to Dave's he started to have baths every day - he doesn't like having baths."
- Boy's father, BBC News, January 16, 2004

    "I in particular would be interested in an assessment of the risk Mr. Holland poses to adolescent young men,"
- Judge Charles Wide QC, BBC News, January 23, 2004

     "You planned this abuse by grooming his parents and him through the careful construction of the opportunity to abuse and the common factors of detaching a boy from his parents by giving him cigarettes, alcohol and porn. You must never work with children again."
- Judge
Charles Wide QC, BBC News, February 13, 2004


Dave Holland outside Northampton
Crown Court, 2004

DAVE'S RECORDINGS:

Pinkerton's Assorted Colours (only singles and a compilation CD were released): Mirror Mirror/She Don't Care (1965); Don't Stop Loving Me Baby/Will Ya? (1966); Magic Rocking Horse/It Ain't Right (1966); Mum And Dad/On A Street Car (1967); There's Nobody I'd Sooner Love/Look At Me (1967); Kentucky Woman/Behind The Mirror (1968); FLIGHT RECORDER: FROM PINKERTON'S ASSORTED COLOURS TO THE FLYING MACHINE (2004)

Trapeze: Trapeze (1970); Medusa (1970); You Are the Music, We're Just The Band (1972); Hot Wire (1974);
Final Swing
(1974); Trapeze (1975); Hold On/Running (1978); Way Back To The Bone: Live (1998);
Welcome to the Real World: Live
(1998)


Trapeze in 1971; Dave is on the right


Trapeze in 1972; Dave is in the middle

Justin Hayward: Songwriter (1977); Night Flight (1980)

Glenn Hughes: Play Me Out (1977)

Robin George: Dangerous Music (1985)

Tony Iommi: Eighth Star (1996) This has been released only as a bootleg in 1999 and is not the final title. Tony Iommi plans to release the official album sometime in 2004.

Al Atkins: Victim Of Changes (1998)

RIPPER OWENS - VOCALS:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
 

     "Obviously, I'm a heavy-metal singer, and that's what I feel I do the best, but my voice isn't limited to the stereotypical '80s heavy-metal voice. I think my voice does cross over. I can sound like myself and have the young kids like it."
- Ripper Owens, Cleveland Scene, December 17, 2003

  • Born Timothy Steven Owens September 13, 1967 in Akron, Ohio, where he still resides.

  • Joined Judas Priest in February 1996 and carried the band through until their inevitable reunion with Rob Halford in July 2003.

  • Wife: Jeannie, son: Timothy Steven Owens Jr., daughter: Taylor Skye Owens (born April 2, 2005). Also has a teenage daughter named Lauren from a previous marriage to Leslie Anderson.

  • Tim's sister-in-law is married to his older brother. Tim's known his wife's family for most of his life.

  • Owens was paid a retainer by Judas Priest and received more when they went on tour. Off duty, he supplemented his income by helping his father-in-law on construction jobs around the neighborhood. In fact, his wife makes more than he does!

  • Nickname "Ripper" given by Glenn Tipton at a pub after the initial audition, where Owens impressed when he covered the song of the same title.

     "What's my name? The Ripper!"
- Ripper Owens

ROCK STAR:
While the movie deviated from reality, one fact rings true - Tim Owens ascended from a tribute singer to the very throne of his Metal God idol...

 

Indeed, Tim ascended to the heights that only dreams are made of, but his path to success actually began at home with the support of his family. In fact, his parents are so supportive of his musical choices that for his 18th birthday, they had a cake decorated with the Metallian figure off the cover of Defenders Of The Faith! It all began in 1983 when Tim was at the impressionable age of 16 and his older brother brought home the Judas Priest album Screaming for Vengeance. Soon after, a transformation had begun:

     "His room - walls and ceiling - was nothing but posters of Judas Priest."
- Sherri Owens
(Ripper's mom), New York Times, July 27, 1997

     "Adding to the remarkable nature of Owens's career move is the fact that he came to the attention of Judas Priest not because he sought the band out but by dint of a grainy, homemade videotape of one of his performances, 'I still can't quite believe it', said Owens, who has a Charlie Brown youthfulness in his round face and lives in a neat little frame house next door to his parents in a blue-collar Akron neighborhood surrounded by crumbling factories, junkyards and tattoo parlors. The group and its manager have been grooming Owens for his new role, trying to mold an image that minimizes the past. The name Tim is becoming only a memory. Comparisons to Halford are discouraged. So are stories of birthday cakes, madrigals and mothers. 'That's not very heavy metal', explained Jane Andrews, Judas Priest's co-ordinating manager. 'We don't want to turn off the fans'. But Judas Priest fans are already fascinated. The legend of Ripper is spreading on the World Wide Web and in magazines like Metal Edge. In a chrome-and-leather universe, one in which metalheads dress and coif to ape their heroes, one of their own has ascended into the heavens."
-
Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times, July 27, 1997

 
Young Owens in his teen years 

     "It was a lot easier for me to go to school and sing than it was to go to do a math problem, really. I sang in school, I sang in choir in high school, I did all that. I was the only one in choir to bring his Judas Priest records in and say, 'Hey we oughta do this song.' I would bring in this nice mellow acoustic song and it would be like falsetto and I'd say, 'Let's see if we could do that.' Back in that time, the boys in choir didn't really sing falsetto. Nowadays they do; they get a lot of the influence from rhythm and blues and they put the falsetto notes in there. But back then, they had their tenors and basses. 'You're not having no boy singing falsetto.' I wish I could have, because I would've wailed!
     "I graduated in '85 - that was a long time ago. Man o' man...''

 
- Ripper Owens, DaBelly, March 2002

At 18, Owens was heard singing the high notes louder than the PA at a local Akron, Ohio club where the band U.S. Metal were performing. The two musicians who discovered him, Dan Johnson and Steve Trent, then formed a band with Owens called Damage, Inc. and they played all the heavy metal standard covers, especially Judas Priest tunes. In 1986, Tim was asked to try out for another local Ohio metal band called Breaker, but Owens opted to remain with Damage, Inc. By 1988, the band changed their name to Brainicide, but they still played Priest covers, and one tune in particular that had become a staple of Tim's - "Victim Of Changes":

     "There's this point in the live version when Halford holds this, 'No, no, noooooooo', and Tim would hold that note infinitely, absolutely as long as he could. Every time, he would stagger around the stage and nearly fall down, deprived of oxygen!"
- Dan Johnson,
New York Times, July 27, 1997

But in 1990, Brainicide changed their style to what has been described as "death metal meets psychotic metal", leaving little room for Tim's distinct vocal abilities, so he simply left and replaced the singer he used to mimic in the band U.S. Metal. Shortly after that, Tim was invited to try out for local band Winters Bain, and he began writing a concept album with the band's guitarist Lou St. Paul. That album, Heart Of A Killer, was picked up by Massacre Records and recorded in Germany. But the album only got distributed in Europe and the band had to come up with a unique strategy to raise their profile - they went out as a Judas Priest tribute band called British Steel and then opened for themselves as Winters Bain!

     "It worked great. We went from getting $50 a show to $1,000. I'd sing 45 minutes of Winters Bane originals, then put on the leather and do two hours of Priest. People would look up and say, `Hey, isn't that the same guy?' "
- Tim Owens,
New York Times, July 27, 1997

British Steel soon came into its own without Winters Bain and Tim continued in the tribute band to pursue his first love - that of imitating the Rob Halford glory days of Judas Priest. But soon the dominating scene of grunge became the style of the day and in 1995, Tim found himself joining a grunge/alternative tribute band called Seattle. In fact, Owens would even find time during and after the JUGULATOR tour to reunite with his local band mates for some good times and memories (some bootleg video footage even exists)...

     "I tried to get one gig a week in with my old outfit Seattle while I was here to pass my time on the weekends. I figured I could go out on the weekend, play a gig, make some money and drink for free, instead of going out and spending a hundred dollars. We have so much fun. We're just all such good friends. It's just a blast. It was one of my bands in the past that I couldn't wait to come back and do it with. I called from Japan and said, 'Hey, why don't you get us some shows. Why don't we do some and make a little cash. That way, I don't have to get into my checking account!"
- Ripper Owens, Ohio Scene, 1998

It was a year after having joined Seattle, that an old, grainy videotape of Tim performing with British Steel at Sherlock's in Erie, Pennsylvania made its way into the hands of Priest drummer Scott Travis, unbeknownst to Tim. Scott, fresh out of Fight, was heading to Wales, England to meet the rest of Priest and prepare to audition vocalists. But once the band viewed the tape, they knew their search was over!

And what of those postered walls of Tim's youth? Well, his walls are still covered in Judas Priest posters and photos, but there's a twist: Owens is in the pictures now!


 
     "What's really cool is that by the time I joined Priest I had a lot of influences. Chris Cornell was a big influence of mine, as was Layne Staley. Ronnie James Dio is a major influence of mine. And Halford was. There were a lot. Those are probably the ones that really got me. There were others like Joey Belladonna from Anthrax, or, I guess, Belladonna now. There were a lot. But the thing that's made it work is my own personality and my own voice. Everything fits with this band. I don't have to act like somebody else or try. When I just act like myself, it just fits with it. They don't have some long-haired, California guy who doesn't fit. That's why it took them so long to pick somebody. I think they finally found someone who is genuine, who is normal, who fits. Like the lady from GQ magazine said, 'Nice guy, he just happens to sing like the devil.' "
- Ripper Owens,
Metal Update, January 23, 2002

     "The guys helped me calm down right away, because they treated me so well from the start. We got along so well, and it made me feel really good - I think that helped me. But I still pinch myself every now and then. When you look on your wall, and you have a nomination for a Grammy on your first record, that's pretty good."
- Ripper Owens, Metal Edge, September, 2002

EARLY BANDS:


Damage, Inc./Brainicide 1985 - 1990


U.S. Metal 1990 - 1991

    
Winters Bane 1991 - 1993


British Steel/Winters Bane 1991 - 1993

   
British Steel 1993 - 1995


Seattle 1995 - 1996, 1998
 
     "When I first started Damage Inc., which eventually became Brainicide - we played a show in Cleveland at Shadows and my parents drove up there. They watched British Steel in Columbus. They watched me this weekend with Seattle. They drove to the Pittsburgh show to see Priest. So, it's not like all of a sudden they started to do it... I was lucky that my parents were always supportive. Everybody knows them from the shows. My mom went to Ramon's, Temple Tavern, Crossroads. I probably had the only parents that went to shows. My mom and dad were the only ones that came out from the start."
- Ripper Owens, Ohio Scene, 1998

A NEW DAY:

Then, rumors abounded when Ripper became friends with Pantera around the time when their singer Phil Anselmo was starting a side project called Down. Many speculated that Ripper was a mere hired-gun in Priest and unhappy with the situation:

     "No, I mean you gotta figure you got a big machine that has a lot of expenses, so no...we all got equal pay, but unfortunately, you get paid from a record label to make an album and every single penny is spent making it. Nobody gets anything. And then you have your attorneys and your accountants and your management...and everything in this machine that you have to pay out. I mean, I got paid decent in Priest, I got paid good in Priest, and there's no doubt about it."
- Tim Owens, FoundryMusic, January 16, 2004

It was rumored that Ripper was going to leave Priest to replace Phil in Pantera, but those rumors proved to be untrue, as Ripper continued his reign with the mighty Priest. Ripper did however jokingly say he'd consider joining Dimebag Darrell's latest project, (which became Damage Plan, who's current vocalist happens to be former Halford guitarist Patrick Lachman):

     "I'd be flattered if he called. If Judas Priest ends, that's when I'd like to hear from Dimebag,"
- Ripper Owens


Ripper with
Dimebag Darrell

Well, the Priest gig did finally end. Ripper Owens had kept Judas Priest going for 6 years, with two studio albums, a Grammy nomination, two double-live albums and a live DVD credited to his name, but the inevitable happened: With Ripper's blessing and encouragement, Rob Halford was called back into the fold to recapture the glory of Priest, celebrating 30 years as an industry staple. But Owens did not have to wait long to make his next career move... Many calls came in, but it would be Jon Schaffer's Iced Earth, not Dimebag's band, whom Owens would be joining! Owens had volunteered to grace the new Iced Earth album The Glorious Burden with his vocals since their vocalist had left the band. And after much decision and speculation, Tim Owens agreed to become the new singer for Iced Earth.


Iced Earth with Tim Owns


© 2003 Maria Picassů

     "Tim was hired to do the vocals for the record only. Two days after we finished, he lost his gig with Priest. Obviously this changes things and maybe he will be the new guy someday in the future, but right now he needs some time to figure out what he's going to do...There will come a time when I will decide to look for a permanent singer in the near future, if Tim can't commit. I hired Tim to do this record knowing that he had the ability to do the parts that I'd written and that was the extent of it. I would love to have Tim as the new frontman in Iced Earth, but he's got to want it or it's no good for anyone involved. He's going through a big change in his life and I will give him some time to figure out what he wants for his future career, but obviously we can't wait forever...Either way, Iced Earth will carry on in the same tradition as always. I feel great and am very, very optimistic for the band's future, no matter who ends up in the vocal position. I will find the right guy and maybe it is Tim. Time will tell. This record has brought about a new beginning for the band and fate will take its course!"
- Jon Schaffer, BW&BK, August 8, 2003

     "...to make it clear, I didn't join the band! I just did the vocals, and I really love the stuff. I really want to put my own stuff together. We shall see."
- Tim Owens, BW&BK, August 8, 2003

     ďWell everyone, it is official. Tim Owens is the new frontman and lead vocalist of Iced Earth and I couldn't be happier!
There is no doubt that fate has played a big part in our lives in these last few months and I truly believe that this is the way it was meant to be. Everything happens for a reason! Tim did an outstanding job on this record. In five very relaxed days, he nailed the parts, and I mean NAILED them! I don't think I've ever laughed as much and had as much fun in the studio before. He is definitely bringing new life into the band and the future looks very bright for us as a team. Tim knows who he is, what he stands for and is very dedicated; and he's funny as hell, all very important traits! One of the greatest things about all of it is that The Glorious Burden is a new beginning. I'm very, very excited to see what Tim and I can do together as a writing team. There is real chemistry between the two of us and I'm 100% confident that Iced Earth's best work is in our future. I feel like I'm 10 years younger and am having more fun than I've ever had before. I see us having a very long and fulfilling career together! In my opinion, nothing we've ever done comes close to The Glorious Burden. It is by far the best album in all ways, writing, performance and spirit. It is now the way it was meant to be! Look for Iced Earth on our "Glorious World Tour" starting in early 2004. I'm so psyched I can hardly wait!! The Revolution Is Closer Than Ever Before!"
- Jon Schaffer, guitarist, Iced Earth Bandboard, August 19, 2003


Tim Owens and Jon Schaffer

     "It did gel. We got along really well. Itís just this chemistry thing that we had. After Priest and I split, I didnít decide to join immediately. I waited about a month or so. I had other offers. I had about 10 or 15 other offers. I had good offers. I had some offers from bands that werenít known, but had a major label and major management. Anybody else would have jumped at that, but I had to think of what was best for now and for the future.
     "You know, some singers have left heavy metal in the past and been able to come back because theyíve been in metal for a long time and they just decided to try something. You can do that, but for me, I donít think Iíve done enough to earn that right to try something else thatís kind of off the beaten path. You know what I mean? Like a nu-metal excursion or somethingÖ the thing is if I did it, would I be able to deal with it tomorrow? What do I love? What can I do now that I can do 10 years from now? Thatís the thing with Iced Earth. I can do that. I could join a band, sell a million copies, be killer, and then the next record sell a hundred thousand, not have another record and never be seen again. Thatís what I didnít want. Iíd rather sell 300,000 copies or more, and do my own thing. Iced Earth is heavy. The whole thing that I went through toÖ I am heavy metal, and I believe itÖ this band is a well-oiled machine that keeps getting bigger.
     "The thing with this is Iím able to do some things that I couldnít do with Priest. Obviously, Priest arenít fans, I mean everybody really knows this, but they arenít big fans of Iron Maiden. Everybody knows that. They like the guys, but you know... I have a tendency to have a high, soaring natural voice. I couldnít really use it. If I sounded too much like Halford, I would be bombarded. Thatís just how I sing. I have a voice that could sound like a Dio, a Halford, Bruce DickinsonÖ all that mixed into one voice. In Priest, I had to watch those things. I had to sing more in character. Now I can do what I want.
     "The thing about it is also, 75-90% of the takes on this record were done on the first take. It was never cut up a lot. That was the big thing. They just let me go and sing. That was a big thing. I loved the records with Priest. I loved Demolition, and I loved Jugulator. I loved it because there were a lot of different characters in the voice, and a lot of different feelings. I donít like to be too stagnant and too much of the same. I like to be versatile. I think Priest let me do that. I like to sing different all the time. This is just another way that people can hear me sing now. Thatís the fun of it. I enjoy those albums. Whatís funny now is Iíve talked to a lot of people who like Demolition now, but didnít like it when it came out. Thatís the funny thing. It was an album that would grow on you. The vocals in Iced EarthÖ the difference is Jon and Glenn are different writers. Jon writes with a lot more passion, a lot more melodic, a lot more vocalized. He writes these amazingly melodies. Glenn writes more in character. Itís fucking killer. He writes these character-like voices, which is a lot of fun. Five days, though, doing the vocals is pretty quick. I would have liked to have spent two weeks. There are some songs that I would have liked to have made better. ďValley ForgeĒ is one of my least favorites. In truth, I would have liked to have stepped up ďRed BaronĒ a bit. Maybe Iím pickier on that because I wrote the lyrics and the melodies. On the other hand, I canít complain. They were still all good to me. When you spend five days on a record, you always think, 'Well maybe, I should have spent six days.' Thereís a lot of people that Iíve played it for, that have said itís the best Iced Earth. Itís pretty cool to hear it."
- Tim Owens, KNAC.com, January 27, 2004

     "Well, I had a great time in Priest. The only difference may be that now I can hop in my car for four and a half hours and actually see Jon. I have a great relationship with him, and I've always had a great relationship with the guys in Judas Priest. I didn't get to write, and that was a downfall. Basically though, the biggest problem for me was we weren't busy enough in Judas Priest.
     "...You had to figure that I was under a contract where I wasn't supposed to do anything else. Even if I was able to, I never knew when Priest was gonna start working again. If I had decided at some point that I wanted to do a solo record, I never knew when Priest was gonna get back together and start working. It was just a hard thing to do. I was fine with it though because it was just such a great time. We were such good friends, and we all got along so well that it never really bothered me until maybe this past year. That's probably when I first started trying to figure out just what in the hell was going on with that, but it never did hurt our friendship."
- Tim Owens, Electric Basement, December 2003

     "Jon has said for the past...I don't know how long... since he saw me in the Jugulator tour, that when he writes music, he writes for someone like me. That kind of voice is what he thinks of when he writes music. He's always said that, so now he's got it...so I think the fans should dig that and like it, because this is what Jon's vision is.
    
"I would never quit Iced Earth, and I never would rejoin Judas Priest. But if Priest were to say, 'Listen, we're gonna do a couple of months tour, and you wanna do a tour with us, just being the guest Ripper here?', then I'd probably do that if it fit in my schedule. But I would never rejoin them permanently."
- Tim Owens, FoundryMusic, January 16, 2004

Iced Earth has since added another Priest-Halford related addition, former Riot and Halford drummer Bobby Jarzombek:

    "The most significant bit of news to report is that Richard Christy will no longer be with the band after the LA show. He has decided to pursue his comedy career by being a permanent fixture on the Howard Stern show. Though Richardís timing on informing the band of this was somewhat less than professional, as he informed us of his intentions in the middle of the tour instead of before it started, we do wish him well and all the best for his future. He feels he will be better suited for the comedy world than the music world based on some recent experiences, and heís probably right, Richard is a very funny and unique guy.
     "Replacing Richard will be Bobby Jarzombek of 'Halford' and 'Riot' notoriety. Bobby is an excellent drummer and we will be rehearsing in Los Angeles before we start the extension of the U.S. dates."
- Jon Schaffer, Iced Earth bandboard, May 17, 2004

Besides joining Iced Earth, Owens also has a new solo project called Beyond Fear that he put together with former Spawn and 13 Faces guitarist John Compix. As of now Beyond Fear consists of:

Ripper Owens (Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Winters Bane): Vocals
John Comprix (Spawn, 13 Faces): Guitar
Dwane Bihary (Missing Skin): Guitar
Dennis Hayes (Winters Bane, Seven Witches): Bass
Eric Elkins (Cryptkicker, All You Fear): Drums

Here are some names that fans had suggested for Ripper's solo project:

R.I.P
Ripper
Screaming Messias
Messias
Decimation
Soul Departed
Beyond Fear
Beyond all fear
Scream
Machine
Rasgon
The Unscene
Alternation
Element One
The Fallen
Brethren
Unbreakable
Banshee!
Conflict

     "When Priest and I split, I had a decision to make of whether to join Iced Earth, do the other offers that were coming in, or do my own thing right at that time. I talked with Jon Schaffer and I took about a month-and-a-half to decide. I just said, 'You know, I could join Iced Earth: It shows off my vocals, I've already done promotion all around the world, it's good publicity and great music; and I can also do my own thing when next year comes.' It made me think I could do everything I wanted to do."
- Ripper Owens, Cleveland Scene, December 17, 2003

     ďIt's very basic verse-chorus-verse stuff with catchy choruses... ďPlaying with The Sickness is a really fun thing to do. Iím really good friends with those guys. But itís going to end for me pretty soon. Iím trying to get things going for myself now and it doesnít look so good that Iím singing covers again.
     "Being in Judas Priest was like my college, and I got to go for free. Now whoever wants me to sing for them, it will be because I sang with Judas Priest and got my degree.Ē
- Ripper Owens, Canton Repository, August 8, 2003

     "You know if I had to describe it actually, It would probably be more of a BLACK SABBATH/Priest-ish, kind of a...It's hard to describe. I'm going in tonight to record an acoustic song, and then I'll probably start... I mean, this is all my demo tape...and I'll probably do the demo tape and then go into the studio and do the drums next week...and I'll get the demo tape done. It is hard to juggle, doing it right now. It's good classic-type metal, and classic type vocals, driven by the choruses, that people can sing with, and it's real basic songs because I wrote all the material. nothing real fancy. I just kind of wrote it, so I don't really know...it's hard to describe your own stuff, I mean, it's my own stuff....and it's weird, because I was never influenced by Sabbath at all. I never listened to 'em all that much, except for with Ronnie James Dio. It's just, to me, I would have to say there might be some guitar riffs that kind of have that or something. It's just, you know...hard to describe."
- Tim Owens, FoundryMusic, January 16, 2004

     "Iím going to do a side project when Iím off. Maybe I can talk to Scott Ian about playing a tune. Itís all shit Iíve written. Iím going to be playing mostly with my friends around here. They donít get to travel around the world and be a rock star, but theyíre good musicians. Iím going to record a demo, get a deal, and do that on the off-time.
     "Iíve been writing these songs for a while. Some of these were actually written for Priest. Thatís what makes it so exciting.           
     "Iím going to have my friends play it, but Iíve played everything on the four-track version I wrote at my house. It was all written by me, and itís cool to do that. Iíve never done it. This will be the first time Iíve written everything. It will be good. It will be basic Heavy Metal, chunky riffs, catchy choruses. That was another thing with Jon. He said, 'You do your own thing. Iíll do Demons and Wizards and you do your own thing.' He wants me to do my own thing - he said thatís how you learn. Itís all good."
- Tim Owens, KNAC.com, January 27, 2004

     "My demo is gonna be either three or four songs! I'm mixing it at Morrisound Studios in Tampa, Florid] right now with producer Jim Morris, then we will shop it to record labels. But it is gonna be a pretty raw demo - I will re-record everything when I get a deal at Morrisound and a local studio in Akron, Ohio. Musically it's like the old Sabbath stuff with Dio, so kinda going between that and heavier metal. Problem is that the newer songs I've written are heavier then the first five songs, but I think that will make for an even cooler CD. A little basic old school and then some Pantera riff stuff... we'll see! To me, this demo is more of a basic heavy metal, not rocket science and a million notes being played. All I want is people to remember and be able to sing it - like the metal I grew up listening to."
- Tim Owens, Blabbermouth, November 23, 2004

Beyond Fear have begun playing a few shows in Ohio and Mexico and are wrapping up their debut album.

GUEST APPEARANCES:

Spawn - Round 2 (1999) - Owens produced this Ohio "groove/core" metal band's second album, which features the MŲtley CrŁe cover "Louder Than Hell"

     "I feel like it was a good time for me to do it, 'cause I've been in the studio quite a bit.
     "Working with Glenn and K.K. in the studio, I did feel comfortable. It's a good learning experience for me also. I felt pretty confident with my ear. It's fun to be able to turn the knobs for a little bit. I think I might try to do some more of that in the future. It's fun to do it with Spawn. They're good guys. They've got a live band. They're tight. They have a lot of good originals."
- Ripper Owens, Ohio Scene, 1998

Kickstart My Heart - A Tribute To Motley CrŁe (2000) - Owens produced and lended backing vocals to the Spawn tribute of the CrŁe's "Louder Than Hell"

Bat Head Soup, A Tribute To Ozzy (2000) - Owens performs "Mr. Crowley" with Yngwie Malmsteen, Tim Bogert, Tommy Aldridge, and Derek Sherinian

Let The Tribute Do The Talking' (Japan)/One Way Street (Europe) (2002) - Owens sings "Round And Round" a tribute to Aerosmith, and is joined by Reb Beach, Tim Bogart, and Eric Singer

Anthrax - Live on the final date of the US 2nd leg Demolition tour February 19, 2002, Palace of Auburn Hills, Michigan - "Caught In A Mosh"

MICHAEL SCHENKER AND HEAVY HITTERS (2005) - Owens sings the Black Sabbath classic "War Pigs" and is joined by Michael Schenker, Mike Inez and Aynsley Dunbar


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Steel & Leather Productions, U.S.A.