SAD WINGS OF DESTINY
"I tend to look upon SAD WINGS OF DESTINY as being our
first proper Judas Priest album."
"l think the album SAD WINGS OF DESTINY was
where we started to figure out what Judas Priest was all about. Or at least
it gave a hint as to where we were headed."
"For some reason, SAD WINGS OF
DESTINY still manages to touch people in a really profound way. I think SAD
WINGS OF DESTINY was like Priest's Sgt. Pepper or our Led Zeppelin II."
Management: David Corke,
Produced by Jeffery Calvert, Max West (aka:
Geraint Hughes), and
Certification: RIAA Gold
November 10, 1989
Art Director: John Pasche - Gull Graphics Group
While a millionaire agent gig didn't come to fruition,
French did handle Judas Priest at this juncture of their career, and part of
his duties to help get the band known was to come up with a captivating
concept for the album cover and title to their sophomore release. Neil also had a
good understanding of Priest's vision for the dramatic and when he presented
his ideas to Gull Records' head David Howells, Howells had a
1975 watercolor painting of a fallen angel in the flames of hell
James Woodroffe to
grace the cover:
Woodroffe was born in 1940 in Halifax, Yorkshire, England. Interestingly, he has a language degree from Leeds University, yet no training in painting nor writing, the two fields he pursued professionally as the creator of TEXT & IMAGES in 1972! After graduating from Leeds University in 1964, Patrick has lived in Cornwall, England ever since.
Patrick's SAD WINGS OF DESTINY painting went on to become one of the all-time masterpiece legends among rock album cover art, and Neil French's award-winning concept actually helped French break into future advertising jobs in England. But the large tax bill Neil ran up while working for Priest brought the Inland Revenue after him, so he fled to the Far East, where his real career as an award-winning ad writer and film director began! Now one of the most well known creative directors in the world, French has worked for ad agencies in Asia, Europe and America and won over 500 international awards for his work!
Art direction for SAD WINGS OF DESTINY was overseen by Gull Records' John Pasche, who had developed the sleeve and logo for the band's ROCKA ROLLA debut. For SAD WINGS OF DESTINY, John gave the band's logo a much needed update more befitting their image. Using an Old English, gothic-style typeset, the logo looked quite similar to an earlier version from 1972, but with a medieval touch (note how the P looks like the helmet of a knight for example) and topped off with a devil's tail. It was a brilliant blend of British majesty and Gothic sinister-ness that illustrated the name of JUDAS PRIEST quite distinctly.
Woodroffe's cover painting also introduced the band's infamous symbol in the form of a pendant hanging from the fallen angel's neck. The symbol would later re-appear on the covers for DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH, PAINKILLER, METAL WORKS, and THE RE-MASTERS series, as well as on several of the band's merchandise items and their 2004 United tour stage set. The origin of the symbol remains a mystery at this point, as even the artist himself has forgotten...
Both Glenn and Rob have referred to the symbol as the "devil's pitchfork", and while the Priest symbol does bear quite a resemblance to a pitchfork, it has officially been called the 'Judas Priest cross' by management, promoters and merchandisers.
Judas Priest are quick to warn that most of the reissues are sub-standard rehashes with nothing new to offer.
Below is a chart of the most noted of the reissue
CDs (Thanks to Chris of the Judas Priest Collector's Page for CD listings and
pictures). All except for the Victor/JVC 20-Bit K2 remaster have background hiss
and feature very similar audio (as they all appear to use the RCA digital
remaster), with variations only in volume and EQ. A Listening Guide is provided
in the chart along with personal recommendations as an aid in finding a match to
your personal preference. After finding the version you want, try searching for
this rare title at the Global Electronic Music Marketplace:
APRIL 1975: Priest appear on TV
With a debut album now under their belt for over a year, Judas Priest are able to get a couple of important breaks in their career. Though the album had done poorly, the band got to appear in April on the Old Grey Whistle Test BBC TV program where they performed the title single "Rocka Rolla" and introduced a two song epic called "Dreamer Deceiver"/"Deceiver".
The OLD GREY WHISTLE TEST videos are currently available on the ELECTRIC EYE DVD 2003 Sony Music Entertainment/Columbia Music Video (UK Cat. # 2021939, US Cat. # CVD 51411)
First major concert at Reading Festival
After this came more dates at the renowned Marquee Club in London which led to the band being invited to appear at the prestigious Reading Festival in August, where Priest made perhaps the biggest impact of their career up to that point.
Hinch leaves, Moore returns
Now that the band were making an impression, it was time to take things to the next level, but that meant cutting out dead weight, so in early September the band released John Hinch for what Glenn Tipton called "musical inadequacies" ("John Hinch couldn't even play the drums, believe you me.") and K.K. claims the reason they even kept John was that he had a van and could drive! Hinch claims it was he who left the band because he had damaged his thumb when he and Glenn got into a fight with some other guys at a club and one of the guys bit into Hinch's thumb. Whatever the case may be, John never joined another band, instead choosing a career in management handling the business affairs of artists such as Jameson Raid, Uli John Roth, and Zeno.
The next month, former drummer Alan Moore returned from his stint with Sundance with whom he had recorded one album, 1974's Rain Steam Speed. After a short three-hour rehearsal, Alan played his first show on October 11 at London's Slough College.
With Priest's Gull Records debut a disappointment (as well as an eye-opening learning experience for the band), it was time to spread their wings and chart their own destiny. 1975 had been a successful year on the live circuit, culminating in an attention-getting appearance at the Reading Festival during the summer. The new songs Priest presented were an exciting departure from the ROCKA ROLLA album, heavier and more dramatic - "light and shade" as they now call it. To stand out from the rest of the rising heavy metal pack, Priest were now adding an element of drama to their songs and crafting what many consider the most definitive work of any heavy metal band to date, yet, ironically, the members of Judas Priest did not want to be thought of as merely a "heavy" band at the time; they had a message and a dramatic presentation to share:
With ROCKA ROLLA, Priest were still coming together as a band (Glenn having only been with the band for a few weeks at the time), thus, their debut reflected their influences (Deep Purple, Black Sabbath...) more than their originality. They were also intimidated by their new label situation, willing to go along with Gull Records' vision and presentation of the band in order to be able to get a record out on the market, but they were not satisfied with the handling and end results of their first album release. And while influences such as Queen would still come through on songs like "Epitaph", the guys had learned from their initiation experience and took charge of how their sophomore album was produced and recorded when they entered Rockfield Studios in November:
As Priest found themselves involved in the recording process, an interesting relationship was formed during the sessions that would play a pivotal role some 25 years later: A young engineer assistant, Chris Tsangarides, was forced to take over for engineer Dave Charles who called in sick one day:
SAD WINGS OF DESTINY turned out a well-received album with a defining classic sound that carries to this day as one of Priest's best works, with several of the tunes inducted as regular staples in the Priest live setlist. The album also received critical acclaim from the media and did much better in sales than the debut effort. Fans began to increase at the shows as many felt Sad Wings Of Destiny was the best heavy metal album since Black Sabbath's first release.
Things seemed to be looking up for the band, and in terms of popularity and stardom, the sky was the limit. But in terms of financial support, it seemed the gutter would be their future as Gull Records refused to come through with any kind of financial support for the band. In fact, the label even left the band on a less-than-shoestring budget in the studio:
But taking up jobs was not an acceptable option (as Glenn once said, "The best advice I never took was 'Get a job' "!), though the members were forced to do so for a short while. Glenn took a gardening job, Ian drove vans, and K.K. took a "job" in a factory:
1. Victim Of
Whiskey woman don't you know that you are
drivin' me insane
Take another look around, you're not goin'
You been foolin' with some hot guy
Once she was wonderful
Now change has come over her body, she doesn't
see me anymore
2. The Ripper
You're in for surprise
I smile when I'm sneaking
You'll soon shake with fear
Any back alley street
I'm a nasty surprise
Asked us if we were happy, we said we didn't
We followed the dreamer through the purple
We felt the sensations drift inside our frames
He said in the cosmos is a single sonic sound
We are lost above
Meteors fly around me
If you want to find us in a hurry
Behold 'tis I the commander
(Tyrant) Capture of humanity
Your very lives are held within my fingers
Mourn for us oppressed in fear
I listen not to sympathy
My legions faithful unto death
Save me, my heart's open wide
Sin after sin I have endured
Frantic mindless zombies
Flashing senseless sabers
Slice to the left, slice to the right
The old man's sitting there, his head bowed
With trembling hands, he wipes a tear
But spare a thought as you pass him by
A lonely grave, and soon forgot
And you...and you...and you.
They smashed through the clouds into the light
of the moon
We gotta get, we gotta get, we gotta get out
of this place
Sky rider, supersonic flyer
The fright of your life, the fright of your
All songs published by Blue Lake Music
TOUR DATES 1975A:
Rob Halford - v, K.K. Downing - g, Glenn Tipton - g, Ian Hill - b, John Hinch - d
SETLIST (Orange titles are from the current album)
From the August 23 Reading Festival show:
Thanks go to Christophe Dassy of the
Metallian website for
providing these tour dates and Anthony Zolota and Michael Liljhammer for additions
Steel & Leather Productions, U.S.A.