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From the American steel horse to the steel mills of Birmingham - the birth of Heavy Metal:

Origin Of The Term Heavy Metal:
In 1964, author William S. Burrow in his book NOVA EXPRESS introduced the characters "The Heavy Metal Kid" and "Heavy Metal People of Uranus", and may have even coined the term in a story written before his 1959 novel NAKED LUNCH, though in both cases, the term had no reference to music. Then in 1968, Steppenwolf released the biker-rock hit "Born To Be Wild", in which the lyrics describe a roaring motorcycle as "heavy metal thunder" (quite appropriate for Judas Priest later on...).  It is unclear whether Dennis Edmonton (aka Mars Bonfire) had ever read Burrough's work before writing the song Steppenwolf would cover and popularize, but again it is clear the term still had no reference to music, though it is the first use of the term in a song. But around that same time, it seems ROLLING STONE magazine critic Lester Bangs is credited with being the first to officially coin the term "Heavy Metal" in reference to a musical genre, with CREEM magazine critic Dave Marsh lending credence.

     "The majority of the clues as to who coined the phrase 'heavy metal' points to [primarily] Lester Bangs and [secondarily] Dave Marsh."
Don Browne, "Origin Of The Term Heavy Metal Music", August 1997

In the mid '60s, free-love, flower-power, corporate pop rock was the sound of the American airwaves and UK hit charts, but hard rock was moving in on the territory. America seems to have the first dibs at the heavy metal title, with the Blue Cheer remake of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" in '68 being the first song believed to be called "heavy metal". And Alice Cooper's Spiders of the mid '60s has been acknowledged later on as possibly being the first heavy metal band ever. But were these true examples of heavy metal, as we know it? Both America and Britain had a musical uprising in the mid '60s fueled by "...heavy drums and bass, virtuosic distorted guitar, and a powerful vocal style that used screams and growls as signs of transgression and transcendence" (Robert Walser, RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL), as well as flashy outfits, elaborate stage and light shows and rebel attitudes that have all been a big part of the genre. But a quick comparison of history shows such bands to be better suited as "hard rock", "acid rock" and "power blues" than "heavy metal". Many of these bands also showed a marked distaste for the "heavy metal" moniker. But in the beginning of 1969, in Birmingham, Britain's second largest city, a doom band appeared on the scene with their experimental brand of shock-rock they dubbed at the time "scary music" (inspired by the observed attraction people had to horror films), that could truly and rightfully be deemed "heavy metal":

Historically, the term "heavy metal" refers to radioactive elements or powerful artillery units. While heavy metal music was not directly named to signify either of these traditions, the bands have always welcomed the associated imagery. Rock critics first began applying the label in the late 1960s, referring primarily to the British bands Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath. These three are considered to have laid the framework for the genre. Deep Purple brought classical influences, Led Zeppelin adapted and applied the African-American blues hook, and Black Sabbath lent an air of dark mysticism to their work. Each stressed the importance of distorted guitar sound and long guitar solos.
- St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, Gale Group, 2002

While other bands had been merely loud and rebellious, it was Tony Iommi's raw guitar tone and spellbinding riffs, Bill Ward's primal drum assault, Geezer Butler's titanic bass support and occult-meets-fantasy lyrics, and John "Ozzy" Osbourne's sinister vocal delivery, that helped Black Sabbath birth the true sound of heavy metal upon the musical landscape with their self-titled album debut in 1970.

And the term was so well-fitting to the "heaviness" of the music as it was to the "metal works" of the dark industrial area from which it came: the West Midlands - known also as the "Black Country", due to all the smoke and soot that covered the place from its many backstreet metal foundries...

Sabbath forged the metal, Priest sharpened the steel

It started many years ago, out of the Black Country
The seed became the embryo, for all on earth to see
- Rob Halford, "Monsters Of Rock", RAM IT DOWN, 1988

Forged in the Black Country
- Rob Halford, "Deal With The Devil", ANGEL OF RETRIBUTION, 2005

     "Sabbath were without a doubt the very first heavy metal band to ever come into existence."
- Rob Halford, NATIVITY IN BLACK liner note, 1994

     “...No doubt, the band that made me desire to play heavy metal would have to be Sabbath. You know, Sabbath came around in [1969], which is the first year Priest was created. I was born in ’52, so I was like 17 or something when I first heard Sabbath. Around that same time, bands like Led Zeppelin, Hendrix and Cream really moved me. The kind of stuff that started to shake me internally, though, was 100% Black Sabbath. There just wasn’t anything like it.”
- Rob Halford, EDGE magazine, May 2003

Black Sabbath had inspired a new genre in rock music, but it would be Judas Priest who would come along shortly thereafter to add the drama, speed and a leather makeover...

SEPTEMBER 1969: The original Judas Priest is formed

In late '60s Birmingham, progressive blues rock was the sound of the day. A lad by the name of John Alan "Al" Atkins was already well known on the Midlands scene, having previously fronted The Bitta Sweet (who opening for such legendary names as Cat Stevens, David Bowie, and even for a band that featured Elton John and Rod Stewart together, as well as playing alongside 'Robert Plant and The Band Of Joy' in 1965!). Other bands Al led were Sugar Stack ('66 - '67), Blue Condition (1967) and The Jug Blues Band (1968). Returning from a failed deal in 1969 with the band Evolution, Al gathered some of his past associates to form a new venture. On bass was long-time friend Brian "Bruno" Stapenhill, who had been by Al's side in each of the former groups Al performed in. Drums were handled by John "Fezza" Partridge, who was previously with Al and Bruno in Sugar Stack, and joining on guitar was John Perry from The Jug Blues Band. This new group of Bromwich lads began rehearsing toward the end of the summer of '69, when only a few days later, John Perry was killed in a suicide-related automobile accident. Shaken, but not deterred, the band vowed to carry on and auditions were held to find a replacement.

Pre-Judas Priest Members 1968
Bruno Stapenhill - b
Al Atkins - v
John Perry - g  - R.I.P.






Judas Priest 1969
Earnest Chataway - g
Bruno Stapenhill - b
John Partridge - d
Alan Atkins - v

A young upstart named Kenneth Downing (who would not go by the name of K.K. until early 1974) had been practicing guitar along to his favorite Jimi Hendrix albums for about two weeks and thought he'd give it a shot, but was turned down due to lack of experience:

     "I'd only played through an amplifier about five or six times. I suppose I was a little ambitious back then."
- K.K. Downing, HEAVY DUTY
official biography, 1984

Another Birmingham lad, 17-year old Earnest Chataway auditioned as well and was given the job. Ernie was a natural musician who played not only guitar but also harmonica and keyboard. Bruno Stapenhill vaguely recalls that Ernie was actually in a band that used the same artist agency as Black Sabbath, and that he sat in with them on harmonica back when they were still called Earth. Having an experienced musician such as Ernie who had connections to Earth, it interested this new lineup when Earth changed their name to Black Sabbath.

Ju'das Priest': an exclamation of exasperation or disgust.

The dictionary may define the term as such, but it was more than a mere curse word alternative to the band! Perhaps their idea was closer to Bob Dylan's idea of the devil in the song which the band got their name from. It was both sinister and contradictory: A Judas is a betrayer thanks to the Judas of the Bible who betrayed Christ. A priest is revered in the church as an advocate to lead man to Christ... Thus Judas Priest would be a "Betrayer-Advocate"... The name instantly drew attention and would go on to both fame and infamy. So here is he story of how the band actually came upon the name:

The quintet were taken by the sinister religious overtones of the name Black Sabbath and wanted something similar that would grab attention:

     "We liked their name and so we searched for something in the same vain. Bruno came up with Judas Priest."
- Al Atkins,
VICTIM OF CHANGES liner note, 1997

Future vocalist Rob Halford would also share how the name represented the band musically:

     "The name JUDAS PRIEST came about I think just in trying to get the definition of listening to what we are musically, which I still think even today exists, which is that we can put across music that is very, very heavy and powerful and sinister in one respect, but also we can lighten up (and I use the word loosely) with the other types of music, such as the 'Beyond The Realms Of Death' or the 'Dreamer Deceiver's, the '(Take These) Chains' off... those mellower sides of the band. So I think the two words intermingle - the Judas and the Priest - the good and the bad, the light and the shade. We're not involved in Satanism. The name is just a name; it's been good to us."
- Rob Halford, 1983

As many bands would do when seeking a name, Bruno had been looking at song titles on the back covers in his record collection when he pulled out Bob Dylan's 1967 John Wesley Harding record and saw "The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest". Bruno proposed Judas Priest to Al, who agreed to the name. As the band began to get around and gain some exposure, Kenny Downing was watching from the wings and kept the name in his memory:

     "There was this old van going down the road with a spray aerosol on the side that said, 'JUDAS PRIEST'. There was actually a little blues group in the area called Judas Priest... I kept seeing the van as I was standing in bus stops around the place. I just knew that I thought it was a great name and I wished that I was in that band..."
- K.K. Downing,
BBC Radio 1, April 5, 1991

This early formation of Judas Priest began writing their own material and in late November they landed a deal with Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate Records, but financial problems caused the label to fold early in the new year. The band continued to struggle on the local club circuit on into June, when Ernie Chataway departed and the rest of the guys agreed to disband over musical differences:

     "We started rehearsing and writing some of our own songs, classing ourselves as a progressive rock band. We also played covers of bands like Spirit and Quick Silver Messenger Service. We advertised for work in a local newspaper, and a guy called Alan Eade from Ace Management came to our rescue. He put some gigs our way and took us into the studios to record some of my songs. We recorded two songs, "Good Time Woman" and "We'll Stay Together" and sent them off to several record companies.
We had interest from Harvest and Immediate Record companies, so we did a live showcase for them at a local venue in Walsall, The George Hotel.
     "Among the audience that night was another singer called Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) who we were introduced to. Immediate Records liked the sound of us and gave us a deal. We signed a three-year contract (our manager gave us a champagne party at his house) and starting putting songs together for the first album.
     "Two months later, the bubble burst when our manager Alan gave us the bad news that the record company had folded. This was a bitter blow for us. Back to the drawing board and back on the road touring.... We carried on touring into 1970, but started to drift apart musically, I wanted to explore the rock side and break away from the bluesy feel the band had developed. So, midway through 1970, we decided to split and go our separate ways."
- Al Atkins, VICTIM OF CHANGES liner note, 1997

     "When Ernie left and I listened to the song 'Paranoid' for the first time, I imagined a similar sound for us."
- Al Atkins, May 1998

Had Al Atkins quit there, the story of Judas Priest would have ended before it ever got started!

NOVEMBER 1970: Judas Priest, round 2

Ken and Ian - the new order of Priest

John Ellis 1970

Al Atkins still wanted to explore the harder side of rock music , so he spent the rest of the year searching for a band of like mind. Then one November night while scouting rehearsal rooms, Al happened upon a trio of schoolmates: bassist  Ian "Skull" Hill, drummer John Ellis, and the blonde guitarist Alan once rejected: Kenny Downing! The teenagers had formed a hard rock/progressive blues trio, but were in need of a singer to complete the lineup. Atkins was just what they were looking for. To hone their skills, they had been rehearsing for the past six months at Holy Joe's, an old Church of England school which had been converted into a rehearsal complex:

     "It was a very famous place, and it would cost about five shillings (40 cents) to rent one of the old schoolrooms for a day. Everyone in the Midlands would use it, because there was nowhere else you could go and rehearse, turn up the volume as loud as you wanted, and blast out."
- K.K. Downing, Heavy Duty
official biography, 1984

     "One night at a local rehearsal room called Holy Joe's in Wednesbury (run by a Vicar called 'Father Husband'), I heard a band I liked the sound of. I put my head 'round the door to see three young head-banging, crazy, long haired guys, amps full up."
- Al Atkins, Victim Of Changes liner note, 1997

     "...I heard this infernal noise caused by a band called Freight. Their guitarist was K.K. Downing and this time I snapped him up!"
- Al Atkins, May 1998

     "We didn’t have a vocalist in those days. We were just quite happy to go to rehearsal rooms and thrash out a few of our favorite songs."
- Ian Hill,
Classic Rock Revisited, January 2002

     "Alan was quite an experienced musician, and apart from being a vocalist he was also quite a good drummer, guitarist, and songwriter. We were over the moon that he was impressed by our playing and so we agreed to have him in the group."
- K.K. Downing, Heavy Duty
official biography, 1984

The lineup now complete, they were undecided about a name. The threesome were indeed proposing 'Freight', but Al didn't care for it, and as Kenny actually still preferred the name of Al's former band (as well as it had already gained a small following), Al asked his former band mates who agreed to allow the Judas Priest moniker to be revived.

     "The name Judas Priest sounded like everything I wanted to be and do. To be recognized on a world-wide basis as 'somebody'..."
- K.K. Downing, HM Photo Book, 1984

     "The one good thing is it keeps coming back 'JUDAS PRIEST' - the name was one of the best things that happened to the band; it was something that was quite easy to remember."
- K.K. Downing, Metal Works video, 1993

This new version of Judas Priest began playing covers around their home area, and once they got a few gigs under their belt, they started adding their own compositions, calling their brand of rock music "goodanloud". David Corke became the band's manager and encouraged them to cut a demo:

     "One of my earliest songs was 'Mind Conception' and our friend and manager David Corke decided it was time to go into the studios and cut a demo. We recorded two songs at Zella Records, 'Holy Is The Man' and 'Mind Conception' in July 1971, but never listened to the advice of sound engineers, recording them live with no overdubs and loads of overspill. Having a sore throat and being stoned out of my head didn’t help either."
- Al Atkins,
Victim Of Changes liner note, 1997

OCTOBER 1971: Ellis leaves, Moore joins briefly, Campbell joins

The sketchy demo did not gain them recognition with the labels, but it did help them obtain better gigs, so most of the members left their jobs in order to keep up with the demands and see Judas Priest succeed. John Ellis was the only member to hold onto his day job, but the increasing number of gigs and conflicting work schedule was placing too much pressure on him, so he left the group in early October:

     "I had a job so I could only gig on weekends. The big jump was asking ourselves, 'Do we quit our jobs or do we keep it as [just] a hobby?' That was the crucial point. Ken and I quit our jobs and John unfortunately didn’t."
- Ian Hill, Classic Rock Revisited, January 2002

Drummer Alan "Skip" Moore temporarily filled the spot vacated by Ellis. Before joining Priest, Alan had partnered with UK folk performer Nick Evans. In fact, Alan was the second guitarist of a duo guitar team with Nick (pre-dating Priest's Downing and Tipton collaboration) before turning to the drums.

Atkins, Moore, Downing, Hill, 1971

Alan "Skip" Moor, 1972








For the remainder of the year, Judas Priest maintained their rigorous tour schedule throughout the Midlands, playing for just 10 pounds per night (their price would later rise to 25 pounds). Five guys living on such tight wages continued to take its toll and at the end of '71, Alan Moore found a better situation with the band Sundance (plus a stint using the last name "Moor" with Pendulum, a  band specially formed to fulfill a 6 month contract with the Moroccan Tourist Board in the summer of '72). Black drummer Christopher Louis (Chris) "Congo" Campbell filled the vacancy in December and by January, the band began to play outside their local area for the first time, including shows as far away as Scotland.

Chris Campbell, K.K. Downing, Ian Hill,
Al Atkins, 1972

More Judas Priest 1972 photos

FALL 1972: Taking the next step

Judas Priest's status steadily began growing on the home front, but to obtain the success needed, the band would have to come to London. As the labels were all located in London, only bands that could showcase in London were given a chance.

Black Sabbath manager and promoter Jim Simpson worked for a Birmingham company called I.M.A. (Iommi Management Agency), an artist agency run by Simpson, Norman Hood and Sabbath's own Tony Iommi. Former Priest bassist Bruno Stapenhill's new band Bullion and future guitarist Glenn Tipton's Flying Hat Band were also among the artist signed to the I.M.A. agency... Judas Priest soon signed on with I.M.A. as a support act to bands such as Status Quo, Thin Lizzy and others.  Dave Corke continued to manage Priest and as they continued to gain in popularity, Simpson began to promote the band heavily in the London market. With Simpson's help, Judas Priest reached the point where they had visited every known club in England, including the Cavern in Liverpool and the legendary Marquee in London. Their set included popular cover tunes as well as several of their own numbers. In fact, it was during that late '72 growing period that some of the Rocka Rolla tracks were written, including "Winter", "Never Satisfied" and a ten minute-plus epic, complete with lyrics, called "Caviar And Meths":

     "Caviar was our first big finale when we played live, but was cut short on the album..."
- Al Atkins, Victim Of Changes liner note, 1997

JANUARY 1973: Heavy Thoughts

On January 19, 1973, Judas Priest renewed a contract with Tony Iommi's now Tramp Entertainments agency, effectively keeping Dave Corke and Norman Hood as the sole management and agency representatives of Judas Priest. Shortly afterward, Atkins wrote "Whiskey Woman", (which would play a significant role for Priest down the road) and a song called "Heavy Thoughts" (an unfinished '73 demo existed, which Al would later record as a solo artist in 1995 and release in 2003). In fact, the members of Judas Priest planned to call their 1973 tour the "Heavy Thoughts Tour", but then the band lost a couple of key members...

     "It was my last tour with Priest as vocalist and we called it The Heavy Thoughts Tour. One of the reasons for my leaving the band was that we still had not got an album to promote. I was doing all the songwriting and was asked by our management I.M.A, run by Norman Hood and Tommy Iommi of Black Sabbath, to write songs for the tour, just in case we did get that elusive record deal (which we didn't). The key song was to be called 'Heavy Thoughts' - but half-finished, it was put to one side.
     "That song never saw the light of day again until 1995 when, going through a box of memorabilia of my old band, I found it. I decided to complete it for Gull Records, ironically, the company that had signed the band for its first two albums, ROCKA ROLLA and SAD WINGS OF DESTINY. Both of these albums featured my songs, including the classic 'Victim Of Changes'. It was this bridge to the past that prompted me to call this album HEAVY THOUGHTS."
- Al Atkins, HEAVY THOUGHTS liner note, 2003

MAY 1973: Atkins and Campbell leave, Halford and Hinch join

Despite the growing success, the lack of a record deal, as well as poor finances, continued to burden Judas Priest, as they barely made enough to cover their tour and living expenses:

     "We'd go off to a gig, hire a van, put our gear in it, pay a couple of roadies, perhaps cover the cost of a P.A., and if we were lucky we'd have enough for fish and chips and a bottle of pop on the way home."
- K.K. Downing, HM Photo Book, 1984

In order to earn some extra money, band members would go to the clubs on their own and introduced themselves as signed artists for Atlantic Records (though, 30 years later, they would actually find themselves signed to Atlantic)! One night Priest were in Liverpool and had no gig scheduled, so they used the approach to set up a gig across the cavern in a Greek tavern for 15 pounds and good quantities of traditional Greek dishes!

     "We'd even sink to the level of getting girlfriends to go into some pub somewhere, and sort of charm a drink out of them, and bring it out to us."
- Ian Hill, VH1 Behind The Music, September 2001

But the grim cash-flow situation had taken its toll on both Al and Chris, and in May, both would leave the group:

     "In so many words, Alan said, 'I've either got to make more money or leave.' We told him that there was no way we could suddenly start earning more, so he quit. I think Campbell said more or less the same thing, so he left too."
- Ian Hill, Heavy Duty official biography, 1984

     "Although there was plenty of work, the bigger we got, the more overheads there were, and we were still without that elusive record deal. Soon the financial situation became a problem - I had a baby daughter to support - so I said goodbye to Priest in 1973 and took a normal 9-to-5 job. Congo also left the band at this time, and our roadie Keith Evans left to join AC/DC as a personal roadie and technician to Angus Young. Everybody thought this was the end of the band, but K.K. and Ian decided to carry on with new members."
 - Al Atkins, Victim Of Changes liner note, 1997

And carry on they did! Though things looked bad for the pair as they found themselves once again without a drummer and a vocalist, a turn of fortune came while Ian was dating a girl by the name of Sue Halford, close friend of Carol Hiles who was Kenny's girlfriend at the time. Sue suggested that her brother Bob (he would go by Robert in '75 and shorten it to Rob after that) might make a good vocalist for Priest.

Halford got his start in music by singing in his high school choir, often standing out as exceptional to the other students. Then in 1966, at age 15, Rob joined his first band, Thark, which included his classroom teacher on guitar! Next, he joined Abraxis before becoming an assistant lighting designer at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton. But Rob soon found himself wanting to be in the spotlight, rather than behind it!

     "When I left school, I did a little bit of amateur dramatics. I worked in a theater as a lighting electrician, but it's always been the draw of the stage. I was earning quite a good amount of money at the time for some one my age, so the decision to go into music professionally was a main one. My parents thought it was very silly, purely from an economic point of view..."
- Rob Halford, Sounds, February 11, 1978

Rob returned to the stage via a short and forgotten stint in a local progressive blues outfit called Athens Wood, which included Mike Cain, Barry Shearu and Phil Butler. Not much is mentioned or remembered about the band, but promotional material was sent through Norman Hood's artist agency:

Athens Wood, circa 1971

     "I'm afraid I know very little about Athens Wood, other than they were a local Birmingham outfit who sent information to the agency."
- Norman Hood, 2003

While London was the hotbed of the English music scene, a new wave of British musicians was on the rise in the Midlands:

     "We'd all go to the Mother's club in Erdington. I saw Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and a ton of other bands there. That was really where you got your inspiration. The feeling was, why should it all just happen in London?"
- Rob Halford, Telegraph, March 19, 2005

As far as Rob's own memory goes, the bands he was in were a building progression leading up to the heavier Judas Priest:

     "The first band I was in was called Thark, T-H-A-R-K - don't ask me where the name come from - and then there was a group called Abraxis, and then there was a group called - this is the best one - Lord Lucifer! It was great - I had an old Francis Barnett motorcycle and I painted 'Lord Lucifer' on the petrol tank, you know with flames and things. I used to pull up behind people and mothers would pull their children down from the car and go, 'Don't look at that, don't look at that!' Those are some of the names I remember - and Hiroshima - that was the one that really got me into the direction of Priest..."
- Rob Halford, BBC Radio 1, April 5, 1991

     "I got together with Lord Lucifer and after that came Hiroshima. That's when I first really began to get a taste for rock. That lasted for about a year and then I joined Priest."
- Rob Halford, Heavy Duty official biography by Steve Gett, 1984

Featuring Halford on vocals and harmonica, Paul Watts on guitar, Ian Charles on bass, and John Hinch on drums, Hiroshima was a local hard rock band making the rounds and sharing the '72/'73 Midlands club circuit with Priest for the better part of a year. After Ian Charles was later released, Halford took over his bass duties(!) and a few demo tapes were possibly recorded, but the group never did take off.

Thark, 1966
Young Rob with school teacher on guitar

Hiroshima, 1973.
Looks like Rob stole his teacher's tank top!

During this time, Ian Hill was dating Rob's sister Sue, who suggested to Ian that her brother might be the perfect candidate to fill the open vocal spot. She then had to convince her brother to follow through. Rob had actually seen the band once before, so he had an idea of how their former vocalist fit in, but it was the fiery Hendrix-influenced Ken Downing that captivated Rob's interest in the band:

     "Did I see Al work? I must have because the first time I ever saw Judas Priest was at the Birmingham College Of Food And Art. Food and art, go figure... I snuck in, I was in the balcony, and I watched them play - it could have been songs like 'Never Satisfied' and 'Victim Of Changes' ('Whiskey Woman' at the time) - and all I remember was Ken, and to some extent, Ian. But Ken mesmerized me... That's not to dismiss Al. Everybody's as important as everybody else. Just because you get the spotlight a bit more than the others and are called 'The Metal God', it doesn't mean anything in the big picture of what you're trying to achieve."
- Rob Halford, Metal Edge, May 2005

Rob brought John Hinch, his drummer from Hiroshima into the picture as well and off they went to Kenny and Ian's apartment. The apartment was crowded that day, so Rob and John were brought to the bedroom to wait for Kenny and Ian. As Rob sat listening to the radio, Kenny overheard him singing harmonies to a musical program, and the rest is history in the making:

     "One night, Sue told me the job was up for grabs and asked if I might be interested. So I went over to K.K. and Ian's place, which was an apartment just outside Birmingham, and I sat in the bedroom with them for a couple of hours, talking about music and different things. Since they were also checking out drummers, I suggested bringing in John Hinch, who had been in my previous band Hiroshima. All four of us then went up to Holy Joe's for an all-night rehearsal and everything just seemed to click. They liked my voice and John's drumming and told us that the jobs were ours if we wanted them. Funnily enough, although he didn't tell me until later, one of the reasons K.K. had wanted to try me out in the band was because when we'd first met I started singing along to the radio doing harmonies, which he'd never heard before."
- Rob Halford, Heavy Duty
official biography, 1984

     "That's right. I heard him sing along to a Doris Day record, of all things, and thought it was pretty impressive. Plus I found out he could play mouth organ, which was quite fashionable for rock bands in those days."
- K.K. Downing, Heavy Duty
official biography, 1984

     "Ken is prone to exaggerate. God, Doris bloody Day. Why couldn't it have been Pavarotti? For God's sake, it's a story straight out of Cecil B. DeMille. I'll get you, Ken, you bastard!"
- Rob Halford, Circus, September 30, 1984

     "So my acceptance into the group took place in the bedroom of the apartment of K. K. and Ian. No, it wasn't a casting couch session. It was just that so many people were around that day that the bedroom was the quietest place in the flat. Well it all began for me from that point."
- Rob Halford, Point Of Entry tourbook, 1981

     "One day, me and Rob were over just tinkering around and in walked Ian Hill and mentioned to us that the singer and the drummer had left the band and they wanted replacements, and would we be interested in going to audition for Judas Priest?  Rob and I discussed the matter and felt that we didn't really want to be associated with this band, and if we did, we'd certainly change the name. Anyway, we ended up at the rehearsal and went through all their songs. Because the band had got a tour already lined up as support to a band called Budgie, Rob and I felt, 'Well what have we got to lose? If it's gonna put us out there, in time we're sure we can take this band over and it will become our band, or on the other hand, if it doesn't suit, fine, we'll carry on.' Off we went on tour after a few rehearsals and after the end of the tour, we'd sort of 'molded' into the Judas Priest situation very nicely - Rob had successfully changed it..."
- John Hinch, Insight Series interview, 1995

     "Well, the story goes that Ian was dating my sister at the time. Plus, we all had the same musical circle of friends - we were buddies with Black Sabbath, so everybody knew everybody else. l was already in a band called Hiroshima, but I went one night with my drummer to jam with Ian and Ken at a place called Smokey Joe's, I think. It all started to fall into place after that."
- Rob Halford, Guitar World, September 2004

Though John claims Rob successfully changed Judas Priest for the better, it was really a team effort, as Rob had become a key writing partner with Ken, and the band as a whole began defining their sound and role in the hard rock genre by straying from the blues-rock elements that were so common at the time:

     "When I joined we fell into a more traditional hard rock approach - that is, until we found our own way. It takes a while to find out who you are - as a group, l mean, not as an individual; that takes a lifetime..."
- Rob Halford, Guitar World, September 2004

     "K.K., Ian and I would jam at their apartment whenever we got the chance. We used to knock up tons of different ideas and make loads of cassettes. It was interesting because I think we were probably feeling our way as to how and what exactly Priest should be."
- Rob Halford, Heavy Duty official biography, 1984

     "We were pretty adventurous and we tried to steer away from basic twelve-bar stuff, because we were more into progressive rock. On the rare occasions that we did anything slightly close to a twelve-bar, we'd try and alter it dramatically by putting in some unusual changes. Most of the other bands around were sticking to the same basic stuff."
- K.K. Downing, Heavy Duty
official biography, 1984

Judas Priest 1973 L-R: K.K. Downing, Bob Halford,
John Hinch, Ian Hill

The new abilities afforded by Rob's vocal prowess and Kenny's increasing talents and vision to expand beyond the norm led Kenny to write his first number - and it was to be a gem in the rough: "Run Of The Mill" was a dark gothic number that revealed a lot of Black Sabbath influence, yet also managed to have a stamp all its own that cause many fans of the early days to still hail it a top favorite from the debut album! Al Atkins' last work before leaving the band, "Whiskey Woman", was proving to be a successful show opener and Rob also contributed a number he wrote while in his former Hiroshima, the atmospheric "Red Light Lady". A demo was soon cut at London's Sarm Studios in 1973 that reports say also contained a track called "Ladies", though no other details of the song are available (this was probably "Red Light Lady", under a shortened title).

A reel-to-reel tape containing "Run Of The Mill" and "Whiskey Woman" recently turned up in the possession of former band agent Norman Hood. Al Atkins confirms that this recording features Rob Halford on vocals and that "Run Of The Mill" is the first song K.K. ever wrote. An interesting side-note: Basing Studios, used on the recording of Killing Machine, was later changed to the now famous Sarm West Studio and Sarm Studios, where the Priest demo was made, then became Sarm East Studio.

Manager Dave Corke shopped the demo around and it caught the attention of a small UK label called Gull Records, headed by label President David Howells:

David Howells 1990

The Gull Records logo

David Howells had been in the record industry in one way or another since 1956, and had even been an executive in A&R for CBS and MCA Records during the mid '60s and early '70s. Howells was heavily involved with record sleeve designs as well, and in the early '70s he teamed up with graphics designer John Pasche to form Gull Graphics, which produced album covers for many of the era's biggest names. That venture brought in Derek Everett and Monty Babson, to form Gull Records and Songs (a record and publishing company subsidiary of Decca Records), which Howells ran from 1974 to 1982.

With Gull Records struggling and a top UK hit-making team known as Stock, Aitken and Waterman (better known as S/A/W, the team would play a role with Judas Priest in 1988) knocking at the door, David was appointed Managing Director of Pete Waterman's PWL Records in 1982 while continuing to license the Gull Records recordings to subsidiaries through his Gull Entertainments company. In 1994, David left PWL to return to his own music publishing ventures again, with his company Darah Music, managing the likes of top hit producer Steve Mac, among others.

In the early part of '74, while Priest were playing a series of British club dates, Corke invited Howells and his Gull Records associates to come see the band perform on the 11th of February at the London Marquee, as openers for the popular hard rock act Budgie. At the end of the night, Priest joined their fellow Birmingham friends onstage for a rousing encore of "Running From My Soul" that had the place going wild:

     "Dave Corke, if I'm right, was already in contact (via Budgie) with Gull Records and got Dave Howells to come and see us at a gig in London..."
- John Hinch, Insight Series interview, 1995

     "Gull had been down to see us at the Marquee club in London and although they probably didn't like our music, I think they were interested because of the tremendous reaction we got from the audience."
- K.K. Downing, Heavy Duty official biography, 1984

APRIL 1974: Priest sign with Gull Records; Tipton joins

After their London showcase for Gull Records, Judas Priest traveled abroad for the first time, touring in Germany and Holland through the beginning of March, then returning for two more weeks of British shows. At the end of March, the band left for a run in Norway and Denmark, where Kenny received his now-famous nick name of "K.K.":

     "Kenneth Downing Jr. is my real name. A girl in Denmark couldn't pronounce it, so she called me 'K.K.' and it stuck."
- K.K. Downing, Rockline magazine, 1984

It was also while touring Scandinavian that Priest received news about Gull Records wanting to sign them. On April 16, the band arrived in London to sign the contracts and thus begin their long-sought professional recording career...

At this point in time, Judas Priest were still a four-piece, one-guitar band. But David Howells wanted something different than the standard rock quartet that was so common in the day; he more-or-less insisted that an additional instrument be added to the sound. And while the band members were intrigued with the idea, they also had their apprehensions:

     "We thought it was just another mouth to feed and that was pretty tough at the time."
- K.K. Downing, Heavy Duty official biography, 1984

Howells proposed several ideas, including adding a horn player(!), but Ian Hill shares that after the band played a song for the label, it was clear that a second guitar would be the perfect fit. John Hinch recalls that David Howells and producer Rodger Bain came up with the idea for making the additional instrument a guitar, and Downing supported the decision, agreeing that a two-guitar approach would be best for the band as well:

     "We played them a song, I forget which one it was, and somebody says, ‘That just begs for two guitarists'."
- Ian Hill, Classic Rock Revisited, July 1999

     "I guess it came about, we were a four-piece, and we secured a record deal with a small company called Gull Records, who at the time didn't have many acts... They said, 'Well hang on a minute, we've just had Led Zeppelin, Free, and Black Sabbath, all with the same [type of] line-up. How about you guys add a keyboard player?' And we went, 'Nope!'. 'Sax player?' 'Definitely not!'. 'Well, you know, something else to change the line-up'. And I guess I did actually think about a second guitar player, because I was quite a fan at the time of a band called Wishbone Ash, and I quite liked obviously a lot of the harmony stuff that they did. So it seemed like a good, interesting idea to have a heavy rock band with two guitars. Also, that could be a really good idea because I was always quite conscious of the fact when I played lead solos, the sound on the stage got a bit empty. So I thought that would be pretty good."
K.K. Downing, BBC Radio, 6 Music, August 3, 2002

     "When we first started playing, we were a four-piece band. I was a big fan of Wishbone Ash, and I liked the idea of two flash guitar players trading licks back and forth."
-K.K. Downing, Guitar World, September 2004

Perhaps Rodger Bain played the biggest hand in the decision for a second guitar: Bain had been the staff producer at British label Vertigo Records, where he produced Black Sabbath's first three albums on a shoestring budget and minimal equipment (he recorded Sabbath's debut on a 4-track deck in only 16 hours!), and thus, more by accident than technical prowess, helped shape Sabbath's heavy, evil sound - most notably, Tony Iommi's raw guitar tone. But around the time that Gull Records signed Judas Priest, Vertigo Records had also signed another group called The Flying Hat Band, and were in the process of finishing their debut album. Featuring Glenn Tipton on lead guitar and vocals, The Flying Hat Band evolved from the group Shave And Dry (where Glenn handled guitar and keyboard duties, as Glenn has actual training in piano). Shave And Dry briefly changed their name to Merlin before settling on The Flying Hat Band, and after several lineup changes, Glenn took over the lead vocal duties and made the band into a power trio. But after laying down some tracks for Vertigo Records, the project got shelved for sounding too similar to label mates Black Sabbath. Management and financial struggles soon brought about the band's demise and Glenn was ready to make his next move...

Four of the scrapped Vertigo tracks were unofficially released in 1992 by German re-issue label SPM International and English label Worldwide Records on a split CD, sharing tracks with a 1972 recording by Antrobus. This out-of-print CD is titled Buried Together. Two more untitled Flying Hat Band demo tracks also exist as bootlegs, while others remain locked away.

     "I had the original album master for Glenn Tipton's unreleased, pre-Priest, Flying Hat Band album, until I gave it to him recently. [These songs] were very, very heavy - not what you would expect from the band's name. Actually, it's a very depressing listen - heavier than early Sabbath in places. The history of rock would have been a bit different if the Vertigo label had released that album pre-Rocka Rolla. Would Glenn have even joined Priest then?"
Garry Sharpe-Young, Rock Detector, 2002

L-R: Glenn Tipton - g, Steve Palmer - d, Mars Cowling -b

Live at 'Enry's Blues House, Birmingham

     "I was actually in a band called The Flying Hat Band, and we toured Europe opening shows for Deep Purple around 1974, when Glenn Hughes was in the band anyway... The Flying Hat Band was a rock n roll band with me, Carl Palmer's brother Steve Palmer, and an old friend of mine called Mars Cowley, who used to play with Pat Travers. A three-piece band, and I was the single guitarist, which I can never quite believe, and we toured with Deep Purple. It was a scary experience at the time. Shortly after that, we got management problems over in England, and Judas Priest asked me to join. And that was before the first Judas Priest album..."
- Glenn Tipton, Atlantis Online, May 7, 1986

With Rodger Bain and Glenn Tipton both coming out of Vertigo Records, it would seem a good bet that Rodger probably offered the name of Glenn Tipton for the additional guitar spot, though K.K. and the rest of Priest were already aware of Glenn, as The Flying Hat Band was a respected rival on the Midlands club scene and both bands were being handled by Tony Iommi's agency. Once the decision was made to open a second guitar spot, K.K. approached Tipton in a local music shop and asked him to join:

     "We were at a place called What’s Music in Birmingham and Glenn walked in, and out of the blue, Ken went and asked him if he wanted to join the band. We were just standing there agog. After meeting us and having a couple of pints, he said, 'Yes'."
- Ian Hill, Classic Rock Revisited, January 2002

"I thought, 'I'll join Priest for a bit until I can do something else'."
- Glenn Tipton, Revolver, September 2003

Since there was nothing else going on at the time, Glenn felt it would just be a temporary move to help Judas Priest with their recording, after which, he figured to move on to other opportunities. But once he teamed up with K.K., it didn't take more than an instant for Glenn to recognize the potential that combining their differing styles (K.K.'s thinner Strat tone and whammy bar madness vs. Glenn's fatter, blues-flavored melodic runs) and reinforced rhythms had to offer. They would stay together and go on to forge what has been well-dubbed the "twin-axe attack"!

     "We were definitely one of the first heavy metal bands to have two lead guitarists. A lot of bands seem to have copied the idea since then, but in those days it was quite innovative."
- K.K. Downing, Heavy Duty official biography, 1984

     "Every time I did a guitar solo, it sounded empty, so it made sense to recruit another guitarist to fill in the rhythm. But when Glenn joined the band, he was obviously a competent lead and rhythm player, so it was just automatic that he would take some solos. We would trade off solos and we also had the facility to harmonize with each other...it was just second nature for us."
- K.K. Downing, Hard Radio Shockwaves, 1998

     "The band asked me to join before the first album, so we thought, 'Well, we've got two guitar players - how can we expand on that and give ourselves another dimension?' The light and shade was something we experimented with very successfully. It makes a heavy number really heavy if you come in from a light passage. In those light passages we really experimented with melodies, one guitar complimenting the other. Not necessarily harmonies, but cross melodies. We can pat ourselves on the back and say we really knew what we were doing, but we didn't really - we just kicked stuff around until it sounded right.
     "We messed around with harmony lead sections and, funnily enough, harmony chords, and they became the norm. But when we're really laying it down, we don't mess with too many frills. When it gets gritty, that's when it should get gritty."
- Glenn Tipton, Guitar One, November 2003

     "The one thing I ended up being able to play really well were chords. Since then, I've had a few classical lessons and some piano lessons, but I'll never be a melodic guitarist. I'm more into aggression than runs and scales, although I could play melodic guitar if I wanted to".
- K.K. Downing, Point Of Entry tourbook, 1981

     "How much we drew from each other, I don't really know, but we put something together that we thought was a pretty good blend. Glenn was predominantly more blues-oriented, where I was sort of progressive and a bit wild."
- K.K. Downing, Revolver, September 2003

     "Glenn and I are both very much of the same temperament. We've always been aware that, 'If you try and overtake me or try and overstep the mark a little bit, I'm gonna come down on you.' And that's the way it's always been with us."
- K.K. Downing, Rockline magazine, 1984

Priest were now ready for the big-leagues. A then unknown Rod Smallwood (who would go on to form Sanctuary Group and manage Iron Maiden and Rob Halford) was working for London's MAM Agency, and Judas Priest was one of the acts Rod signed before he moved on...

In 1972 Rod joined the London-based MAM Agency where he worked for 18 months on The Kinks, Queen and Mott The Hoople and was responsible for signing Judas Priest, Be-Bop Deluxe, Golden Earring and Cockney Rebel. Heavily involved from the beginning with Rebel, he left in mid-1974 to co-manage them and subsequently had a No. 1 single with 'Come Up And See Me (Make Me Smile)'.
- Sanctuary Group

     "I went from 12 a week to 35 a week - no contest! Suddenly I thought I was loaded! But at least l could buy a round!"
- Rod Smallwood, IronMaiden.com, August 26, 1999

     "Rod spent 18 months working at MAM, 'learning the business from the ground up', and signing Judas Priest..."
- Mick Wall
, IronMaiden.com, August 26, 1999

With Glenn now on board, a new deal and a new booking agency, Priest play a series of UK gigs to give the guitarist a chance to work with the band before they enter the studio to begin recording...

     "I'm very proud of the fact that we carved our own niche in metal and rock history, and people have been inspired by us".
- Glenn Tipton, Guitar One, November 2003


 Al Atkins - v, Ernie Chataway - g, Bruno Stapenhill - b, John Partridge - d
November 25

George Hotel



Their very first gig, a band competition as a showcase for Harvest and Immediate Records; Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant is in attendance

Bands who competed, including Judas Priest


Al Atkins - v, K.K. Downing - g, Ian Hill - b, John Ellis/Alan Moore/Chris Campbell - d
? Masonic Hall in Aberwelle Street Walsall England Support to Black Sabbath

     "I remember the show well - it was before electricity and when Al Atkins was singing in the band. It was the first and only time we shared a stage with Sabbath. And we said never, ever again... Just kidding, Tony."
- K.K. Downing, Classic Rock, June 25, 2004


Al Atkins - v, K.K. Downing - g, Ian Hill - b, John Ellis/Alan Moore/Chris Campbell - d
? Cavern Club Liverpool England Support to Graphite
? Cleopatra's Derby England  
March 6 St John's Hall Essington England K.K. and Ian's first Judas Priest gig
     "There were probably 60 or 70 people there, but I do remember seeing a lot of hot pants and knee high boots! We got paid six pounds (nine dollars) and went down pretty well considering it was our first gig together."
- K.K. Downing, Heavy Duty official biography, 1984
March 8 Club Westborne Edgbaston England  
March 9 Shrewsbury Rugby Club Northampton England  
March 11 Old Swinford Hospital School Stourbridge England  
March 13 Moor Farm Inn Nottingham England  
March 15 Hereford Town Hall Burton England  
March 16 Three Mile Oak West Bromwich England  
April 7 Burntwood Bath England  
April 16 Three Mile Oak West Bromwich England  
May 1 JB's Club, Dudley Tech Dudley England  
May 8 Walsall Technical Walsall England  
May 21 The Plaza Old Hill England  
June 1 Henry's Blues House Birmingham England  
June 18 Coppertops Worcester England  
June 19 Three Mile Oak West Bromwich England  
June 25 Plaza Old Hill England  
June 30 The Lafayette Club   England  
July 2 Three Mile Oak West Bromwich England  
July 5 Central Hall   England  
July 10 JB's Club, Dudley Tech Dudley England Support to Trapeze and White Rabbit
July 12 Gun Inn London England  
     "Our first London gig was absolutely terrible. It was a shed at the back of a pub and we were all well disillusioned. Coming from the Midlands, we obviously thought that getting to play in London would be the first stepping stone to success, but once we got there we realized straight away that wasn't the case."
- K.K. Downing, Heavy Duty official biography, 1984
July 30 The Plaza Old Hill England  
August 8 Clouds Derby England  
August 14 The Village Coventry England  

Al Atkins' contract
September 2 Kinetic Circus Birmingham England  
September 16     England Support to Supertramp
September 17 Coppertops Worcester England  
October 3 Kinetic   England  
October 4 Borough Hall Stafford England  
October 6 Derbyshire Yeoman England Support to Slade and White Rabbit; John Ellis' Last Gig
October 13 Yew Tree Centre   England Alan Moore's First Gig
October 16 Community Center Newport England  
October 17   Bristol England  
October 21 Le Cafe Des Artist London England  
October 27 Rose & Crown London England  
October 29 Zeppelin Club Merton England  
November 5 The Temple Club London England  

Al Atkins' contract
November 5 On The Ivy Wales England  
November 12 Three Mile Oak West Bromwich England Alan Moore's last gig?
November 29   Belfry England Cancelled
December 3 Bromsgrove College Bromsgrove England  
December 5 Catacombs Wolverhampton England  
December 17 Distractions at The Bear Burntwood England Chris Campbell's first gig?

December 24 Henry's Blues House Birmingham England Support to Bronco

December 28 Stoneground Manchester England  


Al Atkins - v, K.K. Downing - g, Ian Hill - b, Chris "Congo" Campbell - d

SETLIST (Orange titles are from the current album)

Spanish Castle Magic - A Jimi Hendrix cover
Holy Is The Man - Al Atkins original never released by Judas Priest
Voodoo Rag - A cover tune?
Black Sheep Of The Family - A Quartermass cover
Never Satisfied
Whiskey Woman - Al Atkins original that became Victim Of Changes
Joey - A cover tune?
Mind Conception - Al Atkins original never released by Judas Priest
Caviar And Meths - Long version with lyrics
? Cavern Club Liverpool England Support to Graphite
? Zeplin King England
? Catacombs Wolverhampton England
? Cafe Des Artistes London England
? Pheasantry Chelsea England
? Speakeasy London
? Spectrum Stockport
? Pedugh Harrow
? Fantasia Northampton England
January 1 Hucknall Miners Welfare Club (MWC) Nottinghamshire England  
January 2 Golden Diamond Pub Sutton In Ashfield Nottinghamshire England  
January 3 Youth Wing Penarth Scotland  
January 4 Bristol Legion Cwmbach Scotland  
January 6 Youth Centre Kincardine Scotland  
January 13 Pavilion Cheltenham Scotland  
February 5 Underground Club Worcester England  
February 6 Magnet Club West Bromwich England  
February 9 Yew Tree Centre   England  
February 17 Henry's Blues House Birmingham England  
February 18 2 J's Club Horn Hotel Braintree Essex England Support to Freedom

Al Atkins' contract
February 26 The Greyhound Club London England

Al Atkins' contract
February 28 Quarthaus Chester England  
March 4 JB's Club, Dudley Tech Dudley England  
March 9 Samantha's Blues Club Leeks England  
March 11 Manchester Center Manchester England  
March 12 Bangor University Birmingham England
March 13 City University Northampton England Support to ACE
March 24 Glen Ballroom Llanelli England Support to Wild Angels
March 28 City Rock Northampton England Support to Burnt Oak
April 12 Dix Club Wolverhampton England  
April 28 Fag Club Wallgate England Judas Priest were called "fags" for having played this club of the same name...and this was before Rob was even in the band!

Al Atkins' contract
June 9 Swansea College Of Education Swansea England
June 13
June 14
Ceda Club Birmingham England Support to Dr. Ross

June 17 Laney Ballroom Wales England  
June 20 Cleopatra's Derby England  
June 21 The Rack Lion Northampton England  
July 11 JB's Club, Dudley Tech Dudley England  
July 12 Yew Tree Centre   England  
July 13 Farafe Hotel   England  
July 15 Watsgrave Hotel Coventry England  
August 1 Henry's Blues House Birmingham England  
August 4 JB's Club, Dudley Tech Dudley England  
August 20 Moor Farm Inn Nottingham England  
August 27   Nottingham England  
August 31 Mandy's Coventry England  
September 7 Town Hall West Bromvich England Support to Gary Moore
September 8 Rough & Harrow Nottingham England  
September 15 The British Legion Club   England  
September 17 Moor Farm Inn Nottingham England  
September 24 Kinetic Circus Birmingham England  
September 28 The Bobaloo Club Liverpool England
September 29 The Fighting Cocks Mosely England
September 30 Country Rock Northampton England Support to Curved Air and ALF
October 1 Angel Underground Stafford England
October 2 King's Head Stafford England
October 4 Borough Hall Stafford England Support to Strife and Thin Lizzy

     "I remember that one night we were sleeping in our van somewhere on the M5 motorway...when suddenly Thin Lizzy appeared with their six-wheel truck. I remember that Phil Lynott suffered from the flu and Ian had a terrible headache. The whole situation was horrible and we had no money to buy medicine. Our food was eggs, beans, potatoes and coffee. Now that I think about it again, it was really miserable. We (bands) were all equal at the time, we helped each other. When somebody's van broke down, we gave them ours, and the other way 'round, of course. We could even sleep at their homes when we played somewhere near. We had shared Budgie's house many times."
- K.K. Downing, Metal Hammer, June 1996

     "When I first became a fan of Thin Lizzy, they only had the one guitar player, Eric Bell. They were obviously a great band, but their two-guitar thing didn't really influence us. We had two guitars before we even had an album and were always a heavier band…
     "But I can remember we'd be going down the motorway in one direction and they'd be going the other sometimes. Back when we used to sleep in the van, I remember one night we both did a gig somewhere, we were on what we call the motorway services - you'd call them truck stops - and I remember one time we parked along side each other and Phil Lynott had a really bad toothache and he's like screamin' and moanin' in the night and keeping everybody awake. We eventually had to move the van to the other side of the car park!"

- K.K. Downing, BayInsider, July 2004

October 5 Marquee London England Support to Mahatma Kane Jeeves
October 6? The County Northampton England  
October 6 The Speakeasy London England  
October 7 Plough & Apron Nottingham England  
October 8 Spectrum Stockport England  
October 9 Hotel Workington England  
October 10? Angel Underground West Bromwich England Support to Gary Moore
October 10   Birmingham England  
October 13? Cavern Club Liverpool England  
October 13 Pyramid Liverpool England  
October 14 Uniforum Bradworth England  
October 21 Cavern Club Liverpool England  
October 23 Quarthaus Chester England  
October 27 Fag Club Wigan England  
October 29
October 30
Brumling Budgie Club London England  
November 3 The Penthouse Bridlington England  
November 5 The Temple West Bromwich England Support to Danta
November 13 The Top Rank Duncaster England  
December 14 Fantasia Northampton England  
December 16 The Bout Nottingham England  
December 17     England  
December 21 Wellington Arms   England  
December 26 Henry's Blues House Birmingham England  


Rob Halford - v, K.K. Downing - g, Ian Hill - b, John Hinch - d

     "Priest had Al Atkins singing back then. They did a lot of gigs with us and they had this great drummer, a black guy called Chris Campbell. Their manager Dave Corke would always buy my clothes from me for some odd reason. I would walk into the agency office with a pair of jeans and a denim jacket and Dave would say, 'How much do you want for those?' So I'd sell them and walk out virtually naked."
- Frank Hall (drummer for Necromandus), Rockdetector: Ozzy Osbourne, 2002
April 12 Dix Club Wolverhampton England  

April 15 Hippodrome Birmingham England Support to Family







July and August, support to Budgie on their "Never Turn Your Back On A Friend" UK tour

July 17 Town Hall Bolton England  
July 18 Town Hall Castleford England  
July 19 Houldsworth Hall Manchester England  
July 20 St. Georges Hall Liverpool England  
July 21 Arts Cetre Huddersfield England  
July 22 Memorial Hall Criccigth England  
July 23 Memorial Hall Northwhich England  
July 24 Borough Hall Stafford England  
July 26 Drill Hall Lincoln England  
July 27 City Hall Hull England  
July 28 Alexandra Palace London England London Music Festival with Nazareth and others
July 29 Albany Hotel Nottingham England  
July 29 Memorial Hall Barry Wales  
July 30 Boobs Of Tiffany's Merthyr Wales  
July 31 Locarno Coventry England  
August 1 Pavilion Hemel Hempstead England  
August 2 Memorial Hall Barry Wales  
August 3 Guildhall Plymouth England  
August 4 City Hall Truro England  
August 11 Town Park Harlow England  
August ?? Outlook Doncaster England  
August ?? Top Deck Redcar England  
August 17 Global Village London England  
August ?? Town Hall Gainsborough England  
August ?? Top Hat Spennymoor England  
August 26 Kendal Festival Westmorland England  
September 6 Town Hall Birmingham England  


Rob Halford - v, K.K. Downing - g, Glenn Tipton - g, Ian Hill - b, John Hinch - d)
Series of British dates in January through early February as support to Budgie
January 19 City Hall Newcastle-upon-Tyne England  
February 11 Marquee London England Showcase for Gull Records' David Howells;
Budgie, joins them for an encore
of "Running From My Soul"
First travels abroad, playing concerts in Germany and Holland during an icy winter from February 19 to March 4
     "I've still got some very vivid memories of that tour, like traveling in the back of a Mercedes van and cleaning our teeth in the snow! Sleeping in the van was totally horrific, but we had to do it to save what little money there was. There were a lot of crazy incidents, including the time we got stuck in Stuttgart, with the temperature at minus 28 degrees and the diesel freezing!"
- Rob Halford, Heavy Duty official biography, 1984

     "We were like the only persons on this autobahn, it was like iced-out; a big storm had come through. We were close to this place we were supposed to be playing at. As it happened, we actually stopped at the intersection - the slip route to the turnoff. So we stopped and the guys are, 'What are we gonna do?' So what happened was Ken and Glenn and John and a couple of the crew decided, 'Well we're going to go walk to the gig and go get help. So that just left me and Ian, the bass player, in this Mercedes. Well of course it was just like being in a freeze box.
     "When the guys returned, we're like, 'What happened? What happened?' They're standing there and all they got with them is a bottle of Scotch and some candy bars. 'Well where the fuck were you guys? You were supposed to come get us.' And they said, 'Oh, well we found the club you know, and they were like really cool and there was a big party going on, so we just hung out and we had food and drinks and we all got drunk and passed out you know. And This is brotherly love..."
- Rob Halford, Rolling Stone Story Tale, 2000

Two weeks of club dates in England
March 15 City Hall St. Albans England Double header with Rocks De Luxe

Tour of Norway from March 25 to April 7, during which time the band was informed they had landed a deal with Gull Records.

     "We have so many memories from Sweden. I remember when we rode the ferry over to Gothenburg - we got seasick every time. And we had a Ford Transit van, but as we barely had enough money for gasoline, we slept in the van despite that it was very cold every time. Is it fucking winter there always?"
- Rob Halford, Aftonbladet, November 2, 2003
April 13 City Hall St. Alban's England Support from Zippa Kids
April 22 Top Rank Suite Doncaster England
In late April, Glenn Tipton joins the Priest and the band plays May and June warm-up shows, as support to Budgie and Thin Lizzy before going in the studio to record at the end of June.
May 9 Town Hall Birmingham England Glenn's first gig with Priest
May 10 Town Hall Leeds England

The back of this stub was signed by Ken (already going by "K.K."), Rob and Ian
May 11 Floral Hall Scarborough England
May 12 City Hall New Castle England
May 15 Heavy Steam Machine Stoke on Trent England
May 16 Tiffany's Club Derby England
May 17 City Hall Sheffield England
May 18 Stoneground Manchester England
May 19 King George's Hall Blackburn England
May 21 Memorial Hall Barry Wales
May 22 Pavilion Bath England Cancelled
May 22 County Hotel Taunton England
May 23 Norfolk Art College Kings Lynn England
May 24 Victoria Hall Tonbridge England
May 25 City Hall St. Albans England
May 26 Woodsville Hall
Civic Centre
Gravesend England  
May 27 Guildhall Plymouth England
May 28 Town Hall Torquay England
May 29 Town Hall High Wycombe England Cancelled ?
May 30 Top of the World
Civic Hall
Guildford England  
May 31 Community Centre Slough England
June 1 Eversham Hall Eversham England Cancelled
June 1 Ploytechnic Brighton England  
June 3 Sherwood Rooms Nottingham England  
June 4 Tiffany's Club Hull England  
June 5 Town Hall Sittingbourne England  
June 6 Westgate Hall Cantebury England  
June 7 King Alfred College Winchester England  
June 8 Stadium Liverpool England  
June 9 Marquee London England Phonogram reps on hand give Thin Lizzy a new recording contract
June 14 Locardo Ballroom Sunderland England  
June 21 Mayfair Ballroom Newcastle England  

Thanks to Jari and K.K. Downing for providing tour dates from K.K.'s scrapbooks; also to Michael Liljhammer and Al Atkins for providing tour dates from Al's personal scrapbook and contracts.
Thanks also to Christophe Dassy of the French Metallian website and the HEAVY DUTY official biography.

Steel & Leather Productions, U.S.A.