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1993 Vocalist Candidates 1996 1996/1997



GEMM is your best source for impossible-to-find !



     "It really never was a situation of us waiting to see what Rob was going to do. Of course there was a time when we believed he might come back rather quickly. But we eventually realized that wasn't about to happen. The next decision was whether or not to continue the band. I had the desire to do a solo record - which I did - and Ken had some things that interested him. But we always felt that if we were inspired by the music we were writing, and we could find a singer that inspired us, Priest would definitely go on."
- Glenn Tipton, Hit Parader, June 2004


Judas Priest L-R:
Glenn Tipton: Guitars
Scott Travis: Drums
Tim "Ripper" Owens: Vocals
K.K. Downing: Guitars
Ian Hill: Bass Guitar

Management: Bill Curbishley (Trinifold Management Limited)
Personal Assistant/Co-ordination: Jayne Andrews


Jugulator Blood Stained Dead Meat Death Row
Burn In Hell  Brain Dead
Abductors Bullet Train Cathedral Spires

Priest Music Ltd. BMG Distribution
  • Released October 16, 1997 by Zero Corporation (JPN Cat. #  ??)

  • Released October 27, 1997 by Steamhammer/SPV (EUR Cat. # 1878)

  • Released October 28, 1997 by CMC International Records (US Cat. # 86224)

Produced by Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and Sean Lynch
Recorded and mixed at Silvermere Studios, Wisley, Surrey, England
Mastered at Whitfield Street Studios

Chart position: UK #47; Billboard 200 (USA) #80; Germany: #9 Japan: #12 Sweden: #33 Switzerland: #43
Nielsen SoundScan: 110,281 units sold as of 2/12/05, though the album reportedly shipped gold (500,000 units).

JUGULATOR is total Heavy Metal, unashamedly between the eyes, brutal but still contemporary and innovative. As always, the band have evolved and are moving towards the millennium in blistering style. It is still, however, unmistakable PRIEST, and as always, we are proud of our music, past, present and future!

We have always flown the flag for metal and always will, unlike others who have mimicked less musical, short-lived styles and adopted alternative tags in the hope of selling more albums. Priest have always kept and will always keep the faith. We are closer as a band and more focused than ever. JUGULATOR is the second coming from the World's Greatest Heavy Metal Band! It is our best and most powerful work ever - Believe it! We are back and in full force - it's not an album for the faint of heart!
- Glenn, K.K., Ian, Scott & Ripper, Judas Priest site, October 1997

BRUTAL... From beginning to end...

'JUGULATOR' is a loud and proud statement about both the historic and contemporary value of a genre of music that has outlived and risen above the short-lived trends that come and go in the music industry, and about a signature metal artist that has as much and more impact today as they have had throughout their brilliant 20+ year history.

Founder members Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing who have always written and arranged all Priest material (and who do so again on JUGULATOR) continue their creative leadership on the new album. "We are ready to kick-start metal's return" states K.K. "Heavy metal is like a fever... it's contagious and once it starts, things just continue to happen". "We have emerged stronger than ever", says Glenn. "With vocalist Ripper Owens adding a new dimension to the band, we are unashamedly bringing a new level of heavy metal back to the fans at a time that is just right for our music to again impact the industry.

Now more focused and unified than ever, the band are out there touring the world and proving that once and for all there is no metal like PRIEST METAL!!

This is just the beginning of the second coming - JUDAS PRIEST are back!!!
- JUGULATOR press release, January 1998

BRUTAL... From beginning to end... is the only way to describe the new album by and the newest chapter in the continuing legend of one of heavy metal's most influential, powerful and defining bands of all time - Judas Priest.
- Creative Assignment, JUGULATOR Tour program


  • Bullet Train/Rapid Fire ('98)/The Green Manalishi ('98) released in 1998 by Zero Corporation (JPN Cat. # XRCN-2024)

  • Bullet Train (Foldout cover with popup Jugulator monster released in 1998 by Steamhammer/SPV (EUR Cat. # 80000128)

  • Bullet Train/Blood Stained released in 1998 by CMC International (US Cat. # CMC DJ 87232 promo only)

  • Burn In Hell released in 1997 by CMC International (US Cat. # CMC DJ 87247 promo only)

"Bullet Train" received a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance at the January 5, 1999 41st Annual Grammy Awards


Cover Illustration: Mark Wilkinson
Design: Andie Airfix at Satori
Photography: Ross Halfin



With Rob Halford gone, a 5 year absence to overcome and a new face and voice fronting the group, it was decided that the "Second Coming Of Judas Priest" should be ushered in with a new band logo and cross symbol, in order to let the fans know that this was not the Priest of the past!

     "The new logo is a design from Mark Wilkinson. He did the painting. We're really proud of it."
- Glenn Tipton, Hard Radio, 1997

     "I also design for Judas Priest. Of course, I work for my principals, and I want to satisfy them, but more important to me is that the fans like my work. That is why I enjoy my work so much. It is a challenge to please about 50.000 people with a CD-cover. And that is why I appreciate reactions from fans so much."
- Mark Wilkinson, Fish Fans

     "Nobody could really come up with an interesting new idea for the cover. The metal creature cranking its carcass out of hell had been done so many times. And to me, Painkiller was the last sleeve of its type in terms of heavy metal imagery."
- Mark Wilkinson, The Masque


  • Burn In Hell

Director: According to Management Co-ordinator Jayne Andrews, this video was directed by an unknown English Company.


This promo video can be found on the "Machine Man" enhanced CD single, 2001 SPV (Cat. # SPV 056-72453 CDS-E)

1993: Judas Priest end their contract with Columbia Records

After spending close to a year-and-a-half without a suitable singer to replace Rob Halford, things were looking dim for the remaining members of Judas Priest. The state of heavy metal was changing and the members of Priest questioned whether they should even continue on...

     "I think the possibility of calling it quits was on everyone’s mind. Like I say, it was getting very stale. We did a tour called Operation Rock 'N' Roll with Alice Cooper, Motörhead and some other bands, and during that tour things were a bit flat. We performed very well but back stage it was obvious Rob wasn’t happy. That put a damper on things. When he did leave, I’m sure everybody thought about it ending...but not for very long! Everybody thought ‘we’ll show them’ and before very long we were looking for a new vocalist."
- Ian Hill, Classic Rock Revisited, July 19, 1999

Columbia Records did more than question Priest - after releasing the career-spanning retrospective collection METAL WORKS, it seemed to the label to be the swan song and final closure of a successful career than lived well for almost two decades and had now reached its end, so they came to a mutual agreement to release Priest from their remaining contract. Heavy metal no longer ruled the airwaves and Priest were showing barely a glimmer of hope for a future.

Glenn Tipton went on to record a solo album, BAPTIZM OF FIRE, but it wasn't long before he got the itch to return to the task at hand - that of reviving the heavy metal thunder of Judas Priest:

     "Where do you go from Priest? Initially, with my new album, I went too far behind and strayed away from what I'm so accustomed to. Metal will always be in my blood, so I got back to it."
- Glenn Tipton, Pause And Play, February 6, 1997

And it was quickly decided amongst the remaining members and management that they were not ready to let go of the legacy and magic just yet. Encouraged by the overwhelming responses for the open vocalist position and now free from any record label input, Glenn and K.K. began mapping out their next album ideas and the search for a new vocalist narrowed down to several good possibilities...

1994-1995: Vocalist candidates selected - the "short-list"

DISCLAIMER: Non of the singers listed here have ever been revealed nor confirmed by Judas Priest or Trinifold Management to have made their short-list. These following stories were personally shared by the candidates themselves...

     "We never told anyone who was on the original short list  - not even the people who were on it!!  We don't intend to give out the names at this stage either!
     "I verbally told a few people that when we came to making a short list they would be on it, but we never officially made any dates for auditions or whatever or made an 'official' short list - we knew which people we thought would be possibles, but still the band were not convinced that they had their 'man' - that's why we didn't hold any auditions - great singers but just not quite right for Judas Priest..."
- Jayne Andrews, Management Co-ordinator, August 15 and September 2, 2003

     "We do have some people in mind. We're especially looking for someone with a unique, strong character, who can of course sing the old stuff. But almost more importantly, we're taking a look at who we can get along with - someone we'll feel comfortable around when we're on the bus during a long tour. We don't want any reoccurrences of what has happened in the past. Since we're not under any pressures, financial or otherwise, we're able to take our time and make sure that everything is right. It's like a breath of fresh air, being able to work this way. We're starting a new chapter of Judas Priest, and we're all so positive about it. The energy we've built up is tremendous, and I think the fans are going to love the new Judas Priest."
- Glenn Tipton, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, 1996

     "There were a lot of good singers who would have been willing to join the band, but then it would have been the amalgamation of two bands and we always wanted it to remain uniquely Judas Priest."
- K.K. Downing, BayInsider, July 2004

     "I remember Glenn said in interview, when asked if there were any famous singers hunting for Rob's place, 'I'm not saying any names, but Bon Jovi wasn't one of them'."
- Fan report

When Rob Halford shocked the metal community by announcing his departure from Judas Priest, many aspiring vocalists of all types, known and unknown, male and female, talented and untalented - thousands from around the world, applied for the coveted throne of the Metal God. By 1994, the list had been narrowed to 30 good possibles and writing of a new album was under way. A audition was planned early in the year, but work on Glenn's solo album caused it to never take place.

     "Due to various other commitments the band have, including Glenn Tipton working on his solo album, we have had to put the auditions off until later on in the year..."
- Jayne Andrews, Management Co-ordinator for Judas Priest, February 4, 1994

By the end of 1995, the list was narrowed down again to what Glenn Tipton referred to as a "short-list" of 5-10 finalists and letters were sent informing the remaining candidates of their status.

In 1996, Century Media released the album Legends Of Metal, A Tribute To Judas Priest Volume 1. Glenn Tipton has also claimed this to be the best tribute album made to Priest, and he even considered several of the album's vocalists as possible candidates.

Here now are the candidates and their stories, though neither Priest nor their management will confirm these:

Ralf Scheepers (ex-Tyran Pace, ex-Gamma Ray, Primal Fear)

Arguably the best choice to fill Rob Halford's shoes might have been Ralf Scheepers, formerly of Gamma Ray, now in Primal Fear. He has a look somewhat like Rob's from the Painkiller era and he can hit the high notes almost identical to Rob.  But as history reveals, it was by last minute chance that Tim Owens was discovered, and he fit the bill for what Judas Priest were looking for in their second coming. Here are the thoughts and quotes of Ralf Scheepers and Glenn Tipton concerning Ralf's application to the band:

     "I never had auditions for Judas Priest. I had promises in my bag in which their management said I would be invited. It never ever happened. Glenn Tipton was doing his solo stuff and I had to keep waiting and they said I was one of the top-of-the-list guys. All these promises that I was going to be invited and one beautiful day a letter came in which said that they found their man, Tim Owens. They did say my vocal abilities stood out, but I mean, I couldn't do anything with that! It was a big disappointment...
I don't like Priest's new style so much. Of course Priest always had aggression going on, but to me it isn't progression because this kind of thing was done by Pantera. I didn't like the new album so much, so I'm very happy to be with Primal Fear."
Ralf Scheepers, Lamentations Of The Flame Weekly #4, 1999

     "I knew for one year already that Rob Halford left Judas Priest, but I didn't do an application, so far as I never thought they would ever take me. But then Edgar, my former bandmate from Tyran Pace called me up and gave me the phone number for the personal manager of Priest, Mrs. Jayne Andrews. She said that I should send some material, so I did, sending three albums of Gamma Ray and the live video from Japan [Heading For The East]. After one month, a letter came in saying that the band like the way I am singing so they put me on the short list... Oh my God - what a long short list!!! After several promises like, 'I promise you right now that you are definitely going to be invited to do an audition', it never happened!!! I didn't even have contact to one of the band members - nothing. Just waiting... Rehearsing Judas Priest songs with some friends of my hometown... Waiting... Singing Priest songs two-and-a-half hours every other day...Waiting... Getting promises... Waiting for Glenn Tipton's solo album... Promises... Waiting... This whole process was taking two-and-a-half years of my precious time as I couldn't join another band (and there were many offers), but what should you do if you're waiting for an audition for one of the top heavy metal bands in the world? You cant just team up with some hungry musicians to create a new band... Then another letter came in:

I am very sorry to have to inform you that we will not be holding any auditions for the position of vocalist for Judas Priest as the band have found their man. We had always intended to audition as I told you, but this singer came totally out of the blue and is everything the band were looking for, so they do not feel the need to try anyone else out. The band send their apologies and thank you for being so patient. They know it's no consolation, but they would like you to know that out of the thousands of applicants we received, your vocal abilities stood out and you were amongst the final ten who they felt had something special. Once again, we are very sorry about this, but wish you luck for the future.
Best wishes,

     "WOW!!! What a hammer of disappointment!!!! I had no more Gamma Ray, I had no Judas Priest , I had nothing... Just sitting in a black hole of disappointment!!!"
- Ralf Scheepers, Steel Eagle Online

     "Well, at the time when myself and Gamma Ray parted company, I still had my application for the job of the new vocalist in Judas Priest running. I prepared myself intensively for a possible date to audition. Together with some of my friends from the Esslingen area, I rehearsed a set of almost two hours that only consisted of Judas Priest songs. We formed the Judas Priest cover band 'Just Priest' , and we also played a few local gigs from time to time. In the end I made it into a selection of the top five vocalist for the job in Judas Priest, but then it didn’t work ultimately. As a guest musician I did some vocals for the power metal band Scanner, for the solo album of Roland Grapow and also for the Gamma Ray 1996 contribution on A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal - Volume II...
     "Just Priest was actually the basic step on the way to the formation of Primal Fear. We had this one particular gig with Just Priest one day. Unfortunately however, our guitarist was getting married that some day. As I didn’t know yet what was going to happen with the job of the new singer with Judas Priest, I absolutely didn’t want to cancel that gig. So I phoned Tom Naumann, the guitarist from Sinner and asked him if he was off and if he would like to help out and play the gig with us. As soon as he had said that he was going to help out, also our bass player said that he wouldn’t want to play the gig because he was the best friend of our guitarist, and so didn’t want to miss the marriage. His replacement was none other than Mat Sinner himself. Mat was very enthusiastic after our show that he asked me if I would like to sing the choirs on his new album Judgment Days he was working on at that time. During that collaboration the idea and also the wish came up to carry on and work together in the future as well. And so Primal Fear was born..."
- Ralf Scheepers, Out Of The Black Hole, 1997

     "What actually happened, and I honestly say Ralf Scheepers is a great singer - he’s very, very good, but we had over a thousand applicants. When we put the word out, knowns, unknowns, famous guys, un-famous guys, people from every corner of the earth responded. We cut that down to a short list of thirty guys. Phenomenal, every one of them. Twenty-five to thirty guys, all fantastic singers. We were to be ready to go in March, and in February, Scott Travis came over, the drummer, and he threw a video on the table and said, 'Check this guy out.' So we put the video in, and I’ve never been so shocked in my life. We knew this guy was special, this guy we were looking at, which was Tim Owens. So we finally called him up, and he said, 'Is this for real?' He said, 'Fly me over to England and I’ll sing any Priest song you want.' So we did. We flew him over two days later. He came in on Saturday morning, and he was tired, jet legged, so I told him to get some sleep. Everyone knows this story, I think, and he said, 'Do you really think I can sleep waiting to do a Priest audition?' So we said, 'Alright. We get your point. There’s the mic. Show us what you can do.' He just went at it. He sang the first verse of 'Victim Of Changes', and we stopped the tape. I looked at K.K. and K.K. looked at me, and we knew that without any shadow of a doubt, we had our man. It was the most unbelievable experience for us, and you know what we’ve been through in our time. We knew we had our man. And he said, 'Can I finish the song?' We said, 'Yeah.' He sung the rest, and then he sung 'The Ripper'. And that was just so phenomenal, we started calling him 'Ripper' Owens, you know. That’s where he got the nickname from. It was incredible. But the most incredible thing was, we went down to the pub after, and we all sat around, and it was like he had been with us all our lives. That was the thing that really sealed it for us. We didn’t ever want to be without a singer again, so we wanted to find someone not only with incredible vocal ability, but also someone who felt like he had always been with us. We felt like we got the man in one fell swoop, and it was a strange sensation because Priest has never really had any luck. We’ve always had to make our own, and this was our piece of luck, finding this guy. No one else on the planet could be more appropriate. When you hear the new album, I think you'll agree."
- Glenn Tipton, Heavy Metal at the Mining Company, October 3, 1997

Rumors made the rounds that Ralf was not chosen because he was German, but that accusation was unfounded:

     "Nationality never entered in our minds. I mean, when we were looking for a vocalist, there’s all kinds of people that cropped up: People from Rumania, people from Greece, Czechoslovakia, Germany. We never thought, Oh, no, he’s no good; he’s from Rumania, or whatever. We just listened and thought, Can he cut the mustard with us?"
- Ian Hill, Prime-Choice, January 21, 1998


D.C. Cooper (Royal Hunt, Silent Force)

     "I had achieved some recognition in Europe because I was one of the final vocalists for the Judas Priest lead singer job."
- D.C. Cooper, Ram.org, January 13, 1998

     "I was one of the final four. As a matter of fact, none of the four singers got the job either.
     "Actually how it all took place... At the time, my management company was CMI, out of New York City. I was up there shopping around my local band from Pittsburgh; that's when I was still just green around the gills. But I had been working in the business for a couple of years with local stuff. And we had a pretty good album we were out there shopping around. And Hernando Courtright was the one who pulled me aside and said, 'Have you ever thought about shopping yourself around?' And I said, 'No, not really. Why? What did you have in mind?' He was the manager of Tom Allom, Judas Priest's producer for quite a few years. And he said, 'Well, Judas Priest is looking for a new singer, what do you think about that?' 'Yeah. Ok.', and I sent some stuff off. And that's how stuff got started. And through the process, because it had taken like two years from the time I sent in the first tapes and photos until I received the phone call for the audition, well after about a year I started getting phone calls. My name started popping up, where people had been hearing that I was becoming a ranking person for the replacement of Halford. And that started an industry buzz, 'Hey, a singer from Pittsburgh's available'. And then I was contacted by several different bands from around the world. There was one from Finland, one from Germany... and then I got this tape from Royal Hunt from Copenhagen. And that's who I decided to go with - to check out.

     "...I had studied and worked on my voice for so long to be able to sing like Geoff Tate and Rob Halford. I really, really worked hard, and there was no room for it in the U.S. anymore. And that's why I started checking things out Internationally.
     "...I mean, I was already in Royal Hunt, and I probably would've stayed in Royal Hunt even if offered the position with Judas Priest. But it was the highlight of my career to get to go audition and walk into a room with K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton. It was just absolutely amazing. Scott Travis was drumming at the time."

- D.C. Cooper,
Souls Of Chaos

Tim Lachman (Gargoyle, State Of The Art, and Eleventh Hour)

Tim meets his hero
backstage in 2001

Tim is the brother of Halford's former guitarist Patrick Lachman.

     "I got a call in the mid '90s from my good friend Swiss Cris of Rock Hard, informing me that Priest was looking for a new front man. I was jamming around Los Angeles at the time in different projects, keeping busy, etc. I sent a package to their manager, Jayne Andrews. A few weeks later she called and said, 'I work with Judas Priest, can I ask you a question - Do you have a lot of Tattoos?'
I was thrown, but told her, 'Only one, slightly visible.' She told me that was good, as she had received numerous press kits w/ guys who had gone out and copied Rob's tats exactly, and even tried to look exactly like him. We had a good laugh about that one!

     "Anyway, she informed me they had narrowed their search, and I was definitely in the running, so stand-by in the next few weeks. A couple of weeks later I get a call:
'Is Tim There?' 'This is Tim'. 'Tim, this is Glenn Tipton with Judas Priest, and I'm here in LA, are you busy today?' Long Pause............I'm thinking is this a joke? 'Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, no I'm not busy!' He says. 'Good, I'm here in ______ studio, with a friend of yours, Ken Van Drutten (Kid Rock, Kiss, et al). I guess you know where it is?' 'Yeah, I'll be down in an hour?' He says, 'Cool!'
     "I'm in shock, especially after realizing I sound like Uhhhhhhhhhhhh, Beavis on the damn phone... I'm flying down to this studio around 150 mph, head spinning and thinking this is fate. My friend Ken is working with Glenn on his solo project. (Ken, consequently engineered my band State of the Art's demo, that I had sent to Jayne Andrews). Ken is chatting with Glenn about me and pumping me up to him.
     "I arrive at the studio, and Glenn is sitting at the recording console. He walks up, smiles and says, 'Nice to meet you!' Very cordial, very down to earth. He played me some stuff, and we talked about the Rob situation and the future of Priest, my career, and his goals. I had to ask, 'What happened with Rob?' Glenn says very simply: 'His manager.' That is the only reason Rob Halford is no longer in Judas Priest. 'Nuff said. We hung out most of the day, and then we wrapped it up. He said, 'You have one of the best voices I have heard, and it's basically between you and two other dudes. We will fly you out to the UK soon, we'll hang out and Jam.' In parting, I say (very cocky), 'Listen: Glenn, I don't want to be a Rob clone. I have my own style, and when you guys hear me sing with you-  I Will Be Your New Singer!!!'
     "I still haven't learned to keep my big mouth shut! Oh well. He nods and says, 'Good, we don't want another Rob. We want someone with their own vibe, that we can be on a tour bus with, and is confident, but no crazy egos.'
     "I'm driving home and Ken calls me on the cell and says Glenn was excited, and was talking with the other producer that was there also, about our meeting. I'm nutted up thinking privately, 'I fucking got it! I'm in!' I start getting calls from people saying, 'Dude, congrats! We hear you're the new singer of Judas Priest!' I'm like, 'What did you hear?' 'Some guy named Tim'... Absolute Craziness.
     "A couple of industry people told me K.K. and Ian wanted me, and Glenn was undecided, but who knows? A few weeks later I got the same form letter the other dudes got saying Judas Priest has found their man, they're calling off the auditions, blah, blah, blah,..
That was a bizarre feeling but that's the Biz! Hurry up and wait, then see ya...close call. It was a cool opportunity none the less!
     "Years later, Swiss Cris hooks up my brother Patrick with Halford! One night, about a year and a half ago, I'm having dinner with Pat, Rob, and the Halford band. Definitely one of the Highlights of my life! Anyway, Pat says to Rob, 'Tim almost sang for Judas Priest' Rob looks at me and says, 'Isn't that fucking weird?' Indeed! It is always nerve-racking to hang out with one of your idols. You sometimes are disappointed, but in this case I was on a high. Whenever I see Rob, or speak to him on the phone (when he calls for my brother, he always chats for a few, and asks how my projects are) - he is a class act, a true gentleman. The Metal God!
Well, shortly after that, a mutual friend of mine and George Clooney, informs me George is producing a movie called Rock Star. It is loosely based on the story of the kid who got the Priest Gig! You gotta love that!!"

- Tim Lachman, 2003

David Reece (Dare Force, Beowulf, Lillian X, Accept, Bangalore Choir, Sircle Of Silence)


     "It sounded good, but you have to understand that it’s really hard being a replacement, coming in after someone else,”
- David Reese, Classic Rock Revisited

     "I remember reading on the internet that David Reese said on stage that he was the new singer in Priest and showed some people a contract that said something like he wasn't allowed to sign with a record company and/or join a signed band for some time."
- Fan Report

Anthony (Tony) O' Hara (Praying Mantis, Horakane)

Tony is best known as the singer for Praying Mantis, which also includes former Iron Maiden guitarist Dennis Stratton.

     "I was very late in applying for the Priest gig as I'd heard rumors that Ralph Scheepers had it sewn up. However, in January 1994 I noticed in Kerrang! that a few more names were being bandied about - one of them being a friend of mine, Tony Mills. I knew it was very late in the day but I sent a package to Trinifold and two days later received a phone call from Jayne Andrews. Jayne said that the band were really excited having heard my tapes and even more so that I was relatively unknown. Would I be available to come to Birmingham for a week with the band as I was now top of the shortlist? I obviously said, 'Yes' and Jayne was to phone me the following day. I was actually shaking in disbelief when I hung up the phone. Next day - no phone call. Day after - no phone call. I telephone Jayne at home and she tells me that something had come up and Glenn would be working on his solo album but I was definitely going to have an audition. I told her, 'Anytime, anyplace, at the band's convenience - I'll be ready'. Okay, I'm a bit disappointed but at least I will get my chance to prove myself. Then a letter arrived:

February 4th, 1994
Dear Tony, re: JUDAS PRIEST

Due to various other commitments the band have, including Glenn Tipton working on his solo album, we have had to put the auditions off until later on in the year. As soon as we arrange a definite time, I will let you know and hope you'll be able to make it. Best regards,

     "I had to phone Jayne every few weeks to try and get an update on the situation. She assured me that the auditions would be soon and I was still one of the favorites. At the time I was spending 2-3 hours a day hammering out Priest vocals and had my voice at its very best. By November I was almost ready to burst with anger and frustration when I received a letter telling me to be ready for my audition in South Wales in early January - I will be the first. Whoo-Hoo!!!! Finally!!!! I didn't phone Jayne over the Christmas period but thought I would ring in early New Year... No need. In early January I received this:

Dear Tony, re: JUDAS PRIEST

I am very sorry to have to inform you that we will not be holding any auditions for the position of vocalist for Judas Priest as the band have found their man. We had always intended to audition as I told you, but this singer came totally out of the blue and is everything the band were looking for, so they do not feel the need to try anyone else out. The band send their apologies and thank you for being so patient. They know its no consolation, but they would like you to know that out of thousands of applicants we received, your vocal abilities stood out and you were amongst the final ten who they felt had something special. Once again, we are very sorry about this, but wish you luck for the future.

P.S. You should be very proud of your achievement. Please keep this letter for your future references.

     "GUTTED!!!!! I later joined Praying Mantis and the first album I recorded with them was produced by Chris Tsangarides (Painkiller). He's a brilliant guy and I 'learned' a lot from him!
     "I went to see Judas Priest with Ripper in Wolverhampton. I cheekily paged Jayne Andrews from the box office to see if I could have a couple of passes for my wife and I. (After all, I felt that wouldn't be unreasonable after the Judas Priest roller coaster ride I had been on.) Jayne appeared and after reminding her who I was, she managed to produce two tickets for the show. No passes, as a lot of the band's families were there that night. Ripper was outstanding. Vocally he's one of the best metal singers I've seen live. I spoke to Jayne after the show and said that they definitely had the right guy. She was very kind and spent 5-10 minutes talking with my wife and I.
     "My final opinion: I still wish that I would have been given my chance. The management could have handled things much better. However, in all honesty I don't think I could have bettered Tim Owens and I can understand why, when the band heard him, they hired him immediately. I am still a huge Priest fan-old and new."
- Tony O' Hara, 2003

     "The song 'Over The Edge' from the Horakane album Eternal Infinity is very Priesty. Funnily enough, that was on the first demo that I gave Tino and it didn't sound too dissimilar; it sounded pretty much the same. But for example, we were talking about arrangements and how Ivan helped - you know where the vocal comes in and the track stops - well it used to just pound all the way through. He said, 'Look, because it is such a heavy vocal why don't we just stop everything there and have it like question and answer with the guitar?' And you hear it right away which I quite like but it does sound very Rob Halford. But that song was written really, really, quick because when I first meet Ivan a couple of years back, he said, 'Can you send me some stuff?' And when he got it he said, 'Oh, I didn't realize how light-weight it was. Some of it reminds me of Winger. Can you send me something heavier?' I went upstairs, and it was at the time I was still in the running for the auditions for Judas Priest, and I sort of knocked that track out and I thought I want something to be very Priesty. I was trying to think of something like 'Freewheel Burning' or some thing like that. So that was deliberate - it was supposed to sound Priestish."
- Tony O' Hara, April 2, 1999

Tony Mills (Shy, Siam)

Tony O'Hara (above) says he remembers Tony Mills' name appearing in Kerrang! as a candidate for Priest and Tony's name was also mentioned in a 1993 Swedish magazine (Bravo or OKEJ) News section and then never again, so it's doubtful he made the short-list.

Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad)

The talented singer/guitarist that heads Strapping Young Lad and his own self-named band had sang on a Judas Priest tribute album that Glenn Tipton helped sanction. Liking the voice he heard, Glenn added Devin to his short-list to audition, but sources say Devin turned the offer down due to the fact that he was much younger then the rest of the band (by a 30 year gap) and because he was a well-rounded guitarist, which would not fit into a band already made legendary with their "twin-guitar attack".

     "Gosh, this is my whole viewpoint on the whole thing, and as much as this is makes me sound like a dick, I don't really care too much about it. I mean, they gave me a call and said, 'Hey, we know about you, blah blah blah, we want to fly you out so you can audition', right? My biggest thing is, when I was a kid, we're talking about ten or thirteen years old or whatever, I mean, Judas Priest was my favourite band at the time, and you know, Unleashed In The East I thought was amazing and blah blah blah and K.K. Downing had cool hair and the whole works...
     "When I got a chance to start doing it, it's like, I think, any artist likes to hear themselves playing songs they really liked when they were a kid, and so I kept on doing all these Priest covers... No-one would want to see Devin Townsend singing for Judas Priest, I mean its ridiculous. Whoever gets that gig is going to look like a fool, you know what I mean? Ripper Owens or whatever the guy's name is, I mean, I wish him luck and I'm sure he's a good singer but... God, I don't know if Judas Priest are like, prepared to take over the youth of today with a new metal onslaught; their demographic is going to be based around people from 25 to 40 years old you know, and they're not gonna give a shit about some kid coming in and singing, and I wouldn't go into Judas Priest trying to be Rob Halford. I'd go in there doing what I do and it would look ridiculous, you know. I also figure, it's like the whole... I'd have way more respect for those guys as musicians if they...
s much as I thought Fight sucked, at least Rob Halford was doing something that was not sort of trodding on the same horse, you know. It sort of struck me as at least he was trying to be something different. And the whole idea of Motley Crüe coming back together and Kiss, although I went and saw the concert and it was pretty good...it sort of strikes me as sort of being more of a cash grab than a legitimate 'they've got something to say'..."
- Devin Townson, 3RRR FM Hard Report, April 1997

   "The synth guitar tone approach on the album INFINITY all happened because I listened to Judas Priest a bit too much when I was a kid, when they were making little synthy guitar tracks..."
Devin Townson,
Beat Magazine February 10, 1999

     "Devin was a strong contender although he wouldn't have dealt with some of the older stuff too well. He has a great voice and lots of enthusiasm."
- Glenn Tipton, Hard Radio, 1997

Matthew T. McCourt (Wild Dogs, Dr. Mastermind, Evil Genius, Mayhem, The Ravers)

In 1993, Matt used the Wild Dogs demo containing "The Vulture" and "Rank And File" to audition for Judas Priest on a referral from drummer Deen Castronovo (Ozzy, Bad English, Journey). Priest sent the tapes back along with a frameable rejection letter!

     "I really did make a good stab at joining Judas Priest, although the vocal range is way out of my league. They even sent all my stuff back - tapes, photos, etc. - very nice. They said they weren't going to continue with the band. Then they found Ripper - he's great! He performed after the Judas Priest concert here in Portland with a Priest tribute band, called British Steel. Jay Reynolds of Malice plays for them. I think he is fucking awesome! I also like Rob and Fight. Actually, I go way back with Priest and saw them for the first time when they were third on a bill with Mahogany Rush as headliners."
- Matthew T. McCourt, Snakepit #7, 2000

Sebastian Bach (Skid Row)

     "Judas Priest wanted me to try out, but I didn't find out about it until after Doc McGhee, my manager at the time, told them no. He told them that there was no way I could try out for them, and then he told me that. They asked Doc and he killed it before I even knew about it. I didn't even know about any of it. He said, 'I told them no'. I was like, 'Thanks...' That was that. That was like '96 I think... I was finally kicked out of Skid Row in December '96. It was like right around that time.
I would've tried out, yeah. I definitely would've. It's one of my favorite bands and Skid Row was doing nothing so... Yeah. All I know is that I would've definitely tried out. I would've gotten on the plane and gone over there. Actually, Priest's manager,  Bill Curbishley, called my house after I found out about this, about Doc telling them no. I said to Doc, 'Give me the guy's number'. So I called him up and he said, 'Well yeah, at one point the band really wanted to talk to you and have you try out for the band, but Doc said no'. So they got the Ripper guy in there and so that was that. That's all I can say about that."
- Sebastian Bach, Spitfire, 2001

Jeff Martin (Surgical Steel, Racer X, Badlands, MSG)

Jeff Martin never auditioned for the spot in Priest, but he did find out through friends that he was considered by the band as a possibility. Jeff has been close to the band in the past and he has a very good Halford-like voice. Jeff is also an accomplished drummer, having recorded and toured with Badlands and MSG among others.

Jeff's first band, the early-mid '80s Phoenix, Arizona metal outfit Surgical Steel, cut a demo tape that featured Rob Halford singing duet with Jeff on the song "Smooth And Fast". Jeff also contributed vocals to the chorus of "Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days" and wrote a verse to "Private Property" on the Turbo album. Rob also gave Jeff's band Racer X (which includes Judas Priest drummer Scott Travis) his blessing to record the unreleased Priest song "Heart Of A Lion".

John West (Royal Hunt, Artension, Badlands, Lynch Mob)

It is unclear whether or not John ever applied for the job in Judas Priest, but he did apply to Iron Maiden and was searching for a good metal band to record and tour with. Eventually, he did get recognized by Glenn Tipton, who considered John's voice for the work Glenn was doing with drummer Cozy Powell. There was even a Japanese deal in the works to put together a band featuring Tipton, Powell, West and bassist Neil Murray (see the story here), but it never materialized once Priest returned to power.

     "I along with the band listened to everyone of the tapes that were sent in and I also wrote to everyone of the applicants!! No-one was invited to any audition - we never set up any - we always planned to but the band still were not convinced they had found the right guy - some great vocalists but not for Judas Priest - until we heard Ripper - then we knew he was the one, so no auditions were needed!"
- Jayne Andrews, Management Co-ordinator, August 18, 2003

     "There sure as hell was a point where we felt we might not find a suitable vocalist. What if he had the ideal voice but he looked strange? We can’t just get someone who looks great either, so we were sweating."
- K.K. Downing, Illiterature.com, 1997

Ski (Deadly Blessing, Faith factor)

Ski has been said to possess a mixture of King Diamond, Michael Sweet (Stryper), and Dan Beehler (Exciter) in his vocal abilities. He applied for the vocalist spot in Priest twice, sending pictures, recordings and videos when they first began looking for candidates to audition and once again after Glenn Tipton had released his solo album BAPTIZM OF FIRE. Both times Ski only received the standard "Thanks, but no thanks" letter...

The following names have also been mentioned in various publications as being candidates:

  • Warrel Dane of Nevermore 

  • Andy Pyke of Marshall Law

  • Matthew Barlow of Iced Earth

  • Ray Alder of Fates Warning

  • Chuck Billy of Testament

  • Panos Deddes of Casus Belli

  • David DeFreis of Virgin Steele

  • King Diamond of Merciful Fate

  • Hansi Kürsch of Blind Guardian

  • Rolf Kasparak of Running Wild

Please feel free to email me with more names, quotes and info and I'll make the updates!

1996: Welcome Ripper; Al Atkins returns (sort of)

With Fight disbanded and Priest getting back in action, Scott Travis returned at the end of '95 with a surprise even he was unaware of...

The vocalist auditions were finally scheduled to take place February 1996 in South Wales, but suddenly letters were once again sent out, only this time to announce the auditions were cancelled!

Indeed, Priest had found their missing link - Ripper Owens:

     "We were just about to do the auditions - we had a list of about 15 guys from all around the world that we were gonna fly in. Someone apparently gave our drummer, Scott Travis, a video tape of our man Ripper. When we played the tape and saw him there, dressed in leather and studs, singing all these old Priest songs, we were just blown away! We knew that he was our guy. Up until that point, I don't think any of us were totally confident and knew exactly what we were looking for. We figured if we hired a Rob Halford clone, if you will, certain fans may take offense. But we also knew we wanted to get somebody who can sing all the classic Priest songs exactly the same way that they had always been sung, and when we heard Ripper sing them, we flew him over straight away. He came in and sang two songs: 'Victim Of Changes' and 'The Ripper', and we went down to the pub afterwards to celebrate. From then on, we just started calling him 'Ripper' because of the way he sang 'The Ripper', as if it were second nature. The Gods looked down upon us and said, 'It's your lucky day, Priest...here's your man.' "
K.K. Downing, Hard Radio Shockwaves, 1998

While the "Ripper" nickname was given to Owens by Glenn Tipton, Tim's mom has also begun to call him "Ripper", and his dad got a Judas Priest tattoo on his bicep!

     "Without Ripper, there wouldn’t be a Priest. Ripper is the only guy in the world who could have taken over for Rob. There’s no doubt about it. We looked for five years, and we had a short list of ten incredible singers out of the thousands that we looked at. They were tremendous singers, but they weren’t Judas Priest singers. I knew that going into the auditions - these were great singers, but we didn’t have a Judas Priest singer until he walked in the door."
- Glenn Tipton, KNAC.com, September 10, 2002

     "I was like, 'Yeah, whatever' when people bugged me to check out Owens and British Steel, because we've all heard stories of supernatural musicians playing in clubs. "Simultaneously, I had this friend in upstate New York, and she was also aware of Tim and she was saying, 'You should take this videotape I have of British Steel over to England when you go and let
the guys see it.'
     "Tim wasn't aware that Priest was even looking or that I had possession of this videotape, because it wasn't a tape that came
from the band, it was a tape shot by a fan in another city."

- Scott Travis,
Goldmine magazine, June 5, 1998

     "I was in a Priest tribute band. It was called British Steel. But people often think that's all that I did. I did the Priest tribute band because at that time I had an original band called Winter's Bane and we couldn't get any gigs. So, someone suggested we do a Priest tribute. We traveled around and opened as Winter's Bane and sold our CD's and then headlined as a tribute band. It was so similar. I did that for a year, and then I wasn't in it for a year when I got the phone call. I did this, and then my last show was videotaped. If it wasn't for that, I wouldn't have gotten the gig. I could have sent tapes in, but they wouldn't have seen that videotape. I really don't know what was so special about that video. It was really grainy - not a good videotape - but my voice really stuck out like it wasn't real - like it was dubbed in, they said. They really thought it might have been dubbed in. They wanted to be sure. They even called me back (Well, management called me first and then Scott Travis, the drummer, called me) to make sure it wasn't dubbed in.
     "I didn't even know about the tape. It was my last show, taped in Erie, Pennsylvania. These two friends of Scott's took the tape over to him, played it to him and they called me".
- Ripper Owens, Metal Update, June 7, 2001

     "Scott's lucky I didn't get his number. I would've called him, too.
     "After I got the call from Priest and was flown out to audition, I walked in, and they said, 'Go ahead and get some sleep, we'll do it tomorrow'. I looked at them and said, 'You got to be nuts. I'm going to fly all this way and be able to go to sleep? Let's do it now.' We did 'Victim of Changes'. After the first line, Glenn hit the button and said, 'All right, Owens, you've got the gig.' And he started laughing, and it was like, 'Ah, OK.' So I sang the rest of the song and he walked in and said, 'You got it.' When I came back home, I wasn't allowed to tell anybody that I made the band except my parents."
- Ripper Owens, Goldmine magazine, June 5, 1998

     "We had narrowed it down to 15 guys. Scott said we had to hear this guy from British Steel. We put up his video and he was amazing! I could not believe it. We phoned him up, 'You can't be this good'. Tim said, 'Fly me over and I'll do any Priest song you want me to'. We flew him over two days later, asked him what he wanted to sing and he said, 'Just put up the first song on the reel' and we put up 'Victim Of Changes' and he sang the first verse. We gave him the job. We went on to play other songs with him, including 'The Ripper' - that's why we gave him his name. He's unbelievable...We'd listened to literally thousands of singers; Russian Eskimos, men, women, people from all corners of the world, knowns, unknowns. But here we knew without a shadow of a doubt we'd found our man. He went out there and completely stunned us."
- Glenn Tipton,
New York Times, July 27, 1997

     "I could hear music inside. I walk in the dining room, and there's this giant table. There's Ian Hill. Then there's Scott way down playing drums. And Glenn sitting on an amp, jamming. You're used to seeing them on posters all around your room, and then you're there with them.
     "I get off the plane in Cleveland the day after I got the job, and I handed my mom an autographed picture that I signed too and I said, 'Mom, this is Judas Priest's autograph.' She said, 'Maybe some day it will be.' I said, 'No, this is it. This is the band. This is all of them.' She started crying."
- Ripper Owens,
New York Times, July 27, 1997

     "When I made the band I went home and gave an autographed photo of Priest to my parents. It was a sheet of paper with all their names on it, and I signed my name on it too, and I wrote underneath, 'Dreams Do Come True'. I gave it to them when they picked me up at the airport and they kind of stared at it a second and said: 'Well, maybe some day.' And I said: 'No. I'm the singer.' And they said: 'Maybe some day you will be.' It was quite funny, because they just couldn't believe it. And then my mum burst out crying. You've got to understand that my parents had always supported me with my music. So it was as much a dream come true for them as it was for me."
- Ripper Owens, The Guardian, November 9, 2001

Introducing the new family

Ripper has been met by the fans with mixed results, some feeling the new aggression and style moves away from their classic sound, while others positively view it as a natural progression, but overall, Ripper has been welcomed into the Priest legacy, even becoming a fan-favorite for many:

     "We had to get someone who could deal with all the Priest classics as they should be sung, because that's the way the fans would want to hear them. But we also had to find someone who had flexibility and his own character. Or at least his own attributes that we could develop into his own character."
- Glenn Tipton, The Guardian, November 9, 2001

     "Tim’s got a side to his vocals that we didn’t have before - not just the classic Priest high vocals and ballads. We have a song called 'Cathedral Spires' and it’s ballad-like on the front and it has a different edge and a different side and more dimensions, so we’ll be sure to utilize that. You get used to somebody for a month in the studio and the next thing, you feel like you’ve been together forever.
     "There’s no doubt Ripper can fill the shoes and legacy of Rob Halford. We spent a long time looking for a vocalist and he had to sound right and he had to look right, but the main thing is, he has to get up on that stage and sing those Priest songs like Halford did when he was in his 20s. Those songs were written and recorded during the ‘70s and the ‘80s and Owens is 30, and he’s in his prime and he’s very strong vocally. When a vocalist gets past a certain age, a degeneration starts to creep in and it's hard to cut it. This guy can go out there and do these songs and if anyone thinks he can’t, we’d like to hear from them because we’re that confident.
     "It’s uncanny how similar it is to hear Ripper do those Halford songs. His vocal range is the complete Halford range and the tonalities are very similar, so when he belts out songs like 'Victim Of Changes', 'Genocide', 'Breaking The Law' or 'Living After Midnight', it’s going to sound the same as it always did. I’d like to say better, because they can be performed now like they were when they were current, which is exciting for me."

- K.K. Downing, Illiterature.com, 1997

     "It took us five long years to find the right guy to replace Halford, as he was a great vocalist, But when we heard Ripper, we knew he was right for Priest. It sends shivers down my spine when he sings!"
- Glenn Tipton, Total Guitar, 1998

The Return Of Al Atkins?

Al Atkins' band members L-R:
Paul May: Lead Guitar
Pete Emms: Bass
Al Atkins: Lead Vocals
Dave Holland: Drums

In 1989, original Priest vocalist Al Atkins teamed up with original Priest bassist Bruno Stapenhill to record Al's first solo album. The album, JUDGMENT DAY, included a remake of Al's original "Whiskey Woman" portion of "Victim Of Changes". Then in 1995, Al did a remake of "Caviars And Meths", but included the full 8-minute version, complete with vocals, that Priest had only recorded as a 2-minute instrumental to close out their debut ROCKA ROLLA album. Al's version was part of an album titled HEAVY THOUGHTS (the title of a song Al had written for Judas Priest in early '73), but the album was never released internationally until 2003. In fact, K.K. Downing was even hired to mix this album, though rumors spread that he actually played on it:

     "I know there is the rumor that guitarist K.K. Downing played on some of the HEAVY THOUGHTS tracks. It is untrue, but he was in the studio giving a helping hand."
- Al Atkins, HEAVY THOUGHTS liner note, 2003

As it turned out, when K.K. arrived, he found the initial recording had turned out so good that there was little help needed at all, and the Priest vocal rehearsals were calling on K.K.'s availability, so he returned to his Priestly duties...

Then in 1996, right before Judas Priest made their return with JUGULATOR, Al Atkins made his return to Judas Priest. No, he didn't step back into the vocal position with the band, but he did get together with former Priest drummer Dave Holland to re-record all the songs Al had written with K.K. and Ian in the early days before Rob Halford and Glenn Tipton were even in the band. The resulting album was the 1998 release Victim Of Changes on Neat Metal Records (titled PRIEST 69-73 in Japan):

     "Dave just had finished some session work together with Tony Iommi and Glenn Hughes (because the Black Sabbath reunion postponed Iommi's solo album) and was very enthusiastic. Our fear was that the fans would accuse us of selling out, but that's not true. The foundation stone for Victim Of Changes was set two years ago in 1996. When I spoke with K.K., at that time it didn't look like Priest would find a worthy replacement for Rob and go on."
- Al Atkins, May 1998

In fact, K.K. did give his blessing and support to VICTIM OF CHANGES, though he wasn't completely sure Al would be up to the task of re-recording songs made popular with Rob Halford's distinctive vocals...

     "The guys in Priest don't have a problem with me putting this stuff out. I have spoken with K.K. about it and he said, 'Okay, I'm looking for some old pictures for you.' And these were much more than we could use for the CD. We want to use many of them in a video and are giving the material to the magazines."
- Al Atkins, Heavy Metal Oder Was!? magazine, June 1998

     "It might be a mistake for Al to try and re-record those songs, because he's about 102 years old now. Ha, ha!"
- K.K. Downing, Detritus, November 20, 1997

VICTIM OF CHANGES features another full remake of "Caviar And Meths" (complete with vocals), and full remakes of "Never Satisfied" and "Winter" (Al's contributions to ROCKA ROLLA), "Victim Of Changes" (Al's contribution to SAD WINGS OF DESTINY), and two songs ("Mind Conception" and "Holy Is The Man") Al wrote back with the original Judas Priest, before K.K. and Ian came into the picture!

     "These are songs which were created before the real starting of Priest. The band didn't really start with a label until 1974. For that reason I call this collection the 'early years'. I saw a demand for the publication of it. Finally, I got fan letters from all over the world asking for some old material. It's cool to present these songs now, because Priest have gone into a more brutal direction right now. I don't think that this is bad, but it's a sound of the '90s and I prefer the old material. For me, Unleashed In The East is the best and most important album of the band. It shows what they were able to do in a live situation and got them the turning point in their career."
- Al Atkins, Heavy Metal Oder Was!? magazine, June 1998

The album also features a cover resembling Judas Priest's Sin After Sin cover - not to steal from Priest, but to help make the early Priest connection.

With the bad history of Gull Records' reissues and confusing covers, Trinifold Management were insistent that Al did not put the name "Judas Priest" anywhere on the cover, but did allow him to go forward with the release:

     "I also had to speak with their management about the publication. They had no objections but prohibited using the name 'Judas Priest' on the cover. We were able to avoid this, but built a cover art work with a clear connection to Priest."
- Al Atkins, Heavy Metal Oder Was!? magazine, June 1998

What did concern the band and their management however, was that Atkins was toying with the idea of touring with a live band titled Judicator. Though it never came to be, the name was too close for comfort to the band's comeback JUGULATOR album!

1996-1997: Recording commences; a new label is found and JUGULATOR is released

Though the new album had already been written by the middle of December 1995, it was done so with the only vocals they had known in mind - those of Rob Halford. And though Owens was from a Judas Priest tribute band and mimicked Rob's style, he also had a style of his own rooted in more aggressive tones. Therefore, the album had to go back to the writing stages to utilize the extended range and style of Owens. The guys in Priest had a lot of anger pent up over the years since Rob left and it was now able to be released in a brutal way, thanks in part to Ripper's capabilities and style.

     "JUGULATOR was written without a singer; Tim came in pretty late in the day. Glenn and Ken wrote all the music and Glenn wrote all the lyrics. It was all already done when Tim showed up, so he didn't have much of a chance to give any input, but I am sure that in the albums that are to come, that he will put his hand in.
     "Tim's got an incredible range. JUGULATOR, we probably couldn't have done with Rob. He was losing it a bit towards the end. In hindsight, he probably did everyone a favor when he left the band. Now we can go out and perform all of the old songs to perfection and there is so much talent there for the future. We plan to keep at it now."

- Ian Hill, Music America, 1998

     "There were ten songs written for JUGULATOR, but not recorded - just demoed, which is kind of good for Priest, because we never really had any stuff in the can. Now we can develop these songs and get Owens involved and formulate some ideas for the next album.
- K.K. Downing, Illiterature.com, 1997

Recording got underway at Silvermere Studios near Guildford, England, with Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing producing, aided by Sean Lynch, who has engineer and mixing credits with Black Sabbath, Brian May, Gary Numan, Graham Bonnet and others. But it was no easy task getting things finalized. It had been seven years since their last studio album and almost five years since the band was last seen. The face of heavy metal music had changed drastically and Priest had missed out on the important steps needed to evolve their sound:

     "There's two albums missing between Painkiller and Jugulator. Two or three steps forward instead of just one."
- Ian Hill,
Goldmine magazine, June 5, 1998

     "With Jugulator, we had seven years between albums and we had to think where the band would be if those missing albums were there. There should have been two albums between Painkiller and Jugulator.
"It’s funny because, I mean, when we had the long layoff, we had a layoff between 1991 and 1997. During that time, your batteries recharge, your enthusiasm comes back up. Up until that tour, things were getting really stale. But now, after the layoff, everyone was itching to get back at it. Really, everyone’s enthusiasm and incentive is back! It is a really fantastic feeling! It’s so satisfying as well, everyone’s heading in the same direction, everyone gets along in the band, we’ve got some great material. It’s really gratifying, we are really over the moon in the way things have gone!
     "We probably should have been dead 3 or 4 times over with some of the things we’ve got up to!! The fact that we are all friends and get along together is a major reason we've been able to survive for so long. I think another reason is that Judas Priest has never been a fad. We have never been a trend. We’ve watched bands get more than us and take all the glory and success and you think, ‘God, what are they doing that we’re not?’, then 3 or 4 years later there dead, buried and forgotten and we're still going! We are very, very lucky!
- Ian Hill, Classic Rock Revisited, July 19, 2000

     "We’re up and running now. Glenn did a solo project as well. He’d got an album in his head, and he needed to get rid of that, so that held us up for a couple of years as well. And, of course, Ripper wasn’t easy to find, either. We waded through thousands of tapes and videos trying to find the right singer..."
     "I’m sure there’s some frustration in JUGULATOR. We did consciously want to push forward - we have to push forward. We couldn’t go back and do another Painkiller, or as some people suggested, carry on from Defenders Of The Faith. We could not do that, otherwise we just would’ve been labeled a bunch of... like, a classic rock band, and that would’ve been the end of that. There wouldn’t have been any future in it at all. I think that these are the people that expect us to go back to Defenders Of The Faith and do another classic metal album. We’re quite capable of doing that, but I think it would’ve sounded the death knell of the band if we had done that. We wouldn’t have picked up any of the younger fans. I mean, it’s been seven years now and a lot of the newer fans which are being brought up on the newer material, the newer bands that are coming through, haven’t heard of us. And we’ve got to go out and sell ourselves to those people, which, again, is another reason behind Jugulator. We had to take those couple of steps forward; we couldn’t rest on where we were and risk the chance of just sort of fading out. So we made a conscious effort, like I said, to take at least two, three steps forward to drag metal into the next millennium, not just to the end of this one.

     "See, one of the problems I’ve had with the Panteras - not that I’m saying that Phil Anselmo is a bad vocalist, ‘cause he’s not; Phil is a phenomenal vocalist and they’re a great band. But he does do a helluva lot of screaming and yelling, rather than singing. It’s one of the things that we wanted to avoid, really, although there is some gravelly growls in there and all the rest of it. But we did make a conscious effort that there’s gotta be singing on this album. I mean, there’s the two things that this band has always been known for, that’s quality vocals and quality guitars. So we have to keep that, even though we did rough it up a bit. We have to keep the singing in there."

- Ian Hill, Prime-Choice, January 21, 1998

     "You'll find it's all very '90's, and definitely metal. What I've recorded seems a bit heavier than the old Priest. It still has a lot
of the classic guitar sounds, but it's very up-to-date. A lot of bands waste their time developing one particular style, and they soon find themselves outdated. Priest has always tried to update our sound with each different album. Sure, we can look back now and think, 'Well, maybe that wasn't the right choice', or something we tried to do may seem embarrassing now. But at the time, it seemed like the right move to make. I really believe that 90% of what Priest has done was what the fans wanted at the time. We went with
what felt right.
     "Heavy metal has changed a lot. The glamour has been ripped away; It's down to meat and bones and It's very hardcore. I think the fans are going to be shocked and surprised by the new Priest album. They'll definitely know it's Judas Priest as soon as they hear it, but it's going to be a positive step forward.
     "True Priest fans should love the new album. Ken, Ian, and I have so much faith in it. I know everyone feels like it's been a long time since anyone's heard from Priest, but I promise, if everyone will only wait a little longer, they will appreciate what we've done."

- Glenn Tipton, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, 1996

The members and management knew they had a potent product and a renewed commitment, thanks in part to Ripper Owens, so the next move was to find a new label to sign with. The band had already formed their own label, Priest Music, but needed international deals to get the new music out around the world. The music scene being as it was at the time, it was decided that a major label would not be to the band's advantage, as the support for heavy metal would not be there, so international support would come in the form of three independent labels who specialized in reviving displaced major label heavy metal acts: Zero Corporation in Japan, who carried Riot and others, Steamhammer/SPV in Europe, who carried Dio and others and CMC International in the US, who carried Iron Maiden and others at the time:

Promo picture of the Priest/Steamhammer deal

     "Judas Priest were looking at smaller independent labels who specialised in metal at the time which is why we went with CMC in the U.S., SPV for Europe and Zero in Japan..."
- Jayne Andrews, Management Co-ordinator for Judas Priest,
March 15, 2004

     "The reason we changed record companies is that ourselves and Sony sort of fell out of love with each other. We’ve been together for a long time, so while the band was dormant, we used the opportunity to negotiate a release. We said, 'Look, it’s no good falling out. It’s no good. We don’t want to be with you, and you don’t particularly understand the band anymore. But we do owe you the back catalog, so we want it to be amicable. Let’s just go our own way.' And they were great. They said that was fine, and they understood. Then we formed our own record company, Priest Music, and under that umbrella we marketed to territories throughout the world - CMC in the States, SPV in Europe, Zero in Japan - all companies that really understand the band, and all companies that we’ve got the greatest respect for. These are companies that understand Priest music, and know how to get it across to the kids. We needed that control, really. In the past, you get companies like Gull and RCA, and they are re-releasing, and rehashing the first two Priest Albums, you know. The Best Of…, or The Priest Collection, or another album with silly interviews with ex-drummers, that really are just a big con. The kids think they’re getting extra tracks, and they’re not. And we have no control over that. So it was very important for us to try to maintain a relationship with Sony/Columbia so they don’t do that. And they’ve been great. They are just about to release another album (The Best Of Judas Priest: Living After Midnight), but I think it’s a valuable album. It’s not rehashed. There’s no con in there. And from this point on, with Priest Music, we can totally control what goes out and that’s what we’ve always wanted, because the last thing we want is our name on an album that really is a bit of a joke, you know. We take our music serious. We’re proud of it, and we want to look after the back catalog so… It was for all those reasons we’ve done it, and I think it was a good… well, I know it was the best move we’ve ever made. "
- Glenn Tipton, October 3, 1997

     "Our contract with CMC International is for three albums, I think. Three albums or three years, something like that. It was worked out with our manager, but I think we owe ‘em three albums."
- Ian Hill, Prime-Choice, January 21, 1998

Also, having their own Priest Music label meant the opportunity to release rare material and special projects. K.K. even told Detritus magazine on November 20, 1997 that the band had planned on doing a remake of "Exciter" and "Jawbreaker", plus a couple others that month for a possible EP and as bonus tracks for the Japan release of JUGULATOR:

     "We've got a meeting today with this guy from Japan. He's encouraging us to do totally re-recorded versions of some of our songs and some as instrumentals. We've formed our own label, Priest Music. You may well see some of that soon."
- Glenn Tipton, Hard Radio, 1997

In the end, two re-recorded songs did make it to the B-side of the Bullet Train single: "Rapid Fire" and "Green Manalishi".

Although a new record deal was settled, there was still a lot of time-consuming publicity work to be done to get the name of Judas Priest back onto the scene and into the awareness of the fans before the album could be launched:

     "Obviously we're a bit frustrated at the moment. It's not negativity. It's just that we feel we've got such a strong album with such strong material and such a great vocalist, but obviously we've been very methodical and particular, trying to make it as good as it can be. It's just a matter of fact and these things take time. All the recording's done and finished. In addition to that, we have done various interviews and record companies have been over and we've had playbacks in the studio. We're doing all these minor interruptions - photo sessions, meetings with people about videos for the album, stage clothes, all that sort of stuff. As I said, it can be kind of frustrating. We just want to get it out there because we know how good it is."
- K.K. Downing, 1997

CMC International did get free pre-release promo cassettes of "Bullet Train" out to industry personnel and the Judas Priest website had mp3 samples of "Blood Stained" and "Bullet Train" available for fans to catch a glimpse of the new era to come!

Finally, in October of '97, the first Judas Priest record in seven years hit the shelves:
     "JUGULATOR was obviously met with apprehension, especially as we had just taken Ripper on board, and everyone needed proof that the band was as good, if not better than ever, onstage. The JUGULATOR tour and the new live album MELTDOWN proved just that. Ripper was totally accepted by the fans. He has a great character and his ability is phenomenal. Finding him was nothing short of a miracle. I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed playing on stage as much as I did on the last tour. The reaction and reviews worldwide were fantastic and the combination of old and new classics that we performed was incredibly
emotional. The energy and enthusiasm of the band and the audience was the most intense that I have ever experienced.
     "Although it took a little while, nearly everyone now loves JUGULATOR and understands what we were trying to do at that point in time. Yes it is brutal because we felt brutal, but I'm proud of it and it will always be a worthy chapter in our career, having its' own unique character just like every other one of our albums, but still being unmistakable Judas Priest. Tracks like 'Burn In Hell', 'Cathedral Spires' and 'Blood Stained' have already established themselves as Priest classics, and when Ripper points that microphone towards the audience, everyone sings along together in one almighty voice!"

- Glenn Tipton, Judas Priest site, January 6, 2000

In spite of mixed reactions from the fans, the album did fairly well, even nabbing a Grammy nomination for the single "Bullet Train"!



     "I must admit, when JUGULATOR came out, I thought, 'Well, that's it, then. They're working with Tim, they're making music, and they're touring. Maybe we've gone too far, and now a reunion's not going to happen.' "
- Rob Halford, Revolver, August 2004


Jugulator Blood Stained Dead Meat Death Row Decapitate Burn In Hell  Brain Dead
Abductors Bullet Train Cathedral Spires

     "Ken and I have never gotten along better. We're closer than we've ever been and writing the new Priest album has been great. Just like everyone else, we've had our share of conflicts. When you have two headstrong guys like Ken and I, and you're cramped
together on a bus, it's going to happen. But we've always been able to bury the hatchet and move on. we're too similar to let it become a real problem. We've put the energy of the fiery relationship we have into writing the new album."

- Glenn Tipton, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, 1996

1. Jugulator
Lead: 1st lead: Glenn; 2nd lead: KK

     "You won't want to meet this character in a dark alley. He rips spines out. The album goes on from there. It's very '97 and very brutal. It's the heaviest thing we've done in years. Everybody's going to love it."
- Glenn Tipton, Hard Radio, 1997

Now let's see what you're made of
He is coming, you can't run
Violators that get caught
Will wish that they'd never been born

You are dead (Mutilate)

Sharpened razor
Takes your head

Predit hater
You are trapped (Decimate)

Your neck snapped

Jugulator he is near
Attracted by the stench of fear
Part demonic part machine
Hungry and it's time to feed

Iron claws and fangs of steel
Dripping from his tasty meal
Now it's time to jugulate
Feel your skull disintegrate

Jugulator killing time now
Reaches in and rips your spine out

Big mistake (Mutilate)

Rib cage break

Flesh and bones
Are massacred


2. Blood Stained
Lead: 1st lead: Glenn (riffs KK); 2nd lead: KK (riffs Glenn); whammy before final verse: KK
Performed live in: 1998, 2001-2002
Available live versions:
 '98 Live Meltdown; LIVE IN LONDON (Video 2002, audio 2003)

This song appeared in the BRIDE OF CHUCKY film soundtrack.
     "For me, a song that pushes the boundaries of my voice would be (and I'm gonna pick a new one because it shows every singing style possible - it shows classic Priest and then my style) 'Bloodstained' off of Jugulator. It has the falsettos, the really heavy vocals, and then it has the melodic, pretty stuff in the middle. So, it's got all of these huge ranges where there's a voice and there's almost like a death metal voice, way underneath that you can hear, and it doesn't even sound like the same person.
- Ripper Owens,
Metal Update, January 23, 2002

Made every day

Their sins
They hide
Can never disguise

Blood stained hands
Blood stained times
Blood stained deeds
Blood stained lies

They wage their wars
Such profiteers
Will nail us all

Their crimes
Despicably reveal

Blood stained hands
Blood stained times
Blood stained weapons
Blood stained lies

They fire at will
Intent to kill
They have no conscience
They have no conscience

Ethnic cleansing nothing more!
Blood of nations blood of war

Turn blind eyes
From all your crimes
You bare our souls
Show no remorse
You cannot wash
The bloodstains off

They turn their backs
While others
Commit grisly acts

We're scared
For life
By politicians' greedy

Blood stained hands
Blood stained times
Blood stained weapons
Blood stained crimes
Blood stained lands
Blood stained minds
Blood stained deeds
Blood stained lies

And while such predators
Stalk this earth
Disguised as saints
They kill our faith

Obsessed by greed
Lying through their teeth
They cannot wash
The blood stains off

3. Dead Meat
Lead: intro riff: KK (harmonics Glenn); lead: Glenn

The hangman's noose won't get me
Gas chambers never stress me
The can line me up against the wall

No firing squad will make me
Confess or even break me
I'll stand alone or not at all

I will not obey
I will not betray
I will not give in
Not while I'm living

No surrender
We never will surrender

We are all dead meat
Cut us, watch us bleed

No shackles made will chain me
No endless pain will change me
The scars will testify this all

No solitary confinement
Will break my strong resignment
I'll die before I will conform

No surrender
There'll never be surrender

We are all dead meat
Cut us, watch us bleed

Read in my obituary
Defiance breeds victory

No cage they make can hold me
No law enforced controls me
No trap that's sprung stops me for long

No prison cell contains me
No snare they set will claim me
Relentlessly I'll fight them all

No surrender
We never will
Be driven asunder
No surrender
We never will
Raise the white flag

Will never
Suppress me
They're seriously mistaken
Cause I'll take them
Down with me
And just before they're finished
They'll scream along with me

We are all dead meat

4. Death Row

Lead: Glenn
Performed live in: 1998
Available live versions:
 '98 Live Meltdown

Let me out
Sorry son
Commit a crime - pay the price
Death row - What's that - 'No stay?'
Oh! Ok I'll tell him
Dead man walking

We've all been detained
For the crimes we've committed
They stayed execution
But we'll never get acquitted
Waiting for the day when they strap us in
And when they pull the lever
Hear the goddamn screams
Shake with fear
Electric chair

We're all inside
Homocide related
They'll show no mercy
And we don't anticipate it
We move a little closer
Every day to meet our maker
They cover up our face
And then they close the circuit breaker
Oh! No!

Shake with fear
Your time draws near

Oh! No! - I won't go
You'll never get me down to
Death row

Oh come on man
Give me a break
I made one mistake, that's all it takes
I ain't that bad
I ain't done nothing wrong

Shake with fear
The end is near

Oh! No! - I won't go
You'll never get me down to Death row
Oh! No! - They're taking me slow
One way ticket to Death row

So what's the matter son
Too young to die
Take it like a man
Don't cry Ah! Ah!


Oh! No! - I won't go
You'll never get me down to
Death row
Say a prayer, best beware
It's not very nice in the electric chair
Oh! No! - I won't go
You'll never get me down
To Death row

Oh! No! - They're taking me
A one way ticket to
Death row

5. Decapitate
Lead: intro: Glenn & KK harmonizing together; lead: Glenn

Your head
You will lose it

When executed

You always thought
You'd never get caught

Sealing your fate

Futile efforts

Are quelled
With effective measures

The sentence is read
Word that you dread

Walk through Hell's gate

You've lost your head sir
Well you will tomorrow - sleep well

This court's
Best deterrent

To set
New precendents

The verdict of course
Couldn't be worse

Example be made

Will seal your fate

6. Burn In Hell

Lead: Glenn (with KK whammy)
Performed live in: 1998, 2001-2002
Available live versions:
 '98 Live Meltdown; LIVE IN LONDON (Video 2002, audio 2003)

Speak to me
Of those days I won't forget
Your worst dreams
Has just returned - to pay you back
I'm still laughing
There's not much else I can do
But one's thing's certain
I'm coming back for you

Have you got a gun
Do you remember well
Who you used it on
It's time to burn in Hell

Say my name
I can hear you whisper
Not to blame?
You are going to blister
Scream in the night
I've been counting the days
It's so amusing
To see you again

Have you got a gun
Do you remember well
Who d'ya use it on
You're going to burn in Hell

Time to pay the price

I will
Have my sacrifice

With fear
I am getting near

Time to eat some fire

Burn in Hell
Burn in Hell

Snarl like a dog
You'll scream like a banshee
Stuck like a hog
You're gonna love me

Burn in Hell
I can hear you whisper
Burn in Hell
You are going to blister
Burn in Hell
Screaming like a banshee
Burn in Hell

7. Brain Dead

Lead: intro riff: Glenn; lead: split into 4 parts - KK/Glenn/KK/Glenn

Turn me off
Pull the plug
Leave me with some dignity

I am not
What I was
And I don't need the sympathy

Alive inside me
No one can hear me

Brain dead
I'm not
Brain dead

In my shell
Enduring every
Endless day

On my back
Aware of everything
They say

Extricate me
Eliminate me

Brain dead
I'm not
Brain dead
Drip fed

I can't blink my eye or cry
Or even speak
They crowd around my bed
Condescending words are said
Thinking I don't hear or know
What is going on - Hello!
Can't you suckers hear my cries
From inside I'm still alive
It's my decision to abort
Turn off the goddamn life support

Let me pass
From this world
So I fade away in peace


We all have sympathy for those left to care and despair for victims of tragedy, but what of the victim himself - trapped inside his body, a coffin - unable to move a muscle or blink an eye, but aware of the living hell he's enduring and unable to bring it to an end - a man not even a shadow of his former self - a man who wants to be remembered for what he was - not forgotten because of what he's become.

8. Abductors

Lead: 1st lead: KK; 2nd lead: split into 3 parts - KK/Glenn/Glenn & KK harmonizing together
Performed live in: 1998
Available live versions:
 '98 Live Meltdown

Abductors - they come at night

They come at night and they infiltrate you
They paralyse and they mentally rape you
Expressionless they disintegrate you
The probe your soul and desecrate you

Abductors - will bleed your mind
Abductors - cutting inside
They come for you in the night

They strap you in-struments laid before you
And powerless begin to explore you
You scream in pain but they just ignore you
The bring machines and they drill and bore you

Abductors - cutting inside
Abductors - drinking your mind

No-one believes that you
Were chosen from few
Defiled and abused
By alien rituals

You wake in fright there in your room
You better hope your memory fails you
A lower form of life to them
Just one more blood experiment

They send you back and disorientate you
A lesser race they discriminate you
Whatever said will incriminate you
No-one believes

The sceptics laugh and annihilate you
They dig you out and they excavate you
Authority and even God forsakes you
No-one believes

Hey maybe I am just a liar

9. Bullet Train
Lead: split into 4 parts - KK/Glenn/KK/Glenn
Performed live in: 1998
Available live versions:
 '98 Live Meltdown

Sunrise showing every flaw
Paying for the night before
Dark eyes, scanning every vein
Exploding - cannot stand the strain

With each new mile (They death defy me)
Standing on trial (Scrutinize me)
(And questionize my
Strong denial)

(Bullet) bullet train
Piercing through my brain

Windows illuminating stains
Breakdown closing in again
Freefall as I close my eyes
Voices talking many lies

Changing my course (Blurred and scorched)
Breathing exhaust (As we distort)
(By gravity
Of such G-force)

Breakdown close my eyes
Voices talking many lies
Stained glass bursting in
Shattering my world again
Freefall but never can
Ever reach the ground again
Dark eyes scanning in
Feel my mind explode within

Wanting much more (I implore you)
Near to death's door (To ignore)
(The screams of all
Who fall before)


10. Cathedral Spires

split - Glenn/KK
     "I'd like to do 'Cathedral Spires' - a lot of harmonies there. That would be fun to do night after night, wouldn't it?"
- Ripper Owens, Metal Edge, September 2002

     "Right now we can't  do 'Cathedral Spires' live. The song is tuned down to maybe 'C'. And, obviously, there are some notes at the end of the song that I couldn't hit all of the time. There's some notes - I always call it my black lady wail, 'cause you can just hear that big, fat, black lady wailing away on that high note. I always tell my wife that that is a hard one to hit. We play tuned down to 'D' in concert. People wonder why we tune the old songs down, well here's the reason: We try to play everything in the same tune. It helps out with some of the old songs, 'cause they sound heavier. But, unfortunately, some of the new songs are tuned up. 'Cathedral Spires' would have to come up to 'D', and there's just no way I can do that. We'd have to use different guitars or something. I could probably do 'Cathedral Spires' live, but it is tough.
     "I have to watch the note at the end of 'Victim of Changes'. I hold that note out really long live. I try to hold and hold it, and sometimes my voice just cracks. Nothing you can do, sometimes it just cracks."

- Ripper Owens,
Metal Update, January 23, 2002

They have blown away the daylight hours we had
Left a leagcy, a deadly aftermath
We cannot exist in godforsaken lands
As we spiral down into oblivion
Breathing the fumes of fires that they ignite
Losing ground and we are all just losing sight
We shall never see another setting sun
Time to rise up and ascend, the end has come

No more willpower
Choked by hell fire

Darkness above
Blackening out the sun

Gripped by steel claws
Corrosion eating us

So before we're all devoured
Time to rise up and retire
In cathedral spires
Watching as the world expires
From up amongst the clouds
In cathedral spires

No names
No graves

No prayers
Can save us

Ashes to dust
Doomsday's upon us now

It cannot be stopped
Genocide all is lost

Oh! We're so tired
Time to rise up and conspire
(In cathedral spires)
Watching as our world expires
From up above the clouds
In cathedral spires

Jaws of corruption
Swallow us as one
Consuming every nation
Evoke resistance getting none
Complete disintegration
No good to defend
There can be but one outcome
We are no more - ascend

Vaporized fury
Offers no sanctuary

All songs published by EMI Songs Ltd.
Lyrics to all songs by Glenn Tipton


1998 Tour Program

Ripper Owens - v, Glenn Tipton - g, K.K. Downing - g, Ian Hill - b, Scott Travis - d

Tour Manager: Al Dutton
Production Manager: Ian Day


     "For us, our second home is on stage. We really have missed the stage. We can't wait. Now with this new guy in the band we're anxious to show him off. We could play anywhere - small clubs, theaters or auditoriums. I really, really think people are ready for some new Priest."
- Glenn Tipton, Hard Radio, 1997

     "We're planning to return to the big stage shows of yore - Spinal Tap, here we come!"
- K.K. Downing, Detritus, November 20, 1997

JUGULATOR debuted well in Japan, Germany, and the U.K., but  the band really had its work cut out to re-establish itself in the States. With an official band website online, the internet played a big role in helping get things promoted, but it would be touring again that would really get the fans back in the fold. K.K. even envisioned having Priest headline a heavy metal tour extravaganza in the States, with another major classic metal band or two in the package.

On November 20. 1997, K.K. Downing revealed to Detritus magazine the band's "tentative set list" they had been rehearsing for the upcoming JUGULATOR world tour. K.K. said their goal was to come up with 30+ songs to learn, and then it would be trimmed to a workable number. Here's what he had so far:

Painkiller / You've Got Another Thing Coming / The Ripper / Sinner/ Victim Of Changes / Electric Eye / A Touch Of Evil / Grinder / Beyond The Realms Of Death / Breaking The Law / The Green Manalishi / Living After Midnight / Jugulator / Burn In Hell / Bullet Train / Night Crawler / Death Row / Metal Gods / Bloodstone / Hell Bent For Leather / Desert Plains / Ram It Down / Devil's Child / Exciter / Diamonds And Rust / Dreamer Deceiver / All Guns Blazing / Dead Meat / Heading Out To The Highway / Jawbreaker / Between The Hammer & The Anvil / Freewheel Burning / Hell Patrol / The Sentinel

     "There’ll be a cross-section of old songs and new ones. It’s difficult to know how far back to go, but we’ll be playing some of the older classics. Y’know, 'Victim Of Changes'; we’d probably get lynched if we didn’t play that, probably. So that’s one of the older ones, one of the old classics that we’re always probably gonna have to do, right up to - I think we do three, maybe four, off the new album. There’s two or three off Painkiller. And, like I say, there’s a spectrum for the new albums, too. But there is a lot of quality in the old classics. We enjoy playing them as much as we hope people enjoy listening to it still. ‘Cause we’ve got a lot of old fans there as well that we need to please, as well as ourselves, so we have to consider that some of the fans are as old as we are, and that’s the stuff that they know us for, so there will always be the old classics in there. We get a great kick out of playing all the old stuff! When we first got together to rehearse the tour, we started playing all these old songs for the first time in seven years. There was a huge grin on everybody’s face. It was a great feeling, it was magic. We play for the fans, as well as for ourselves!"
- Ian Hill, Prime-Choice, January 21, 1998

Finally, the list was narrowed down and this is what was played on the tour:

SETLIST (Orange titles are from the current album)

From the February 4 Poughkeepsie show
Hellion/Electric Eye
Metal Gods
Blood Stained
The Sentinel
A Touch of Evil
Burn in Hell
The Ripper
Bullet Train
Beyond the Realms of Death
Metal Meltdown
Night Crawler
Victim Of Changes
The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)
You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Breaking The Law
Hell Bent For Leather
Living After Midnight

From the April 16 Fürth, Germany show:
The Hellion/Electric Eye
Metal Gods
Blood Stained
The Sentinel
A Touch Of Evil
Burn In Hell
The Ripper
Bullet Train
Beyond The Realms Of Death
Death Row
Night Crawler
Victim Of Changes
Breaking The Law
The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)
You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Hell Bent For Leather
Living After Midnight

From the October 24 House Of Blues show:
The Hellion/Electric Eye
Metal Gods
Rapid Fire
Blood Stained
The Sentinel
A Touch Of Evil
Burn in Hell
The Ripper
Beyond The Realms Of Death
Night Crawler
Diamonds And Rust (New acoustic/electric version)
Victim of Changes
Breaking The Law
The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)
You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Hell Bent For Leather
Living After Midnight

North American tour with support from Cage and Kilgore Sludge
     "This first leg of the tour, we’re doing the smaller places. We need to get our feet wet again, we need to play in Tim, and we think that trying to do the larger auditoriums might be a bit of a mistake this time ‘round. So, we’ve kept it small, and we do plan to come back in the summer and do the larger venues, depending on the success of this first leg. I’m sure it’ll be successful; we’re all very confident. But it is more of a 'getting your feet wet', warming-up type of tour.
     "The plan is, we’re gonna tour as long as we can this year; we set this year aside for touring. The important thing is, we plan to continue now. We’ll finish the tour... whenever. We’ll just keep on plodding on this year until we drop, and then start working on another one..."

- Ian Hill, Prime-Choice, January 21, 1998
January 30 Boathouse Norfolk, VA USA Bootleg audio exists
Ripper's first show
January 31 Grady Cole Charlotte, NC USA Bootleg audio exists
February 2 9:30 Club Washington, DC USA Bootleg video exists
February 3 Avalon Ballroom Boston, MA USA Bootleg audio exists
February 4 The Chance Poughkeepsie, NY USA
February 6 Roseland New York, NY USA Bootleg audio exists
February 7 Electric Factory Ballroom Philadelphia, PA USA
February 8 Metropol Pittsburgh, PA USA Bootleg video exists
February 10 State Theater Kalamazoo, MI USA
February 11 RPM Warehouse Toronto Canada Bootleg audio exists
February 13 State Theater Detroit, MI USA Bootleg audio exists
February 14 Newport Music Hall Columbus, OH USA
February 15 Agora Metropolitan Theater Cleveland, OH USA Bootleg audio exists
     "Cleveland was definitely the best part of the tour just for the fact that my family and friends were there, the MTV thing being done there, along with magazines like GQ and Details, and it being Cleveland - it being sold out, blowing my daughter a kiss during the show and seeing her fall asleep!"
- Ripper Owens, Ohio Scene, 1998
February 17 Brewery Louisville, KY USA
February 18 Egyptian Room Indianapolis, IN USA
February 19 House Of Blues Chicago, IL USA
February 20 Modjeska Milwaukee, WI USA Bootleg audio exists
February 23 Rage Vancouver Canada With support from Jar
February 24 Roseland Theatre Portland, OR USA
February 26 Stockton Civic Center Stockton, CA USA
February 28 Warfield San Francisco, CA USA
March 1 Universal Amphitheater Los Angeles, CA USA
March 2 4th & B San Diego, CA USA Bootleg audio exists
European tour with support from Gorefest
March 18 E-Werk, pre-production Cologne Germany  
March 19 E-Werk Cologne Germany  
March 20 Stadthalle Grosse-Umstadt Germany  
March 22 Congress B Stuttgart Germany  
March 23 Prinz Garden or Zurich Volkshaus Augsburg Germany  
March 24 Stadthalle Memmingen Germany  
March 26 Kurhalle Vienna Austria  
March 27 Sports Hall Zilina Slovakia Bootleg audio exists
March 28 Spodek Katowice Poland  
March 29 Small Sports Hall Prague Czech Republic  
On the JUGULATOR tour, Priest were able to play several Eastern bloc countries for the first time in their career. Their last tour was the PAINKILLER, which ended in 1991, just after the Berlin Wall fell...
     "We could go and play 5 to 6 weeks in Russia alone. People talk about metal being dead - it's absolutely crazy when you think about it."
- K.K. Downing, Goldmine Magazine, June 5, 1998
March 31 Eissporthalle Halle Germany  
April 1 Arena Berlin Germany Bootleg video exists
April 2 Docks Club Hamburg Germany Broadcast video exists
April 3 Vega Copenhagen Denmark Bootleg audio exists
April 5 Grugahalle Essen Germany  
April 6 Music Hall Hannover Germany  
April 8 Ancienne Belgique Brussels Belgium Bootleg video exists

"We were playing in Brussels, and Glenn got hit with a flying cup of beer - a giant cup of beer. It was one of the shows we were recording for the live record. I see this big beer come flying through the air and he's just going to start 'Blood Stained', at the beginning where he plays all by himself, and the beer just hits him in the chest and everything just shuts off! It was just the funniest thing you know?"
- Ripper Owens, UK Rock Net, 2001
April 9 Ijsselhal Zwolle Holland Bootleg audio exists
April 11 Astoria London England Bootleg video exists

Posing at their London Hotel
April 12 Civic Hall Wolverhampton England Bootleg audio exists
April 14 Le Zénith Paris France Bootleg audio and video exists

Live in Paris
April 15 F. Ebert Halle Ludwigshafen Germany  
April 16 Stadhalle Furth Germany Bootleg audio exists
April 17 Colosseum Munich Germany Bootleg audio exists
April 19 Palacquatica Milan Italy Bootleg audio exists
April 20 Hafen Innsbruck Austria  
April 21 Volkshaus Zurich Switzerland Bootleg audio exists
April 23 Valle Helbron Barcelona Spain  
April 24 Sports Palace Madrid Spain Bootleg audio exists
April 25 Velodromo San Sebastian Spain  
April 26 TBA Zaragoza Spain  
April 28 Cascais Pavilion Lisbon Portugal  
Japan tour
     "The Japanese tour is already sold out. It's only been on sale for two weeks, and we're not going over there for another three months. In Europe, we've sold more albums than PAINKILLER. So when you consider there's no single on this album, it's total heavy metal, we've been away for eight years, we've got new blood..., it's just phenomenal, you know."
- Glenn Tipton, Goldmine Magazine, June 5, 1998
May 13 Shibuya Public Hall Tokyo Japan Bootleg audio exists
May 14
May 16 Diamond Hall Nagoya Japan Bootleg audio exists
May 17 Skala Espacio Fukuoka Japan Bootleg audio exists
May 18 Koseinenkin Hall Nagoya Japan Bootleg audio exists
May 20 U-port Tokyo Japan Bootleg audio exists
Mexico tour with support from Megadeth
September 17 Palacio De Los Deportes Mexico City Mexico  
September 19 Auditorio Coca-Cola Monterrey Mexico  
US tour in support of '98 LIVE MELTDOWN with support from Moon Dog Mane
September 22 Rockin' Rodeo Bakersfield, CA USA  
September 23 4th And B, San Diego, CA   USA  
September 24 Galaxy Theatre, Santa Ana, CA   USA  
September 26 Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, AZ
(with Floatsam & Jetsam)
September 27 House Of Blues, Los Angeles, CA   USA  
September 28
September 29 The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, NV   USA '98 LIVE MELTDOWN release date
September 30 Midnight Rodeo, Albuquerque, NM   USA  
October 6 Ariel Theatre, Houston, TX   USA  
October 7 Far West Rodeo, San Antonio, TX   USA  
October 8 Buckets Sports Bar, Corpus Christi, TX   USA  
October 10 The New Roadhouse, San Benito, TX   USA  
October 11 Midnight Rodeo, Waco, TX   USA  
October 13 Midnight Rodeo, Amarillo, TX   USA  
October 14 Ruby's Roadhouse, Lubbock, TX   USA  
October 15 The Caravan Of Dreams, Ft. Worth, TX   USA  
October 16 Mailibu Alley, Shreveport, LA   USA  
October 17 Joe's Big Bam Boo, Little Rock, AK   USA  
October 19 House Of Blues, New Orleans, LA   USA  
October 20 House Of Blues, Orlando, FL   USA Bootleg audio exists
October 21 The Button South, Ft. Launderdale, FL   USA Bootleg audio exists
October 23 The Masquerade, Atlanta, GA   USA Bootleg audio exists
October 24 House Of Blues, Myrtle Beach, SC   USA  
October 26 Agora Theatre, Cleveland, OH   USA Bootleg audio exists
October 27 Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH   USA Bootleg audio and video exists
October 28 House Of Blues, Chicago, IL   USA  
October 30 Calvin Theatre, Northampton, MA   USA  
October 31 Hammerstein, New York, NY   USA Bootleg audio and video exists

© 2002-2003
Steel & Leather Productions, U.S.A.