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November 1988 Early/Mid 1989 Mid/Late 1989 Early 1990 July 1990
September 1990 Keynote Address Hair Metal

1990 1991


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     "PAINKILLER became a defining moment. We set ourselves a challenge to make the consummate heavy metal album and that's exactly what we achieved."
- Rob Halford, Metal Hammer, January 2004

     "We want people to view this record as a source of entertainment and a source of relief and, to some extent, therapy, in that there's a great deal of opportunity to release a lot of anxiety."
- Rob Halford, Toronto, 1990


Judas Priest L-R:
K.K. Downing: Guitars
Ian Hill: Bass Guitar
Robert Halford: Vocals
Scott Travis: Drums
Glenn Tipton: Guitars

Don Airey provides keyboards, but is not credited on the album

Management by Bill Curbishley (Trinifold Management Limited - UK and Europe/Left Field Services - U.S.A.)
Co-ordination: Jayne Andrews


Painkiller Hell Patrol All Guns Blazing Leather Rebel
Metal Meltdown
Night Crawler
Between The Hammer & The Anvil A Touch Of Evil
Battle Hymn One Shot At Glory

RE-MASTERS Series Bonus tracks:
Living Bad Dreams Leather Rebel (Live)

  • Released September 3, 1990 by CBS Records Inc. (UK Cat. # 467290), and September 18, 1990 by Columbia Records (US Cat. # 46891)

  • THE RE-MASTERS UK/European CD released February 21, 2002 by Sony Music/Columbia Records (UK Cat. # 502139)
  • THE RE-MASTERS North American CD March 19, 2002 by Sony Music/Legacy Records (US Cat. # CK 86382)

Produced by Chris Tsangarides and Judas Priest
Engineered by Attie Bauw and Patrice Rouillon Tsernsoff De Gironville
Equipment Manager: Tom Calcaterra
Recorded early 1990 at Miraval Studios, Brignoles, France; recorded and mixed at Wisseloord Studios, Hilversum, Holland by Glenn Tipton, Rob Halford, K.K. Downing and Chris Tsangarides
Mastered at the Townhouse Studios, London, England

Certification: RIAA Gold January 2, 1991
Chart position:
UK #24; Billboard 200 (USA) #26; NEW ZEALAND: 27 SWEDEN: 19 SWITZERLAND: 14
Painkiller: UK singles #74
A Touch Of Evil:
Billboard Top Mainstream Rock Single #29
The album received a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance at the February 20, 1991 33rd Annual Grammy Awards


  • Painkiller/United released in 1990 by CBS Records (UK Cat. # 6562737)

  • A Touch Of Evil/Night Crawler released in 1990 by Columbia Records (UK Cat. # XPR 1615)

  • A Touch Of Evil/Between The Hammer & The Anvil released in 1991 by Columbia Records (HOL Cat. # 6565897)

  • A Touch Of Evil (edit)/A Touch Of Evil released in 1990 by Columbia Records (US Cat.# CSK 2218 promo only)

  • Night Crawler (edit)/Breaking The Law (PRIEST...LIVE!)/Living After Midnight (PRIEST...LIVE!) special limited numbered edition released in 1993 by Columbia Records (UK Cat. # 659097)

  • Night Crawler (edit)/Night Crawler (included a bag of "Night Crawler glow-in-the-dark rubber worms) released in 1991 by Columbia Records (US Cat. # CSK 8030 promo only)


Cover design based on an original concept by Judas Priest
Illustration by Mark Wilkinson
Graphics by Pencock Marketing and Design
Photographs: Joe Giron, Ray Palmer and Mark Weiss

As mankind hurled itself forever downwards into the bottomless pit of eternal chaos, the remnants of civilisation screamed out for salvation - redemption roared across the burning sky... the Painkiller!


For PAINKILLER, it was the members of Judas Priest who developed the cover design concept. Freelance illustrator Mark Wilkinson was once again called in for the airbrush work, having done the well received RAM IT DOWN cover.

     "The idea was from the Sad Wings album cover. I approached the band with the idea that, 'How would that angel in hell look like now in the future, robotic, riding a bike?' It's all about floating ideas, and it worked."
· Rob Halford, online chat, November 16, 2002

     "I think the basic concept came out of conversations that we all had about taking the concept of an angel from the Sad Wings Of Destiny cover in a Robo Cop type of mode. We put all this armor and stuff on it but it still had the wings - but they were made of steel and everything, and then we thought about the motorcycle that we always use and thought about making that into something unusual, like a man-machine kind of animal thing and then the dragon-bike developed out of that and all of these things came together."
- Rob Halford on Metal Shop, 1990

     "It's a typical fantasy Priest character, you don't know whether it's from heaven or hell but you do know you wouldn't like to meet him on a dark night or to upset him. We did feel that maybe we'd over-used that type of image, but itıs sort of expected from us. And itıs just a bit of fun really."
- Glenn Tipton,
The Masque

     "The band originally suggested a Hell's Angel-type character on a motorcycle, but also with a metallic creature. My recollection is that he would have been a pillion rider, or maybe even made into part of the bike. Eventually, I had the idea of flipping the idea on its head and having the metal creature sitting on the bike; making the bike the living creature instead. And the chainsaw idea came to me because my studio at the time was above a hardware shop!"
- Mark Wilkinson, The Masque


  • Painkiller

  • A Touch Of Evil

Director: Wayne Isham

     "As there were no commercial songs as such, we decided to go for the throat with the intensely powerful 'Painkiller' and the epic 'A Touch Of Evil'."
- Painkiller Re-Master liner note, 2002

The "Painkiller" video made it's debut September 22 on MTV's HEADBANGER'S BALL.

     "The 'Painkiller' video clip is the fastest, most striking visual piece ever for heavy metal."
- Rob Halford, Billboard, November 3, 1990

Painkiller video promo

The promo video for "A Touch Of Evil" was filmed on August 20, 1990 at S.I.R. Studios in New York right after the Reno hearings ended to await the Judge's decision. Rob Halford even took a break on the night of the video shoot to do an interview on Rockline, where the Metal God talked about the trial and Priest's stand for the faith and rights of heavy metal! The promo premiered in mid October.

Both promos were released on a special limited run home video:

1991 Sony Music Entertainment/
SMV Enterprises (Cat. # 49904 2)

Locked In
Love Bites
Hot Rockin'
You've Got Another Thing Comin' (Live)
Breaking The Law
Living After Midnight
Freewheel Burning
A Touch Of Evil

The videos also appeared on OPERATION ROCK & ROLL VHS and Laser Disc (Cat. # ESLU 100)
1991 Sony Music Entertainment/SMV Enterprises

This collection featured the second version of the "Painkiller" video, which adds colorized scenes of head-banging teens stuck on a freeway in rush-hour traffic, jamming to the song as it blasts from their car stereo.

Both videos are currently available on the ELECTRIC EYE DVD 2003 Sony Music Entertainment/Columbia Music Video (UK Cat. # 2021939, US Cat. # CVD 51411)


  • Hell Bent For Lead Licks: Published by Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation. ISBN 0-7935-0257-8


  • Metal Cuts, Easy Guitar: 1990. Published by Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation. HL00660095


  • Painkiller: 1991. Published by Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation. ISBN 0-7935-0340-X

NOVEMBER 1988: Storm warning, but there's no fear...

The first sign of storm clouds loomed over the horizon near the end of the RAM IT DOWN/Mercenaries Of Metal tour in late fall of 1988, when, along with CBS Records, the members of Judas Priest were accused of having been the cause of the suicide deaths of two young fans. The charges were disturbing to the band, yet the members soldiered on until the case went to trial a year-and-a-half later...

     "Well I guess I am a bit worried about the court case, it is definitely going to hold us from recording anything here any time soon, and Dave has been getting pretty weird on what he is playing and how he has been acting."
- K.K. Downing, Metal Edge, 1988

EARLY/MID 1989: Dave Holland and Tom Allom leave; Enter Scott Travis

From 1979 to 1989, Priest had avoided their Spinal Tap-like revolving door drummer syndrome, but after completing the tour and a decade of the most prosperous years for Priest, things were getting weird concerning Dave Holland, and not just because of the suicide accusations and upcoming trial: Dave was also facing road and studio-fatigue, as well as a couple of family illnesses:

     "Dave Holland was the fellow before Scott, he left for personal family reasons. He could not carry on. He had some tragic happenings with his family and could not afford the time away from them. It was sad when he had to go."
- Ian Hill, Classic Rock Revisited, July 1999

     "Dave left Priest in 1989 after the Ram IT DOWN tour because his father died and his sister went ill just before Priest were going in the studio to record the PAINKILLER album. The pressure on Dave was too much in that situation, so he left."
- Al Atkins, 2003

     "It was made plain to us from Dave that he was considering leaving the band because he'd been working with us - not only us, but in music in general - for many, many, many years and he was just finding the whole schedule very physically tiring and wasn't really able to give as much as he wanted to give.
     "I mean the whole thing about Priest is this real commitment to dedication and performance, and it's a pretty grueling thing, tough to go through all these world tours and so forth, and he would quite honestly and open lead me to believe that he felt it was time to step back and say, 'Thank you and it's been great, but goodbye, and I want to do something else.' And that was that, you know - Dave has gone off to do other things. I'm not sure what he's doing musically now, but we left on a very amicable, friendly departure and at that point, it was a case of looking for a suitable replacement."

- Rob Halford, Metal Shop, 1990

For more on Dave Holland, click his picture:

Tom Allom would also not be returning to produce the band's next album, as he had become involved in a joint venture running an independent label and management company (Ice Records, Tattoo Records and Metro Management) with former Priest manager Mike Dolan:

     "I had worked with Mike for years and he needed some help running the label. But I have to say I don’t think we covered ourselves in glory. Running a record label really is digging a hole in the ground, pouring fifty quid notes into it, and petrol on the top, and lighting a match. It is something I would never, ever, ever do again."
- Tom Allom, Music Journal, February 16, 2002

     "We'd made some great albums with Tom Allom, but we'd been looking for other possibilities. That's the role of a producer - to point out something that you might not otherwise have been aware of because you're too close to what you're doing."
- Rob Halford, Metal Hammer, January 2004

Most of the next year was spent resting, writing the PAINKILLER album and searching for a new drummer, not an easy task considering the requirements: The drummer had to be fast and heavy and get along well with the guys. Four candidates made it to the final round, but one emerged as a clear standout, possessing all the qualities that the mighty Priest were looking for:

Born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia and determined to be where the metal action was at, Scott moved out to California in 1983 and joined the glam metal band Hawk with well-known guitar instructor Doug Marks, remaining until 1986, when he joined Paul Gilbert's Racer X, who's singer, Jeff Martin, had been good friends with Rob Halford since the early '80s.

In fact, it was Jeff Martin who would be somewhat responsible for getting Scott into Judas Priest. Wanting to go in a heavier, faster direction, the members of Priest were aware of Scott's abilities, so Rob called his friend Jeff to tell him of their interest. Jeff then called Scott, who located the band's address through another friend and sent them his Racer X albums and a video tape (which was a novel and improved way of advertising for an audition at the time). Scott passed the audition (which was held in a renovated sugar mill in Spain and consisted of three classic Priest numbers) and he and the band hit it off well. Glenn and K.K. could now work on some serious chops and bring the intensity needed to stay fresh in the evolving heavy metal scene. What's interesting though, is that Scott had actually made a previous attempt to join Priest back in 1982 when he first met Glenn during the World Vengeance tour:

     "I had some pictures of my drum set and I wasn't there to just shake their hand - I wanted to be in the fuckin' band! I walked into the bar at the hotel they were staying at, and sure enough Glenn was sitting in the bar area. I went over and said, 'Hey, man, can I have your autograph?' to break the ice, and I pulled out some pictures and he said, 'Nice kit'. The whole thing was ludicrous anyways - I realize that now - but it shows my perseverance and my dedication at the time that nothing was going to deter me. I had to say, 'How do you like playing with Dave Holland?' He said, 'I like playing with him very much.' So at that point, I didn't pursue it - I ended up leaving. But I wanted to make an impression on the band."
Scott Travis, Goldmine magazine, June 5, 1998

     "Scott's always wanted to be in Priest. He was always into the band. We think that's important."
- K.K. Downing, Foundations magazine, September 24, 1990

     "How I got the Priest thing is really a story in itself, because the singer for Racer X, a fellow named Jeff Martin, had been acquaintances with Rob Halford for a number of years; I think they met in Phoenix - Jeff Martin was from Phoenix - so they had met years before Racer X ever materialized; and so Judas Priest was always aware of what Racer X was about and I guess was aware of my ability as a drummer, so when the time came that they were looking for a drummer, they were apparently looking for someone of my style and caliber and Rob in effect called Jeff and asked him what I was doing and if I'd be interested in the gig, so Jeff called me one day really out of the blue and it was a surprise to me, and certainly I said I was interested!"
- Scott Travis

     "We put the word out and said, 'If you're interested, introduce yourself and give it your best shot behind the kit'. We had about 30-50 quality drummers. We had a lot of good stuff in there. We were looking for more than just a good drummer. We were looking for somebody who's got the style we have - somebody who's not just fast, but lays it down, and somebody with a personality we can get along with. We auditioned three drummers finally. Three very good drummers. But they couldn't do the double bass as well as Scott."
- Glenn Tipton, Foundations magazine, September 24, 1990

     "It was very interesting because of where they decided to hold the audition. They were living in Spain at the time, and they apparently rented this other vacant house which used to be a sugar mill."
Scott Travis, Goldmine magazine, June 5, 1998

     "He wasn't too pleased about the fact that there's no phones in Spain. Or 7-11s. But other than that it was great."
Glenn Tipton, Goldmine magazine, June 5, 1998

     "Scott's bass drum technique enabled us to expand the hard edge of metal even further with PAINKILLER. Tracks such as 'Leather Rebel', 'Metal Meltdown', as well as the title track, display a power and intensity that was practically impossible to achieve up until his arrival."
Painkiller Re-Master liner note, 2002

     "I don't think you'll find anybody will knock Dave, but it was time to move on, time to change gear really. And Priest has always been known for people who could handle double kicks. It gave us the ability to do the faster-paced numbers, which is more Priest. With Dave Holland, we wrote the songs around his capabilities. And again, it's no disrespect, because the albums we did were good albums."
Glenn Tipton, Goldmine magazine, June 5, 1998

     "I think people forget how many years Dave was the drummer for Judas Priest. He was the longest standing drummer we had, and you don’t get to be that by playing crap! Dave only left Priest for health reasons; he was in for the long haul. When he left, we evaluated our sound and wanted to move more into some of the double kick type feel and Dave was very much a single bass kind of player. So when that opportunity was afforded, Scott Travis came on board and did some great stuff..."
- Rob Halford, EDGE magazine, May 2003

    "Scott Travis means a lot to Judas Priest - a great deal! I think Painkiller, for me, is as much a drum-album as it is like, a guitar-album or a vocal-album. We made the drums a lead instrument on this record. Without Scott, there's no way Painkiller would have been as powerful or as strong. He has the ability to make something very, very exciting and very explosive with the way he interpreted the songs that we wrote.
     "It doesn't matter to me that Scott's an American. He could have been Swedish, he could have been French, he could have been from Holland, it doesn't matter. It's the quality of the work that matters, and he was the best heavy metal drummer we could find."
- Rob Halford, Radio MCB, February 2, 1991

     "Scott made a bigger impact on the band, I think, with his power drumming. We hadn’t had a drum sound like that since we’d begun. And really, there wasn’t very many European drummers who could match what Scott does, even today..."
- Ian Hill, Prime-Choice, January 21, 1998

     "So we're no longer an all-British band, but predominately British music."
- Glenn Tipton, Foundations magazine, September 24, 1990

MID/LATE 1989: Pre-production begins

Priest had been writing and recording rough demos in their rehearsal studio in Spain in between the drummer auditions, and after Scott Travis got the job, he was handed a rough demo of new material to add his ideas to and then pre-production began. One special defining moment took place while Scott was warming up at one of the rehearsals. The riff he was playing caught the attention of the guys - it was to become the intro to "Painkiller" and set the tone for the rest of the album.

     "With the introduction of Scott into the band, it was a new lease on life really."
K.K. Downing, Goldmine magazine, June 5, 1998

The reaction to the last two studio albums had been good, but sales were now dwindling and a large backlash came from devoted defenders of the metal faith who wanted Priest to dump the synth guitars and drum machines and get to the meat of the metal. RAM IT DOWN had hinted at the direction with its heroic harmony solos and Rob's banshee wails, but ultimately failed to connect on the rest of the writing and production. The question going into the '90s was, "Could Judas Priest still be relevant in the new decade?"...

     "We listen to our fans and their overall reaction was, 'Give us some hardcore Priest!' Painkiller can be characterized as early vintage Priest, with inspiration and ideas from more recent styles of heavy metal. Look, we're a band that tries to do as many things as we can and take risks and chances. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. The last two albums were pieces of work from Judas Priest at that given moment, and while we've never released anything that we weren't 100% happy with at the time, they gave us insight into where our true popularity lies, which is real hardcore based - definitely in the musical parameters of Painkiller."
- Rob Halford, Billboard, November 3, 1990

     "The time again was changing because then you had bands like Pantera, Anthrax, and Sepultura, and metal was becoming even more street. So you could see Kiss and Judas Priest, Judas Priest and Pantera, and you can see everybody's becoming more street. The fear of being pretentious was creeping into certain people's minds."
- K.K. Downing, Goldmine magazine June 5, 1998

     "We're not boring old farts from the '70s!"
- Rob Halford, Kerrang, March 23, 1991

Between fan feedback, pressures from the changing face of the metal scene and Scott Travis' abilities giving the band an open slate for all possibilities, Rob, Glenn and K.K. revisited their back catalog of tracks that made them trendsetters in the first place:

     "We were playing our list of songs chronologically one day and we put together this double-album of 20 songs of the fastest stuff, and we were just absolutely floored and blown away with the energy from these tracks! Dating back from the very first album onwards - just all the fast energy tracks. That really is what gave us all the inspiration for the Painkiller album. We were listening to these tracks 'cause we were going to release this album - and I'm not going to tell you what it was called because we still want to release this Priest 'power album' - which I think is still essential for every heavy metal fan to have in his car, or bedroom, or whatever, when you just got that feeling that comes over you."
- K.K. Downing, Metal Shop, 1990

     "If you cast your line back throughout the years with tracks like 'Hell Bent For Leather' or if you go into the faster stuff, you know even 'Ram It Down', or a track off Ram It Down, or 'Screaming For Vengeance' or 'Freewheel Burning' or (Rob in background: 'Jawbreaker'), or 'Exciter', they're all basically what thrash was based on. I think part of us, there's a little bit of us that just wanted to restate the fact that a lot of the thrash was instigated by that and redo it in our own current mood. And as Rob said, we did interpret it and it's come out in a very unique way."
- Glenn Tipton, Metal Shop, 1990

     "We really went in there thinking, 'Let's do something from the heart that's what this band is all about' you know. I guess that was it essentially - like Glenn says, we wanted to make something very powerful, very exciting, with a lot of fast songs and a lot of energy. This one has turned out, I think, even way above what we anticipated.
     "We listen to all kinds of heavy metal music, you know - we're well aware of what's going on and some of the more recent stuff in metal has been really exciting you know, some of the speed stuff and the thrash stuff and everything else. So we listen to all that stuff and we mess around with it and we take it into different areas that maybe the people haven't ventured. So Painkiller itself is like a mixture of old metal and new metal combined, and it's created a uniqueness about it."
- Rob Halford, Metal Shop, 1990

     "We set out to do a very, very heavy album - we wanted to I don't know, re-educate people to the fact that Priest are total heavy metal and that's what we're into now and that's given us a whole new platform to work from, and it does reflect a new album and we're really thrilled with it! I mean, it's so good to play, it's so good to listen to, and it just sums us up, so we're really up on it you know."
- Glenn Tipton, Metal Shop, 1990

    "Obviously, when a band's been around for as long as we have, recording for as long as we have, musical changes do follow. I think a lot of people are saying we're going 'back to our roots' in regards to doing completely what we feel from the heart. Scott coming into the band is an ideal opportunity as well. The fact that he can play and perform the way that he can gives us the ability to be able to actually do an album full of the 'Exciter's and 'Screaming For Vengeance's and the faster 'Freewheel Burning' type stuff."
- K.K. Downing,
Foundations magazine, September 24, 1990

EARLY 1990: Recording begins

With pre-production wrapped up, Priest flew out to Miraval Studios to put the new album together. Miraval was an isolated countryside studio, located on the outskirts of Nice, South Eastern France, near the town of Brignoles and chosen so the band would not be distracted by the then impending trial... or was it perhaps something else that enticed them to this particular locale?

     "The studio was located within a stately Grande Château surrounded by acres of its own working vineyards. Due to copious amounts of perfectly priced house label wine on tap, dinners tended to last somewhat longer than they should have done!
     "Other memories of our time at Miraval include trips to St. Tropez, roulette in the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo, the breathtaking scenery of the Alpes du Dauphine, wild boar attacks whilst getting lost in the surrounding vineyards after dinner!"
- Painkiller Re-Master liner note, 2002

At the production helm was a familiar name as well:

Chris Tsangarides is well-known for his producer and engineer credits on many of the top British metal albums of the '80s, including releases by Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy and Tygers Of Pan Tang. Chris also manned the boards for the SAD WINGS OF DESTINY album. According to The Encyclopedia Of Rock Producers (1999), the members of Priest saw an MTV video in the late '80s and were taken by the sound. When they learned it had been produced by Chris Tsangarides, they called him to produce their 1990 PAINKILLER album, as Tom Allom was no longer available.

     "We'd explored all our potential with Tom Allom, but we still needed a producer in Judas Priest to inspire us in the studio and make suggestions for different techniques."
- Rob Halford, Billboard, November 3, 1990

     "In Chris Tsangarides we found a more than worthy successor to Tom Allom. Chris's experience and knowledge of heavy metal is vast and would prove to be invaluable as the album progressed."
- Painkiller Re-Master liner note, 2002

Chris' skills went beyond just merely inspiring and guiding the band in the studio - he also contributed to the writing, helping pen the only song to have radio potential: The brilliantly masterful "A Touch Of Evil" became a Top 30 rock radio track and the album's second video.

Final recording and mixing took place at Wisseloord Studios in Holland and PAINKILLER could have been on store shelves early in the year, but the release date had to be set back as certain events unfolded in the Reno, Nevada courts...

     "We dug our teeth in on PAINKILLER and were not about to let anything deter us. Hence 'Painkiller', 'All Guns Blazing',
'Leather Rebel', 'A Touch Of Evil' - everything about that album was going, 'Do your worst' basically.
     "We knew the court case was looming up fast and furious. There was lots of paperwork going back and forth while we were in the studio, and we went from a period where we thought it was a joke to taking it very seriously. When we were being booked for depositions, we knew that it was going to happen."

K.K. Downing, Goldmine magazine, June 5, 1998

JULY 1990: Metal on trial

     "I was very much involved with the court case (for the five years before it came to trial as well!) and I was on the stand for the band twice in Reno. It certainly was a very scary time - the whole situation was a nightmare and very nerve wracking!
- Jayne Andrews, Management Co-ordinator for Judas Priest, August 18, 2003

     "It tore us up emotionally hearing someone say to the judge and the cameras that this is a band that creates music that kills young people. We accept that some people don't like heavy metal, but we can't let them convince us that it's negative and destructive. Heavy metal is a friend that gives people great pleasure and enjoyment and helps them through hard times.
     "Whether there's any 'subliminal effect' from the court, I don't know, but we certainly couldn't let it interfere with our creativity."

- Rob Halford, Billboard, November 3, 1990

Along the road to success, Judas Priest have had to face many hard times and trials, but this was to be the ultimate test - Priest would have to be the defenders of the faith not only for themselves, but for all metal!

December 23, 1985, two days before Christmas in Sparks, Nevada. 20-year-old James Vance was hanging out at 18-year-old Raymond Belknap's bedroom spinning heavy metal and hard rock albums on the turntable while drinking a 12-pack of beer and smoking marijuana. Ray had felt like giving his Christmas gifts out a couple days early to his family, and as Jay was his closest friend, he also handed him his gift: a copy of the Judas Priest record STAINED CLASS. They played the album several times while checking out the album sleeve art, then, while chanting "Do it, do it!" over and over, they entered into a suicide pact, wedged a 2X4 under the door, trashed the room, even tearing at the walls, and when Ray's mom knocked on the door, the two headed out the bedroom window, Ray grabbing a sawed-off 12-guage shotgun. According to Jay's mom, only the albums and record player remained intact:

     "The only things not broken in the room were the turntable and the albums."
- Phyllis Vance, 1989

Phyllis Vance, Jay's mother

It was near dusk now, as the two boys ran down the alley behind Ray's house and climbed a six-foot wall that lead to the yard
of the Community First Church of God.

     "Ray sat on a small carousel in the corner of the courtyard, held the shotgun tightly under his chin, muttered the
words, 'I sure fucked up my life' and pulled the trigger - showering the area with blood. Jay had been looking the other way
when Ray took his own life, but caught the horrifying sight of fire shooting from the back of Ray's skull as the shell
exploded. Fearing he would be blamed for the death of his friend, Jay grabbed the gun, held it under his chin and pulled the
trigger, blowing off the lower portion of his face, but failing to kill himself."
- Jeff Kitts, Assistant Editor, Foundations magazine, September 24, 1990

     "There was just tons of blood. It was like the gun had grease on it. There was so much blood I could barely handle it
and I reloaded it and then it was my turn, and I readied myself. I was thinking about all that there was to live for, so much
of your life is right before your eyes, and it was like I didn't have any control...I went ahead and shot."
- James Vance, 1986

     "James lifted the gun, wet with blood. He said later that he trembled. He felt afraid. He could be blamed for Ray's
death. He wondered why they had chanted "do it." He placed the gun under his own jaw, but had failed to brace the shotgun. As
he pulled the trigger the gun lurched forward. The blast shot off the front of his face. It did not kill him. It left him
severely wounded and disfigured. He lived for nearly three years.
- Eldon Taylor, Ph.D., 1990

James Vance after attempted
reconstructive surgery

Plastic surgeons tried all they could to restore what was left of Jay's face, but were only able to restore his ability to eat and breathe - the disfigurement was too severe. Jay returned home to live with his parents between hospital visits and would ride his bicycle around town shocking people with his grotesque disfigurement.

Four months after the horrible incident that ended his best friend's life, Jay wrote a letter to Ray's mother, Aunetta Roberson, wherein he said,

I believe that alcohol and heavy metal music, such as Judas Priest, led us or even 'mesmerized' us into believing that the answer to 'life was death'.
- James Vance, 1986

Aunetta Roberson, Ray's mom

With such damning testimony, Aunetta took the letter to lawyers, directly blaming heavy metal music and Judas Priest's STAINED CLASS album as the cause of the boys' suicide pact. A complaint was entered and a subpoena was served to Judas Priest one night while on a RAM IT DOWN tour stop in Reno, Nevada:

     "We were just about to go onstage one night and the Sheriff walked in and gave us a subpoena."
- Glenn Tipton, VH1 Behind The Music, 2001

     "We'd heard about the two lads in Reno. We knew they'd been Priest fans, and we heard rumors that the parents thought
our music had somehow driven them to it.
     "It was almost five years later, when we did a concert in Nevada, that we were handed a writ claiming that our album
STAINED CLASS had been responsible for the double suicide, and we were being sued for $6.2 million. Apparently you have to be
handed the writ in the state where the allegations are being brought against you."
- Glenn Tipton, August 1990

The plaintiffs, looking for answers, hired six local teens to decipher the lyrics to the STAINED CLASS album. The teens reported having nightmares about going on killing sprees in the local mall. Prosecuting attorneys Kenneth J. McKenna and Timothy Post then hired self-taught audio engineer Bill Nickloff to examine the songs through a Mac 2 computer running a "backwards engineering" program he had developed. While no explicit directives to take one's own life were found, Nickloff did detect references to words such as "kill" and "blood", as well as the phrases, "sing my evil spirit", "try suicide", "suicide is in" and "fuck the Lord, fuck all of you".

     "Their brilliant audio expert, who is a marine biologist, should really be looking after Flipper..."
- Rob Halford, Rockline, August 20, 1990

Also discovered by the prosecution was the alleged subliminal image of male genitals in the album cover, which shows a metallic head with a projectile moving through it. It was also suggested that the album cover was suggestive of a person shooting him self in the head, thus giving the teenage boys the idea to shoot themselves in the head (rumor also has it that the original album sleeve had the word "suicide" hidden in the ear of the head - since blotted out on further pressings - but lots of album sleeve designers do little things like that as a part of a unique signature on their art):

     "Once you see and hear the subliminals, they're unmistakable."
- Ken McKenna, 1989

     "The fact that the Vance boy apparently is quoted as saying he saw fire fly from the back of Belknap's head, when indeed that didn't happen, would indicate that his perception is somewhat skewed, and I believe that it's more than coincidental that the album cover would be essentially presenting what it is that Vance says he saw."
- Eldon Taylor, Ph.D., 1990

During the time the case was waiting to be heard, James Vance became addicted to strong painkillers and other drugs. He was eventually admitted to the psychiatric unit of the Washoe Medical Center, where, on November 29, 1988, Jay died from a methadone overdose, mistakenly administered by the hospital staff.

     "Jay Vance was to be the star witness. As the court case got closer, it must have dawned on him that he would be on the stand, looking like he did, facing a band he'd always thought was great, and then finally, when the Judge said there would be television cameras in court, just prior to the case, he died of an overdose. You have to ask yourself who really was responsible for that lad's death?"
- Glenn Tipton, August 1990

In August of 1989, the case went to pre-trial before Justice Jerry Whitehead.

The complaint was directed against Judas Priest and CBS Records, and focused on two songs from the STAINED CLASS album, "Heroes End" and "Beyond The Realms Of Death", claiming they contained strong references toward suicide and alleging that the band's "cult-following", suggestive artwork and hypnotic beat of the music aided in leading the young men to follow the "commands" of the band.

     "It was originally about the track 'Heroes End' - they tried to say the band were saying you could only be a hero if you killed yourself, till I had to give them the correct lyrics which is 'why do heroes have to die?'... Then they changed their plea to subliminal messages on the album!"
- Jayne Andrews, Management Co-ordinator for Judas Priest, October 2003

As Jayne correctly points out, the prosecuting attorneys had misquoted the lyrics to the chorus of "Heros End" as: "But you, you have to die to be a hero/It's a shame in life/You make it better dead", changing the entire meaning of the song. Nevertheless, a recent ruling from the California District Court of Appeals concerning Ozzy Osbourne's song "Suicide Solution" had found such expressions of art to be a form of free speech, protected under the First Amendment Bill of Rights, so the plaintiffs amended their complaint to state that there were subliminal messages on the track "Better By You, Better Than Me".

Justice Whitehead ruled that these "non-decipherable sounds below the conscious threshold of awareness" are not protected by the First Amendment because they do not perform any of the functions that free speech accomplishes. Also, Judge Whitehead added that people have a right to be free from unwanted speech and subliminal messages constitute an invasion of privacy. Therefore, it was ruled that the case should be heard, and a trial date was set for the summer of 1990.

The defendants were given a choice of having either a jury decide the case or letting the judge make the decision. According to Rob Halford, because of the emotional nature of the case and the intensely graphic pictures of James Vance's disfigurement, it was felt the judge would be capable of rendering a fair decision without adding emotions and dramatics to his decision.

Defendants of the faith...
(Pictures courtesy of Ken Morrison)

On July 16, 1990, the gavel pounded and court was brought to session at the Washoe County Court House in Reno, Nevada, Judge Jerry Carr Whitehead presiding.

     "Just to make sure we're together: There is nothing in the music, in the sound effects, or the lyrics that is actionable, cause they are constitutionally protected. What is on trial is whether there are subliminal messages present, and if so, if they have an effect upon the listener."
- Judge Jerry Whitehead, Vance v. Judas Priest, 1990

 For the next 14 days, the STAINED CLASS album was dissected and examined by both sides. Susan Fulstone and Gail Edwin representing Judas Priest and CBS Records, Kenneth J. McKenna, Timothy Post and Vivian Lynch representing the plaintiffs.

The case was drawing media attention, and the frenzy was described as "a circus" by the band, as lawyers for the prosecution resorted to shrewd dramatics in the courtroom:

     "The very first day in court, one of the prosecution lawyers stood up wearing one of Ray Belknap's suits. It was just like Perry Mason, you know - this man standing in the clothes of a dead lad, holding the shotgun that had killed them, and he turned 'round and looked at us. That was the point when I finally realized how serious the whole thing was."
- Glenn Tipton, August 1990

And the circus continued outside the courtroom, as those same lawyers would become friendly with the defendants and seek the band's autographs between sessions:

     "Both of the prosecuting attorneys have children and we were giving them autographs and albums and all of those nice things during recesses, and it was quite strange to have to stand there and sign autographs for a person that's trying to destroy you, but that was the kind of thing we were up against - it was very bizarre to say the least!"
- Rob Halford, Rockline, August 20, 1990

It was argued that the boys had been chanting, "Do it" over and over because seven subliminal "do it" commands were alleged to have been recorded by a voice other than Rob Halford's and hidden in the first and second choruses of the song "Better By You, Better Than Me". Also alleged, were "back-masked messages" on three other songs (the supposed phrases "Try suicide", "Suicide is in" and "Fuck the Lord, fuck all of you" discovered earlier during the pre-trial).

Here's a sound sample of the "Do its" in "Better By You, Better Than Me: Do it mp3

     "It's a fact that if you play speech backwards, some of it will seem to make sense. So I asked permission to go into a studio and find some perfectly innocent phonetic flukes. The lawyers didn't want to do it, but I insisted. We bought a copy of the STAINED CLASS album in a local record shop, went into the studio, recorded it to tape, turned it over and played it backwards. Right away we found 'Hey ma, my chair's broken' and 'Give me a peppermint' and 'Help me keep a job'.
- Glenn Tipton, August 1990

     "I took the two-track master tape of STAINED CLASS with me to a studio near the courthouse and played it backwards till I found something. It took about two minutes... On the track 'Exciter', during the chorus where it says, 'Stand by for Exciter/Salvation is his task', played backwards it said, 'I-I-I asked her for a peppermint/I-I-I asked for her to get one'."
- Rob Halford, Toronto, 1990

     "I played the track 'Exciter' backwards and suggested to the judge that what he'd heard was, 'I asked her for a peppermint. I asked her to get me one'. When the judge heard it, his eyes lit up. It was as if he realized how ridiculous the whole thing was."
- Rob Halford, What's on TV 9, March 15, 2002

     "We chose Rob to give evidence in court, because he was the one who had actually sung the lyrics, so in that sense, he was the one being most directly accused."
- Glenn Tipton, August 1990

"I admitted on the stand that we had actually recorded backwards before...but it wasn't any hidden message. It was just gibberish. And you could hear the prosecution opening the champagne when I said that."
- Rob Halford, August 1990

Priest had indeed played around with the subject of backmasking back in 1984, when the subject was a hot topic: On the song "Love Bites" from Defenders Of The Faith, Rob Halford purposely placed a backwards message in the song . But it was a slap in the face to the silliness of the moral groups when it was discovered that the "hidden message" was merely the song's own chorus placed backwards with an added pitch-transposer! More details here

     "Then Rob played a lyric from our song 'Invader': 'Even so we must prepare a defense' - but when he played it backwards, it sounded like, 'I have heard some music'. It was so stunning that the prosecution lawyers stood up and shouted, 'This is rubbish, we don't believe this.' So our lawyer offered to pay for them to make the same test in a studio of their choice with their own engineers -
     "We never heard another word about reverse messages, but we still had to deal with the supposedly subliminal messages..."
- Glenn Tipton, August 1990

Not only did the plaintiffs refuse the offer to make their own test, they accused CBS Records of having blocked their efforts when they were preparing their case, because the label had failed to produce the original 24-track master tape for analysis, claiming that they couldn't find it. The plaintiffs' lawyers even hired a former Scotland Yard detective to search for the master tape, and under oath, he told the court that he had not been allowed to look in the label's vaults. Employees at the label who were called to the stand, said it's very strange that the masters could not be located, as they are needed for further pressings of the album, which is a big seller for the band...

Other backwards message were discovered and presented to the plaintiff's lawyers, but as the backmasking issue was no longer a valid point, the evidence was not used:

     "I found over 72 speech reversals on this album, only two of which were quoted at the trial. The attorney for the plaintiff completely overlooked the most striking reversals: 'God is evil / An innocent man help us. Get out of it, get out of it / Say, am I sexy. Give us the truth / You silly fuck. I took my life (A powerful complementary reversal, which occurs on the last stanza of 'Beyond The Realms Of Death'). Take me out / We died for glory/ We died sad'."
- David John Oates, Founder and Developer of Reverse Speech Technologies, 2001

With the issue of backwards messages settled, it was time to show the court the ridiculousness of pursuing a case that has no existing evidence. The defendants argued that if there was actually any scientific evidence, it would mean that there was the presence of information, making it "supraliminal", not "subliminal", information, which is therefore protected as free speech... "Subliminal" information would not be detectible, making it not only difficult, but impossible for the plaintiffs to admit as "evidence"!

     "The only subliminal message I would put on an album would be, 'Buy seven copies'."
- Bill Curbishley, August 1990

     "It was alleged that a particular subliminal phrase in one of their songs ("Better By You, Better Than Me") on the album triggered a suicidal impulse. The phrase at issue was, "Do it." In isolation, this phrase has little meaning unless there is some antecedent to which the "it" refers. Moreover, the antecedent could not have been anything that was audible on the record (or visible on the album cover), because such material would have been protected by the First Amendment. Consequently the plaintiffs were in the difficult position of having to acknowledge that the boys were suicidal to begin with, and that the subliminal phrase "Do it" triggered the already existing disposition."
- Timothy E. Moore, witness for the defendants, Skeptical Inquirer magazine, November/December 1996

     "We brought our own expert witness, Anthony Pellicano, the bloke who analyzed the Watergate tapes and the tapes of the shots of the Kennedy assassination.
     "Pellicano played 'Better By You, Better Than Me' and established that the sounds you hear are me exhaling, coupled with the guitar (played through a Leslie organ effect), which gives a sound like 'oowee oowee' and, when you hear the drums over that, it could be mistaken for 'Do it, do it."
- Rob Halford, August 1990

     "We had to sit in this courtroom in Reno for six weeks. It was like Disneyworld. We had no idea what a subliminal message was - it was just a combination of some weird guitar sounds, and the way I exhaled between lyrics. I had to sing 'Better by You, Better Than Me' in court, a cappella. I think that was when the judge thought, 'What am I doing here? No band goes out of its way to kill its fans'."
- Rob Halford, Telegraph, March 19, 2005

Rob demonstrates his vocal technique on the stand

Members of Judas Priest pose with some experimental psychologists

     "An odd reversal of roles emerged during the suicide case, which ended at the weekend, against the British pop group Judas Priest...The principal expert for the families was Dr. Wilson Key. Almost everywhere he looks, Dr. Key sees the word 'sex,' and depictions of skulls and penises. He has observed these in Ritz crackers, Rembrandt paintings, and Abraham Lincoln's beard on five dollar notes. At times, the two prosecution lawyers seemed so infected by their witness' uncanny ability to discover the sinister in the mundane, that courtroom exchanges became reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch. Brandishing a cassette box, one lawyer fixed a gimlet eye on James Guthrie, the producer of one of the alleged suicide songs, and demanded: 'Just what does C-90 mean here?' 'Well', Mr. Guthrie explained mildly, 'the 'C' referred to cassette and '90' meant 90 minutes'."
- Christopher Reed, The Guardian, August 1990

     "It is possible that Dr. Key undermined his own credibility with the court by opining that subliminal messages could be found on Ritz crackers, the Sistine Chapel, Sears catalogues, and the NBC evening news. He also asserted that 'science is pretty much what you can get away with at any point in time'.
     "The most influential expert to testify for the plaintiffs was Howard Shevrin, whose credentials were unassailable. He has conducted research on subliminal influences for over twenty years and has a respectable track record of publications in peer-reviewed books and journals. Shevrin's argument was that subliminal commands are especially potent because the recipient is unaware of their source and attributes the directive or the imperative to himself - to his own inner motivational state.
     "The fallacy lies in assuming that an imperative message has some inherently motivating effect. His position also required the assumption that a suicidal disposition requires a trigger or precipitant in order to be acted on. This assumption does not square with the research literature on adolescent suicide (Maris 1981). Shevrin was nevertheless persuasive. He provided an apparently respectable conceptual framework for explaining how such a mysterious and almost magical force could operate."
- Timothy E. Moore, witness for the defendants, Skeptical Inquirer magazine, November/December 1996

     "There are no subliminal messages in the music. The so-called subliminals are nothing more than a combination of incidental noises. Even if subliminals are present, they do not cause suicide.
     "People write about and sing about serious subjects. I don't think anyone would accuse Shakespeare, Picasso or writers and artists of various kinds with the intent to harm anyone. I just don't think art causes anti-social activity.
     "They were two young men with nowhere to go, no strong relationships, no futures."
- Susan Fulstone, attorney for the defense, 1990

     "Their expert had been genuinely convinced we'd put subliminal messages on the record, but when she came face to face with Pellicano, I saw it dawning on her as they spoke, that she actually realized she'd got egg on her face, you know? Like she suddenly realized she'd been talked into something she couldn't really justify.
     "It took about six weeks before a judgment was handed down that any subliminal messages on the album were not responsible for the deaths of these lads. But that implies that there were subliminals, even though we had proven in court that there weren't. It was contradictory and unsatisfactory. We were absolved of blame, but the implication was that there were messages on the album. This was presumably to save face for the American legal system, which had allowed this ridiculous case to get this far, at a huge cost to taxpayers.
     "It was a test case for the arts in general, not just heavy metal, because if we had lost, the floodgates would open. Every book that was written, every film, every record...there would be cases based on subliminal messages.
     "In effect, we did win, yet it cost us over a quarter of a million dollars. We went through hell for six weeks, but we came out of it stronger, more knowledgeable, and you learn. It's all experience."
- Glenn Tipton, August 1990

     "We have never ever placed any subliminal content on any of our records. I mean, why on earth would we put something on a record that you can't hear? And, as our manager said, if we were going to do that, why not make it something like, 'Buy seven
copies of this album'? Besides, STAINED CLASS was made 12 years ago and has been listened to by millions of people. So if you're talking about percentages and subliminal messages having the ability to kill, then I would think there'd be a lot of dead Judas Priest fans."
- Rob Halford, Toronto, 1990

     "The scientific research presented does not establish that subliminal stimuli, even if perceived, may precipitate conduct of this magnitude... The strongest evidence presented at the trial showed no behavioral effects other than anxiety, distress or tension."
- Judge Jerry Whitehead, Vance v. Judas Priest, 1990

     "A Nevada court ruling absolving CBS Records in the deaths of two men who listened to heavy metal music containing subliminal messages will likely go unchallenged, according to the plaintiffs' attorney, Timothy Post. In September 1990, Judge Jerry Whitehead ruled that the Judas Priest album STAINED CLASS contained subliminal messages but that the messages were placed there unintentionally. Furthermore, there is no scientific evidence that such messages could influence listeners to commit suicide. Post said that the product liability lawsuit sought $6.2 million, charging that the record was a defective product that bombarded the psychodynamic subconscious mind. The suit was brought under product liability law because it was felt that CBS could be held responsible for a faulty record just like another company should be held liable for an exploding soda bottle or an exploding gasoline tank on an automobile. Defense witness Anthony Pratkanis, a psychology professor, attributed the plaintiffs' actions to alcohol and drug use, personality disorders, and problems with work and family."
- Michael Bradford, Business Insurance, September 10, 1990

Judge Whitehead ruled that Judas Priest and CBS Records were not responsible for the the deaths of Raymond Belknap and James Vance, but did award the prosecution $40,000.

K.K. talks with fans at the trial

(Pictures courtesy of Ken Morrison)

Though Judas Priest did emerge the victors in the case, it was the ruling by Judge Whitehead that the album did in fact contain subliminal messages that hurt them on the open market. Regardless that the messages were found to be mere audio anomalies, natural occurrences that happen in all types of audio recordings and not intentionally placed, and that they had no ability to cause conduct of such magnitude, to those on the outside (including important industry contacts and insiders), the name of Judas Priest would be associated with "suicide band" and "subliminal criminals".  Indeed, the victory was bitter-sweet:

     "The case already has had a chilling effect on free expression and could only get worse."
- Susan Fulstone, attorney for the defense, 1990

     "People in court said heavy metal is bad, it's satanic, and everybody that listens to Judas Priest is mad, is crazy, is full of drugs, hates the world, is an anarchic...You know. If somebody said that to you, you'd be pissed off. I was pissed off! So, we stood up in court and said, 'Fuck you! Heavy metal is great!' "
- Rob Halford, Radio MCB, February 2, 1991

     "In a way, we've helped to influence heavy metal music throughout the world really - not in any great way, not in any
way more than any other band, but we have helped to shape it - and that's something to be very proud of. We've always flown
the flag for metal and we've never denounced heavy metal. We're proud to play it and proud to perform it."
- Glenn Tipton, Metal Shop, Summer, 1990

     "The trial affected us more than people might think. I'm sure that people think we just brushed it off, but when you have to walk into court every day for six weeks and have lie after lie thrown at you, with the American legal system making us scapegoats for their own problems, it really winds you up."
- Glenn Tipton, Metal Hammer, January 2004

     "Why the hell would you tell your buying public to go and blow their brains out?
     "You look at Marilyn Manson, okay... if we were doing that sort of stuff, we would never get away with it. I don’t know why. It’s a ludicrous thing and I don’t know what fires it, I really don’t. It’s just sheer ignorance, I think, that fires these sort of cases - ignorance and greed on behalf of some unscrupulous lawyers. They see an avenue there of making a buck or two and they go for it. It’s the same as these stupid... it’s like somebody suing Coca-Cola because somebody snorted Coke up their nose when they were laughing and gave themselves a cold. That’s what it is - it’s people seeing a little loophole, or a little chance to make a quick buck. And they’re going for it, y’know what I mean? And that’s what they did to us. I don’t know how it came about. There was a wide organization behind all of that! I mean, the whole thing was organized - they had expert witnesses, they were all lined up... and these were the same guys that were working on the Ozzy case as well. And if we’d have lost, they would’ve gone straight for Ozzy. And they’ve got three or four other acts that they’ve got lined up.
     "The other thing is this contingency thing. I mean, listen, at the end of the day, it’s the state that brings the case against you. I mean, these lawyers have to go up in front of a judge and say, 'Listen, have we got a chance of winning this?' And the judge says either, 'No, I think that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard', or, 'Yeah, you’ve got a chance'. Now, if that judge comes out and says, 'Yes, you’ve got a chance', they’re gonna fight the case. Then if the people who are being accused win, it cost us millions of dollars in defense legal fees. I mean, what do you do? Do you make the other lawyers pay? Do you make the state pay? Well, maybe if you made the state pay, then maybe the state would think twice about bringing these goofy cases to court in the first place! 'Yeah, we feel much better now with a couple million in the bank'. That’s obscene. It’s more obscene than anything us or Marilyn Manson could do."
- Ian Hill, Prime-Choice, January 21, 1998

     "So much of this censorship on freedom of expression is enmeshed in politics and religion, and again, unfortunately, so much of it is just for the benefit of those who want to climb the ladder in whatever profession they're involved in. If you look at the history of culture and arts, there's never been anything that's brought down a civilization, including America. In America right now, of course, horrible, horrible things have happened. I went through those same kinds of experiences with the IRA in Birmingham. You'd walk around the city not knowing if a bomb was going to go off. That's just one measure of the kind of panic that these kinds of conditions can bring into a system. And I think that the worst thing that you can do is bring out a big stick and start beating everything into submission."
 - Rob Halford, Hartford Advocate, July 8, 2004

But shocking as it may come to the witch-hunters and Don Quixotes of the world, a rarely known detail emerged out of the proceedings: Judas Priest actually engage in charity work!

     "We have often visited seriously or terminally ill fans who have wanted to meet the band. There was one person who had a serious accident and they had to bring him to one of the concerts on one of these life-support systems with this breathing apparatus. Another time we visited terminally ill kids at a ward within John Hopkins in Cincinnati. Manager Bill Curbishley has also been recognized for his major fund-raising events in the music industry through his Trinifold Management company. It's just part and parcel of the job really.
     "We never come up with or keep a catalog of what we actually do,
whether it be visits, auctioning items, or making donations. That's why there's the irony with people who give Judas Priest the black mark."
- K.K. Downing, Metal Hammer, 1990

     "Another point worth remembering is that individuals, such as myself, have often donated personal articles, time, and monetary resources to assist unfortunate individuals within our society. Many musicians, and their management, have assisted runaways who needed guidance, and they have obtained counseling for the physically and sexually abused."
- Rob Halford, Foundations Forum Keynote Address, 1990

     "The outpouring of support, which we received during the trial in Reno, Nevada from our fans, and from members of the general public who have never listened to a Judas Priest song, showed each member of Judas Priest just how much Priest means to this world.
     "On the day K.K. Downing was leaving Reno, Nevada, he overheard on the radio an American soldier's song request. The soldier was on his way to the Middle East to assist in the protection of the world forces which have converged in Saudi Arabia. The soldier requested, for his friends in Reno and his buddies in Saudi Arabia, the Judas Priest song, 'You've Got Another Thing Comin'."
- Rob Halford, Foundations Forum Keynote Address, 1990

What also came out in the court was that the two young men who took their lives were already hell bent for destruction:

     "The reasons for the shootings may be more easily found in the lives of the two hopeless young men already deeply marked by broken families, family violence and failure. Raymond Belknap's life, like James Vance's, was hard. He had three stepfathers and was beaten by the third, according to the court records. He was on probation for stealing money and under investigation for animal torture after shooting at neighbors' animals with a dart gun. Both young men had dropped out of high school, drifted from job to job and had been fascinated with guns.
     "James Vance had fled from his home 13 times in the two years before the shooting. An only child, he had no contact with his biological father and frequently tangled with his adoptive father, Emmit Vance, a recovering alcoholic. James' mother also conceded that she had hit her son too often when he was young. James, in turn, assaulted his mother several times and choked her when he was 8. He once pointed a loaded gun at her head and threatened to shoot her, she said. James' grade school once suggested that he and his mother receive psychiatric counseling because the boy was pulling his hair out and tying belts tightly around his head.
Another school psychologist later said there was a good chance that James would 'respond violently to stressful situations' as he grew older, according to court records.
     "Admitted to a drug and alcohol addiction center the year of the shooting, James said he used LSD, speed, cocaine, heroin, PCP, barbiturates and marijuana. Despite these problems, the Vances think music destroyed their son. Emmit, a forklift operator for General Motors, read books about the negative effects of rock music. Phyllis keeps busy with jigsaw puzzles, sewing and church work. 'He would quote lyrics just as if they were Scriptures', says Phyllis Vance, who several times threw her son's music away because the young man was moody and violent when he listened to heavy metal."
- David John Oates, Founder and Developer of Reverse Speech Technologies, 2001

     "These two young men lost their lives because of their tragic involvement in drugs and alcohol and dysfunctional family units in which they weren't given proper care, attention or guidance. I'm not making light of a tragic situation, but this trial was just an attempt to shift the burden of guilt to someone else's shoulders.
     "We gave them a great deal of pleasure with our music. Now I'd be more than pleased if we were just allowed to get on with our creativity and continue to bring pleasure and entertainment to the countless millions of people who have been listening to this music completely harm-free for many years.
     "The world is not a pretty place
. There's a lot of bad things going on right now, since day one. Freud says we're all basically aggressive creatures, that it's all about aggression and sex. I think we've got a much better grasp on some of this than the people who attack us.
     "Judas Priest has never written obscene lyrics or advocated Satanism, violence or substance abuse. We are conscious people, a responsible band, and we do have our limits on where we want to go, but once you worry about 'responsibility,' you should get out of the business. Once you say, 'Well I can do this but I can't do that', where have you gone? You've lost your freedom of artistic expression.
     "Metal's always been a little bit of an underdog, like certain types of folk music have that kind of needling approach to people, or Lenny Bruce. Certain groups feel uncomfortable about being stimulated and being forced to focus on issues they want to push under the carpet and that's what this kind of music has never been afraid to do."
- Rob Halford

     "I would agree entirely that music is a very powerful emotional source of stimulation, but I think the individual has some sort of conditioning already. Because most of us do go to a Rambo movie or a Swartzeneger movie that has incredible amounts of violence and bloodshed, and come out perfectly rational."
- Rob Halford, Toronto, 1990

     "Those boys who shot themselves - they weren't driven mad by music. Music was their only escape; it was the only thing they loved. But you know how it is: there was a big political agenda against metal at the time. We just happened to be the unlucky ones.
     "Nothing's changed since then. In fact, I think things are far worse. All you have to do is look at what's happening to Howard Stern. I don't understand it. I spend a lot of time in America - I live most of the year in Phoenix - and I love America, I really do. But this clampdown on artistic rights, this fear of expression - Howard Stern, Janet Jackson's breast - it's a uniquely American experience. I'm not saying you have to like it. Listen to Stern, don't listen to Stern, but you can't regulate him off the air, just like you can't stop heavy metal. [sighs] When you get right down to it, this is what keeps me going. 'Oh, you're standing in my way? I don't think so'."
- Rob Halford, Guitar World, September 2004

The members of Judas Priest were approached to do a movie about the trial, but they turned it down because they felt the subject matter was too exploitive and the true message of substance and family abuse would not be addressed correctly:

     "We were approached by a company that wanted to make a movie but quite honestly, we felt it was an exploitive situation."
- Rob Halford, Rockline, August 20, 1990

While no movie was ever made, a very important video documentary was put together by David Van Taylor. One of the first true "reality" films, before there was reality TV, Dream Deceivers: The Story Behind James Vance vs. Judas Priest is a shocking and revealing look at the families, friends, band and courtroom proceedings as they were happening. Included too are interviews with a badly disfigured James Vance while he was still alive just before the trial.

     "Did heavy metal music influence the teenagers to try to kill themselves? Or was it their dysfunctional families, childhood, and generally aimless, hopeless lives? To its credit, the film offers no pat answers. Recommended for public and academic libraries."
- Library Journal

     "The material is so overpowering, and the videotape creates such painful intimacy, that the coziness of the small screen may not do it justice... DREAM DECEIVERS will rivet the attention, as it presents a terrible story of mixed signals and wasted lives."
- New York Times

     "DREAM DECEIVERS provides a nightmare glimpse into America's spiritual drought and the way people fill that void with diametrically opposed faiths... DREAM DECEIVERS is ghoulish Americana that makes fictions such as BLUE VELVET, WILD AT HEART, and RIVER'S EDGE seem like Mother care ads."
- Interview

     " *****[5 Stars - Must Have] Extremely well edited. The primary individuals tell the story (or what they know of it) as footage of the trial is intermixed with interviews. Pacing, scripted narration, and interviews will rivet the viewer's attention... Both public libraries and schools will want to have this title available... It shows what can go wrong, and is a sobering learning experience for all viewers. This is an excellent documentary."
- Video Rating Guide for Libraries

** Blue Ribbon Winner, 1993 American Film & Video Festival
** 1993 Emmy Award Nominee

60 minutes / Color / 1991


Following the trial, Priest prepared for the release of their album and world tour. To avoid the appearance of exploiting the court case, the band had delayed the release of their new album until the trial was over. While some felt the exposure would bring the band free publicity, it certainly was not of the kind Priest ever wanted:

     "Well, we never used the publicity to sell the record. I think if we would have done that, I'd be walking around in my three-piece suit that I had to wear in court.
     "The Reno trial publicity didn't help us at all. We haven't sold any more albums. We haven't made any more bigger shows, we just carried on in our steady, confident kind of a way. Some people said that, with 10 million dollars, with the free publicity, we'd be a much bigger band. WE never believed that! And it's unfortunate now that in America, people that didn't know about Judas Priest, now they understand Judas Priest as being 'The suicide band from England', and that's a bad thing, you know. But that's the way that the media communicates in America... We just simply carried on the same way. We've just finished a three month tour of America that was as strong and as powerful as the last three, four or five tours that we've made.
     "There was an
advertisement that said, 'This Priest-album is as great backwards as forwards'.
That was the idea of the record-company. And you're laughing, and that's exactly what you should do! You should react to it with a smile. That's the way we intended it to be. It was like getting that lawyer, who held up STAINED CLASS and said, 'I wonder how many more people this has killed', you know, and slap him across the face and say, 'Well, get this!' It's great backwards or forwards! With any kind of tragedy, and it WAS a tragedy that two men lost their lives through drug-addiction and alcohol-abuse and parents that didn't love their kids, to a situation where you could at least smile about it and get on with your life. I'm not gonna walk around being depressed for the rest of my life because of Reno! But at the same time, like I said earlier, we didn't gain anything by the Reno situation. We lost about a half a million dollars in legal costs, that we had to pay for, and a lot of terrible things were said about Judas Priest, about heavy metal. We defended heavy metal music!

- Rob Halford, Radio MCB, February 2, 1991

Columbia Records "Awesome! Backwards or forwards" ad

     "Once the legal nastiness was out of the way, the band finally released Painkiller, shot a video for the title track, performed at Foundations Forum (where they played 'Better By You, Better Than Me' for the first time in over a decade), then embarked on another world tour. Considered by many to be Priest's finest hour, and offering brilliant soloing, Painkiller was a top 30 record Stateside. It quickly went gold, received rave reviews, and reestablished Priest as a prominent metal force, proving that they still had something to say. The album's 'hit' song, 'A Touch Of Evil', was co-authored by producer Chris Tsangerides and became a Top 30 radio rock track and the album's second video."
- Bryan Reesman, Goldmine magazine, June 5, 1998

     "I think when Priest finally hangs up the microphones, the guitar cords and the drum sticks, I'd just like people to remember us as a band that really tried to show people in music that heavy metal isn't just a one-dimensional form of music; it's not all plodding riffs in E or A; it's not all about death, doom, and destruction. It's got a lot of character, it's got a lot of flavor, it's got a lot of wonderful variety of interpretation that's available to it if you only look and you explore, and you take some risks. Priest has always done that.
      "You take an album like Turbo, which is my all-time favorite Priest album, which is very up, is very optimistic - makes you feel great when you listen to it. It's very full of experimentation and very modernism ways of taking heavy metal. And then you go to another extreme, like a more recent album like Painkiller, which is real pedal-to-the-metal and it's really explosive, aggressive, angry music that's very, very complex in parts, but very stimulating and really gets your blood pumping. That's how I'd like people to remember Priest as being: A band that explored and a band that went where no band went before in heavy metal."
- Rob Halford, BBC Radio 1, April 5, 1991

     "I don't think we're stuck with only one kind of music, because...I think, when you play TURBO and PAINKILLER back to back, you got all this variety, you got all this choice. And we pick and choose from different areas of what we've done and what we're able to do. I think, as far as the fans being angry with TURBO... you know, some of them were and some of them weren't. Some of them loved TURBO, some of them hated it. Some of them love PAINKILLER, some of them hate PAINKILLER. You just make the record, and you hope that as many people like it as possible. I can't grab people's arm and twist it up their back and go, 'Go into that record-shop and buy PAINKILLER!!' "
- Rob Halford, Radio MCB, February 2, 1991

     "Well, that’s true. TURBO is a different direction. We’ve done it a couple of times, we’ve changed direction and got slated for it. Same with PAINKILLER. PAINKILLER got quite a cool reaction in some areas. That was the heaviest thing we’d ever done to date. It was a murderous album, but you always get the fans who prefer the more melodic type of stuff. They prefer the 'Beyond The Realms Of Death' and the more production pieces like 'Blood Red Skies or 'Fever'. And when you slap PAINKILLER at ‘em, it’s sort of like a whack right in the face. It’s got to evolve - 'It’s nothing like the album I bought last time'. There’s always going to be that, but we’ve always tried to push it forward. I keep on saying this, but you can’t rest on your laurels. You have to keep cracking forward, and by that, you’re gonna disappoint some people. But you have to keep going, you have to keep modern. You can’t keep building Model T’s all the time, you gotta move on."
- Ian Hill, Prime-Choice, January 21, 1998


With the trial a month behind them and the album's release only days away, Judas Priest attended and performed at the Third Annual Concrete Foundations Forum on September 13, 1990. It was Scott Travis' first performance with the band and a trial-run before the upcoming world tour. But the highlight of the day's events however was Rob Halford's Keynote Address, given at the La Reina Ballroom in the Sheraton La Reina Hotel. Here is a list of the major points Rob addressed and main quotes given for each by the Metal God of diplomacy:

     "This will be an opportunity for all in attendance to hear my views concerning an array of topics which affects our lives as people and as artists...
     "It is important to appreciate that you may not be as good at resolving business issues as you are at creating. It is your responsibility, however, as an artist, to minimize this inexperience. Furthermore, it is important to understand the politics of the music industry. Practically every resolution reached within the industry is accomplished by tactful diplomacy. Artists do constantly struggle with the decision of when to seize an opportunity, and when to give in."
- Rob Halford, Foundations Forum Keynote Address, 1990
  • Record Labels
     "I personally admire certain labels who have created subsidiary labels which focus their efforts on alternative types of music. These subsidiary labels specialize in music which are more experimental or underground... It is a fact that not every band will have a Top-40 song, but that does not mean the music isn't valid."
- Rob Halford, Foundations Forum Keynote Address, 1990
  • Labeling
     "I stand firmly against any form of labeling. Labeling is an euphemism for censorship." The major labels within the music industry should use every resource required in order to overcome pressure from governmental and social extremists who want to affix a label on our product. I agree with alcohol and tobacco labeling because science has produced objective evidence that human life is severely altered, and in some cases extinguished, because of the use of these two products.
     "But science has not, nor will it ever, determined that music causes social unrest or incites self-destruction. It is my belief that music is more important to people than any other form of communication. Music will always be the most powerful form of entertainment available to the human mind and spirit."
- Rob Halford, Foundations Forum Keynote Address, 1990
  • Prejudice
     "Over the years, hard rock and heavy metal artists have shouldered an enormous amount of inaccurate rhetoric... What has derived out of this onslaught of negative oral discourse are sound cases of prejudicial attitude and discriminatory policies toward individuals and groups within these two cultures.
     "Heavy metal and hard rock music have been accused of inciting and condoning action which goes against society's norms. In essence, our brand of music is said to be the cause of a large percentage of the social problems within today's world.
     "I am here to tell you that this is nothing more than an elaborate smoke-screen. It has been constructed to divert attention from where it rightfully belongs: And that is with the politicians who mislead, and the religious and social groups who work hard to reshape the world in their own distorted images.
     "At the heart of this confrontation are individuals who choose to call themselves moralists. These individuals are not social scientists. They have no formal education in what causes social unrest, and if they did, they would definitely see that hard rock and heavy metal music are one form of opium to social discontent.
     "The efforts of these self-described moralists are counter-productive to the peaceful evolution of humanity...
     "I am glad that some people consider the name Judas Priest, and its music to be controversial. Because if it is controversial, it stimulates people.
     "These groups of self-described moralists are prepared to go a long way. But their practices of misleading the poor and uneducated for donations to fight ridiculous topics like Satanism, communism, subliminal messages, et cetera, are rapidly becoming exposed as a method of financing attacks on the United States Constitution - a document which most of the misguided, the intellectuals of the world, and Americans consider to be one of the most important pieces of literature ever produced by man."
- Rob Halford, Foundations Forum Keynote Address, 1990
  • Music
     "We, as artists, are not any different physically than the generations of yesterday. Our philosophy and outlook, though, have changed. But that is because we are adapting to the changes which the world has undergone. Time changes everything and everyone. Some are more open to change than others.
     "The most positive aspect, which by the way needs to realized and accepted by everyone in this world, is that hard rock and heavy metal musicians have created a brand of music which can speak about every issue in life. Heavy metal and hard rock are the only brands of music which can lay claim to that assertion.
     "Rock and metal music are not one dimensional, which a lot of people would like to have you believe.
     "The music of hard rock and heavy metal recreate life. Life with its good times and bad times. And even though our brand of music allows such freedom, we never condone every event or experience we touch upon."
- Rob Halford, Foundations Forum Keynote Address, 1990
  • Community
     "The principle law of the hard rock and heavy metal cultures is caring. We care for our fans. We care for our society. And we care for what happens on this planet."
- Rob Halford, Foundations Forum Keynote Address, 1990
  • Creativity
     "You writers and performers of today and tomorrow should continually challenge yourself to deliver the best product you are capable of producing. Use every resource you are capable of using. Continually make use of your experiences to further your career.
     "There are some types of rock and metal music that are just as disposable as some types of dance music, and I think that a lot of artists are beginning to realize this.
     "Creativity derives out of being receptive, understanding and objective toward everything you personally witness or experience."
- Rob Halford, Foundations Forum Keynote Address, 1990
  • Success
     "As an artist, you should look at what you want to accomplish in this industry as a profession, as a career. I believe that everyone who succeeds begins with a dream. Your dreams will carry you through the tough times. Prepare yourself for a very long and tough ride.
- Rob Halford, Foundations Forum Keynote Address, 1990
  • The Fans
     "Being accessible to our fans has paid big dividends. Because we are approachable, our fans take the opportunity to disclose comments on what they like and dislike about our material. Not only do we respect this form of feedback, but we listen too. We have never lost sight of the importance of our fans. Judas Priest has, and will continue, to provide an alternative form of music to the audiences of this world.
     "We have been reminded, time and time again, that a lot of people have grown up with Judas Priest, and I believe that our relationship with those people runs parallel to the relationship that Elvis Presley had with his fans. In that context, I personally believe that Judas Priest is the Elvis Presley of heavy metal. It is an honor to attain this level of respect from our fans, and from the music world."
- Rob Halford, Foundations Forum Keynote Address, 1990
  • Organization
     "The attacking groups in the world today have one attribute which performers do not possess. That attribute is organization. Because the assailing groups are well-organized, well-funded, and because they have used their monetary resources to favorably influence political personalities, these groups have gained a high-profile platform from which to communicate. I am suggesting to all artists today, artists especially within the music industry, that it is time to form a coalition which will construct a wall of defense to shield all individual artists, and bands, against the attacks of the aggressive groups in the world today.
     "By forming our own coalition, we can unifiably defend ourselves against misconceptions and complaints against our form of art."
- Rob Halford, Foundations Forum Keynote Address, 1990
  • Comfort
     "In times of pain, trouble, conflict, and emotional upset, heavy metal and hard rock music delivers bliss to every individual who seeks support. It is a form of apparatus which lends itself to the need for up-righting oneself when the strength to stand or endure is demanded. It is a form of escapism when a diversion is desired."
- Rob Halford, Foundations Forum Keynote Address, 1990

The keynote address ended with Rob asking the attendees to remember our soldiers who were sent to Saudi Arabia and around the world:
     "Times like this have a profound way of reminding us of the fact that a tremendous amount of blood has been spilt over the last 200 plus years, which as a result, is why we are able to enjoy the type of life we currently do. Let us not forget to continually provide support to the individuals which make up our military, and let us make sure that we are there for them when they return home."
- Rob Halford, Foundations Forum Keynote Address, 1990


The curiosity of the fans didn't stop with the music and the new stage outfits; as each new release came out, there grew an ever more curious question of, 'What will Rob's hairstyle look like this time around?'

Though K.K. Downing once got a perm, for the most part, the guys in Judas Priest have carried the same basic look, but frontman Rob Halford always kept us on our toes:

Long mane, 1974-1975 
Black dye, 1976-1977
Feathered with beard, 1978


Poodle-perm, 1980


Short crop, 1981-1984


Mullet, 1986


Ponytail, 1988


Buzzed, 1990


Bald, 1991



 So it came as a bit of a shock when this time around, Rob shaved his head completely bald! No "hair" metal here!

     "I was going bald; I didn't want to go out looking like that guy [Fish] from Marillion or Phil Collins - fuck that."
- Rob Halford, Metal Hammer, January 2004

     "Long hair and heavy metal, ok it goes hand-in-hand, but it's not important for me, it's what comes out of your mouth, out of your heart, you know, that's the most important thing. And I think the way I look, at least I hope, is a bit different to everybody else, and it's all about trying to be original."
- Rob Halford, 1990

     "I always liked short hair... Not having fluffy hair was just part of my personal statement - I was never a fashion victim.
     "I think the first thing a man should do when he's gone bald is shave the rest of his head. There's nothing worse than a guy in a rug or a hair weave or whatever. This thing about masculinity and how it connects to long hair is something that I never really understood."

- Rob Halford,
eye Weekly, March 26, 1998

     "Yeah, actually, my hair is too long at the moment, I gotta shave it off! I haven't had a haircut in two weeks. I just get my clippers and just do it myself, you know... But it's great, 'cause Ken and Glenn go on teasing their hair before they go on stage, and I'm just standing there, 'Oh, come on!' When I wake up in the morning, I look like the same as when I went to bed! Everybody else wakes up with their hair, and it's like, 'Oh my God... So I decided to get rid of it! It's true that I'm probably the only rocker who doesn't have long hair, and that's just part of my constant desire to be different. Not to be repetitious. I think everybody that's a Priest fan, maybe, looks forward to seeing, 'What's Rob gonna look like this time?' You know?
     "I've gone away from what I call the 'designer heavy metal' - I don't wanna do that anymore. I enjoyed it when I was doing it, but now I'm more hardcore. This is my hardcore metal phase."

- Rob Halford, Radio MCB, February 2, 1991


Painkiller Hell Patrol All Guns Blazing Leather Rebel Metal Meltdown Night Crawler  Between The Hammer & The Anvil
A Touch Of Evil Battle Hymn One Shot At Glory Living Bad Dreams

1. Painkiller
G.Tipton/R.Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead: middle: Glenn; end: KK
Performed live in: 1990-1991, 1998, 2001-2002, 2004-2005
Available live versions: '98 Live Meltdown, Live In London (Video 2002, audio 2003), Disney House Of Blues (DEP 2003), various bootlegs

     "An archetypal metal moment, about this fantastic creature that personifies metal: The evil, the energy and the destruction."
- Rob Halford, Metal Hammer, January 2004

     "I've always enjoyed the fast ones! Priest have always covered many aspects of metal but first and foremost, we're known for stuff like 'Painkiller'."
- Glenn Tipton, METAL WORKS liner note, 1993

     "This Painkiller character is some kind of crusading metal mercenary that goes across the universe bringing his message of molten mayhem to all he can find. He's a reasonably nice person..."
- Rob Halford, 1990

     "You might hear a soundscape where violence, aggression and pain are leavened with hopelessness, but that's just an interpretation. There's hopefulness and optimism in the adventures of the Painkiller.
     "The album takes on tough topics, but it ends up with a guy riding off into the sunset and everything's wonderful with the world.
     "You take a hopeless situation and turn it around, and if you work hard and do the right things, then some good will inevitably come out of a disastrous situation. And that's life in general. Let's face it, when you're 15 or 16 and you're confused, your body's changing, your head's changing because of what's going on in the world, your best friend at that time is generally music. Nothing makes sense until you go home and turn on your Walkman or your radio, and there's the music. There's your friend, there is somebody that you can relate to, somebody who understands your problems and conditions, who has the same dreams and aspirations in life. It comes back to the remarkable unifying power metal has with its audience - they never forget you."
- Rob Halford, Voice Of America, 1990

     "Even our songs of fantasy have realistic virtues to them."
- Rob Halford, Foundations Forum Keynote Address, 1990

     "I always call Rob Halford the Painkiller to his face, which he hates, but Rob is one of the nicest people you can ever meet, and Glenn Tipton is one of the funniest. They're one of the bands I've always enjoyed shooting live...great live band."
- Ross Halfin, official photographer, personal website

Faster than a bullet
Terrifying scream
Enraged and full of anger
He's half man and half machine

Rides the Metal Monster
Breathing smoke and fire
Closing in with vengeance soaring high

He is the Painkiller
This is the Painkiller

Planets devastated
Mankind's on its knees
A saviour comes from out the skies
In answer to their pleas

Through boiling clouds of thunder
Blasting bolts of steel
Evil's going under deadly wheels

Faster than a lazer bullet
Louder than an atom bomb
Chromium plated boiling metal
Brighter than a thousand suns

Flying high on rapture
Stronger free and brave
Nevermore encaptured
They've been brought back from the grave

With mankind resurrected
Forever to survive
Returns from Armageddon to the skies

Wings of steel Painkiller
Deadly wheels Painkiller

This unrecorded lyric taken from the PAINKILLER tourbook may have been an early bridge to the title track:

Roaring thunder blasts inside you
Punching deep through flesh and bone
Razor lights in blinding fury
Cut the night and spear the ground
Hot 'n' heavy heads on fire
Steel and leather megatron
Forged in union for our glory
Melting down 'til we are one

2. Hell Patrol
G.Tipton/R.Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead: split - KK/Glenn

     "A unifying song. It's about ourselves and our fans in a fantasy world, coming together as an army of rock."
- Rob Halford, Metal Hammer, January 2004

Like wild fire
Comes roaring
Mad whirlwind
Burning the road

Black thunder
White lightning
Speed demons cry
The Hell Patrol

Night riders
Death dealers
Storm bringers
Tear up the ground

Fist flying
Eyes blazing
They're glory bound
The Hell Patrol

Brutalize you
Neutralize you
Gonna go for your throat as you choke
Then they'll vaporapeize you

Terrorize you
Pulverize you
Gonna cut to the bone as you groan
And they'll paratamize you

Chrome Masters
Steel Warriors
Soul Stealers
Ripping out hearts
They're Devil Dogs
The Hell Patrol

3. All Guns Blazing
G.Tipton/R.Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead: Glenn
Performed live in: 1990-1991

     "It's about really going for it, asserting yourself and allowing nobody to stand in your way. A truly great song to sing live."
- Rob Halford, Metal Hammer, January 2004

Twisting the strangle grip won't give no mercy
Feeling those tendons rip torn up and mean

Twisting the strangle grip won't give no mercy
Feeling those tendons rip torn up and mean
Blastmaster racks the ground bent on survival
Full throttle hammers down -- a deadly scream

All Guns, All Guns Blazing

Forced into overdrive, drawn out of anger
All talons poison dipped -- impaling spike
Heart pounding fever pitch, blood pumping fury
Two fisted dynamo, eager to strike

Cross cutting thundercharge, blade of destruction
Flame throwing hurricane destroys the cage
Bone crushing alien, god of salvation
Sad wings that heaven sent wipe out in rage

4. Leather Rebel
G.Tipton/R.Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead :Glenn & KK harmonizing together; runs at end of lead: KK
Performed live in: 1990
Available live versions: PAINKILLER Re-Master bonus track

     "A reinvention of our song "Hell Bent For Leather", about the people that come to Priest shows. To be a metalhead you need to be rebellious and they wear leather, so...
There is a fine line between being cheesy and being able to stand there and feel good about what you do. We have always been able to handle that. We could play 'Leather Rebel' again tomorrow and get away with it because it is genuine. No other band can create these characters and make them work the way we do."
- Rob Halford, Metal Hammer, January 2004

Hero of the night
Blood and thunder rushing through me
Till the dawn of light
The sky is turning red

Like a renegade
All alone I walk through fire
Till I crash and blaze
I'm living on the edge

Start a chain reaction
Sears the neon light
Stealing all the action
Always takes the fight

Leather Rebel
Lightning in the dark
Leather Rebel
With a burning heart

Master of the streets
Bullet proof and bound for glory
Cities at my feet
I'm turning on the power

Running wild and free
No-one dares to stand before me
That's my destiny
To rule the darkest hours

I can see my future
Writings on the wall
Legend in my lifetime
Stories will recall

5. Metal Meltdown
G.Tipton/R.Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead: intro lead: split - KK/Glenn; main lead: split into 4 parts - KK/Glenn/KK/Glenn
Performed live in: 1990, 1998
Available live versions: '98 Live Meltdown

     "Another bizarre lead break! I remember that solo was the very last bit of the album to be recorded. We were laying it down in one room while everybody else was mixing next door."
- K.K. Downing, METAL WORKS liner note, 1993

     "Definitive Priest. Searing guitars, blast furnaces, playing so fast that you almost melt!"
- Glenn Tipton, Metal Hammer, January 2004

Something's calling
In the night
Electric madness
Roars in sight

Heat is rising
Blazing fast
Hot and evil
Feel the blast

Out of control
About to explode
It's coming at ya

Here comes the Metal Meltdown
Run for your lives
Can't stop the Metal Meltdown
No-one survives

Raging fury
Wired for sound
Nitro bombshell
Shakes the ground

High and mighty
Rips the air
Piercing lazer
Burning glaze

Temperature is boiling
Magnifying might
Feeding like a virus
Flashing light

Imminent collision
Shockwaves all around
Generating energy
Screams so loud

It's comin' - Meltdown
Start runnin' - Countdown

6. Night Crawler
G.Tipton/R.Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead: Glenn & KK harmonizing together
Performed live in: 1990-1991, 1998
Available live versions: '98 Live Meltdown

     "My favorite on the album. The night crawler could be anything you want it to be - everyone saw something different."
- Glenn Tipton, Metal Hammer, January 2004

     " 'Night Crawler' was recorded at Miraval Studios, an old chateau in the south of France. Every time I hear it I think of that partly ruined chateau and its spooky chapel. I listen to that middle, talking bit - 'Fingernails start scratching/On the outside wall/Clawing at the windows/'Come to me!' it calls... and I remember how sometimes at night we'd go out to take a breath of fresh air but we'd always give the chapel a wide berth, 'cause I think that's where the embryo of the Night Crawler still lurks."
- Glenn Tipton, Metal Works liner note, 1993

Howling winds keep screaming 'round
And the rain comes pouring down
Doors are locked and bolted now
As the thing crawls into town

Straight out of hell
One of a kind
Stalking his victim
Don't look behind you

Beware the beast in black
You know he's coming back
Night Crawler

Sanctuary is being sought
Whispered prayers a last resort
Homing in its' cry distorts
Terror struck they know they're caught

As night is falling
The end is drawing near
They'll hear
Their last rites echo on the wind

Huddled in the cellar
Fear caught in their eyes
Daring not to move or breathe
As the creature cries
Fingernails start scratching
On the outside wall
Clawing at the windows
'Come to me' it calls
Atmosphere's electric
As it now descend the stairs
Hiding in the darkness
Is so futile from its glare
Death comes in an instant
As they hoped it would
Souls ascend to heaven
While it feasts on flesh and blood

7. Between The Hammer & The Anvil
G.Tipton/R.Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead:split - KK/Glenn
Performed live in: 1990

Rob Halford says 'Between The Hammer And The Anvil' is the only track on PAINKILLER that overtly refers to the Nevada case in its lyrics.

     " 'Between The Hammer And The Anvil' is, in an abstract way, how we consider ourselves to be, the hammer being the judge's gavel, the anvil being society, and we are stuck in the middle."
- Rob Halford, Toronto, 1990

     "It's all about choice. The consequences of turning left or right in the street."
- Rob Halford, Metal Hammer, January 2004

Storm warning
But there's no fear
Lies forming
The sacrament lays bare

The sinner
Will testify
They'll suffer
When sacrificed on high

The burning sermons purge their evil words
Between the Hammer and the Anvil

Force rises
False rituals
The body and the soul

Our union
Their fall from grace
Confession (confess your sins)
Will seal them to their fate

They prey on grief
Our mission
To purify belief

This altar
Gives power and light
They'll falter
While we are shining bright

Storm warning
But there's no fear

8. A Touch Of Evil
G.Tipton/R.Halford/K.K. Downing/C. Tsangarides
Lead: Glenn
Performed live in: 1990, 1998, 2001-2002, 2004-2005
Available live versions: '98 Live Meltdown, Live In London (Video 2002, audio 2003)

     "One of the best power ballads that Priest ever wrote. It's a love song, and we've had many of those - we just don't mention the word 'love'. "
- Rob Halford, Metal Hammer, January 2004

     "Chris Tsangerides always was a bit of a riff merchant!"
- Rob Halford, Metal Works liner note, 1993

     "The crowning achievement of the band's career. A churning, gothic number that was co-written by album producer Chris Tsangarides, it spotlighted an incredible solo section interweaving inspired leads with three rhythm tracks, two of them played on acoustic guitar!"
- Bryan Reesman, METALOGY liner note, 2004

You mesmerize slowly
Till I can't believe my eyes
Ecstasy controls me
What you give just serves me right

Without warning you're here
Like magic you appear
I taste the fear

I'm so afraid
But I still feed the flame

In the night
Come to me
You know I want your touch of evil
In the night
Please set me free
I can't resist a touch of evil

Aroused with desire
You put me in a trance
A vision of fire
I never had a chance

A dark angel of sin
Preying deep from within
Come take me in

Arousing me now with a sense of desire
Possessing my soul till my body's on fire

You're possessing me

9. Battle Hymn
G.Tipton/R.Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead: no specific lead break

     "A short instrumental scene-setter for the song that follows."
- Glenn Tipton, Metal Hammer, January 2004

10. One Shot At Glory
G.Tipton/R.Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead: split into 3 parts - KK/Glenn/Glenn & KK harmonizing together; outro: Glenn

     "Very melodic, but very metal. We've always placed lots of importance on melody, which some say is wrong, but fuck those people."
- Glenn Tipton, Metal Hammer, January 2004

     "Everyone asks me, 'What does 'One Shot At Glory' have to do with PAINKILLER?' Actually it came from something I said to K.K. one time when I was pissed. It was back in like 1984! Ken said, 'Hey man why don't we write a song about glory' and then he seen the beer in my hand and he sarcastically said, 'You should be drinking lite' and I said, 'Ken, listen I can smell your stinky shit a mile away, ok; you just stay clear from me'.
     "It was funny as hell, and then he wrote the guitar riff right before the second verse - and I liked it, so I apologized to him."
- Glenn Tipton

Let me hear the battle cry
Calling on the wind
Let me see the banners fly
Before the storm begins

Let me feel the spirits soar
Destroy the enemy
Striking at the evil core
For all the world to see

This day will last forever
Deep in the hearts of men
Courage and victory
Remember, remember

One Shot At Glory
In the crossfire overhead
Fate stands before me
Words have all been said

One Shot At Glory
Driving hard and seeing red
Destiny calls me
One night of fire, one shot at glory

Fighting on with dignity
In life and death we deal
The power and the majesty
Amidst the blood and steel

I still hear the battle cry
The call goes on and on
I still see the banners fly
The battle's always won

I still hear the battle cry!
I still see the banners fly!

11. Living Bad Dreams
RE-MASTERS Bonus Track

G.Tipton/R.Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead: intro harmonics: KK; licks: split - Glenn/Glenn & KK harmonizing together; lead: Glenn

     "Why we decided not to release this track is still a mystery to us, as we feel it too would have been destined to become a classic."
PAINKILLER Re-Master liner note, 2002

I'm hypnotized and helpless
Beneath the pale full moon
My body is your sacrifice
Your spirit's coming soon

I stare up at a squalid night
It's been so cold and smooth
Turns tender kisses into bites
As you begin to move

You look so weak and fragile
You seem to drip and sway
But you swept me up into your arms
And carried me away

I'm living bad dreams
I can't run from you
I'm living bad dreams
This nightmare's coming true

You led me to temptation
Delivered me to pain
I walked upon your hallowed ground
My soul is yours to gain

Your passion drains my energy
Fear starts running deep
I'm falling in slow motion
Into eternal sleep

I'm living bad dreams
I can't run from you
I'm living bad dreams
There's nothing I can do

I'm living bad dreams ohh ohh
I don't want bad dreams
Living bad dreams  

All songs published by EMI Songs Ltd. except "A Touch Of Evil" published by EMI Songs Ltd./Zomba Music Publishers Ltd.
Lead breaks are taken from the PAINKILLER Re-Master liner notes


1990/91 Tour Program

Back of the 1990/91 tour T-shirt


Rob Halford - v, Glenn Tipton - g, K.K. Downing - g, Ian Hill - b, Scott Travis - d

Tour Manager: Ian Jeffery
Production Manager: Bill Martin
Stage Manager: Tom Calcaterra

SETLIST (Orange titles are from the current album)

From the September 13 Concrete Foundations Forum pre-tour show:
Riding On The Wind/Drum Solo
Heading out To The Highway
Between The Hammer And The Anvil
Leather Rebel
The Green Manalishi (With The 2-Pronged Crown)
Hell Bent For Leather
Better By You, Better Than Me
You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Living After Midnight

From the October 18 Montreal show:
Hell Bent for Leather
The Hellion/ Electric Eye
All Guns Blazing
Between The Hammer And The Anvil
Metal Gods
Night Crawler
The Ripper
Beyond The Realms Of Death
Metal Meltdown/Drum Solo
A Touch of Evil
Victim Of Changes
The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)
You've Got Another Thing Comin'

Interesting to note, "Breaking The Law" and "Living After Midnight", two of their most popular radio hits, were not included in this early PAINKILLER set list, though they would appear on later dates!

From the December 3 Dayton, Ohio show:
Hell Bent For Leather
The Hellion/ Electric Eye
All Guns Blazing
The Sentinel
Metal Gods
Night Crawler
The Ripper
Beyond The Realms Of Death
Riding On The Wind/Drum Solo
A Touch Of Evil
Victim Of Changes
The Green Manalishi (With The 2-Pronged Crown)
Breaking The Law
Living After Midnight

There were two different basic stage sets utilized for this tour, based mainly on the size of the venue the band played in:

A member of the crew on this tour was none other than Glenn Tipton's older brother Gary, who served as Glenn's guitar tech!

Noted rock author Garry Sharpe-Young even got to have a hand in the tour:
     "I designed and made Rob Halford's PAINKILLER  jacket - that was just unreal, seeing my metal hero wearing something I'd made!"
- Garry Sharpe-Young, Heavy Metal About: Rockdetector, 2002
North American tour with support from Megadeth and Testament
September 13 Concrete Foundations Forum Los Angeles, CA USA

Bootleg audio exists. Professional video with the performance of "Hell Bent For Leather" and Rob Halford's keynote address exists.

This was Scott Travis' first performance with Judas Priest and Rob Halford was the keynote speaker. The band performs "Better By You, Better Than Me" for the first time in 12 years as a response to the trial they had just emerged victorious from. As Rob announces from the stage:

     "Here's the song that was the source of all that trouble..."
- Rob Halford, Concrete Foundations, 1990

Rob with friends at Foundations Forum
L-R: Rob Halford; Slash; a fan; Sebastian Bach

(Picture courtesy of Ken Morrison)

October 18 The Forum Montreal Canada Bootleg audio and video exists
October 19 Colisee de Quebec Quebec City Canada  
October 22 Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto Canada Bootleg audio and video exists
October 25 The Arena Winnipeg Canada Bootleg audio exists
October 28 Olympic Saddledome Calgary Canada  
October 29 Northlands Coliseum Edmonton Canada  
October 31 PNE Coliseum Vancouver Canada  
November 1 Memorial Coliseum Portland, OR USA Bootleg audio exists
November 2 Coliseum Spokane, WA USA  
November 3 Lawlor Events Center Reno, NV USA Bootleg audio and video exists

Only a couple of months following the subliminal message/suicide trial, Priest returned to the city for a scheduled show, where the band, their promoter, and their merchandiser donated proceeds to the Community Runaway Youth Services.

November 4 ARCO Arena Sacramento, CA USA Bootleg audio exists
November 5 Coliseum Oakland, CA USA Bootleg audio and video exists
November 7 Activity Center Tempe, AZ USA  
November 8 Forum Arena Los Angeles, CA USA Bootleg audio exists
November 9 Irvine Meadows Laguna Hills, CA USA Bootleg audio exists
November 10 Sporta Arena San Diego, CA USA Bootleg audio exists of the November 10 show
November 11
November 12 Salt Palace Salt Lake City, UT USA  
November 14 UTEP Special Events Center El Paso, TX USA  
November 16 Convention Center San Antonio, TX USA  
November 17 Reunion Arena Dallas, TX USA  
November 18 The Summit Houston, TX USA Bootleg audio and video exists
November 20 McNichols Arena Denver, CO USA  
November 21 Tingley Coliseum Albuquerque, NM USA  
November 23 Expo Center Tulsa, OK USA  
November 24 Municipal Auditorium Kansas City, MO USA  
November 25 Civic Auditorium Omaha, NE USA  
November 27 Ohio Center Columbus, OH USA  
November 28 Rosemont Horizon Chicago, IL USA  
November 29 Civic Center St. Paul, MN USA Bootleg audio exists
December 1 Market Square Arena Indianapolis, IN USA  
December 2 Richfield Coliseum Cleveland, OH USA  
December 3 Hara Arena Dayton, OH USA Bootleg audio and video exists
December 5 The Palace Detroit, MI USA Bootleg audio and broadcast video exists
December 6 War Memorial Coliseum Rochester, NY USA Bootleg audio exists
December 7 Centrum Worchester, MA USA  
December 8 New Haven Coliseum New Haven, CT USA Bootleg audio and video exists
December 9 Capitol Center Largo, MD USA Bootleg audio and video exists
December 11 The Omni Atlanta, GA USA  
December 13 Coliseum Hampton, VA USA  
December 14 Meadowlands Arena East Rutherford, NJ USA Bootleg audio exists
December 15 Nassau Coliseum Uniondale, NY USA Bootleg video exists
December 16 The Spectrum Philadelphia, PA USA Bootleg audio and video exists
December 17 Civic Arena Pittsburgh, PA USA  
December 19 Coliseum Charlotte, NC USA  
December 20 The Arena Miami, FL USA Bootleg audio and video exists
December 21   Tampa Bay, FL USA  
December 23 Lakeland Orlando, FL USA Bootleg video exists

TOUR DATES 1991: Operation Rock 'N' Roll Tour

Rob Halford - v, Glenn Tipton - g, K.K. Downing - g, Ian Hill - b, Scott Travis - d

Tour Manager: Ian Jeffery
Production Manager: Bill Martin
Stage Manager: Tom Calcaterra

SETLIST (Orange titles are from the current album)

From the July 12 Irvine Meadows show:
Hell Bent for Leather*
Headed out to the Highway
Hellion/ Electric Eye
Diamonds and Rust
All Guns Blazing
Metal Gods
Some Heads are Gonna Roll
The Ripper
Night Crawler
A Touch of Evil
The Green Manalishi*
Breaking the Law
Living after Midnight*
You've Got Another Thing Coming*

*featured on ABC IN-CONCERT TV broadcast

North American tour continues with support from Megadeth and Testament

Picture İ Ross Halfin

January 9 Cumberland County Civic Center Portland, ME USA Bootleg audio exists
January 10 Broom County Arena Binghamton, NY USA Bootleg audio and video exists
January 12 Civic Center Providence, RI USA Bootleg audio exists
January 14 Knickerbocker Arena Albany, NY USA Bootleg audio exists
January 15 Kingston Armory Kingston, PA USA  
January 16 Sports Arena Toledo, OH USA Bootleg video exists
January 17 Wings Stadium Kalamazoo, MI USA Bootleg audio exists
January 18   Pittsburg, PA USA Bootleg audio exists
Rock In Rio II with Megadeth, Guns N' Roses, Queensr˙che, Faith No More and Sepultura
January 23 Maracana Stadium Rio De Janeiro Brazil Bootleg audio and broadcast video exists

Rock In Rio II marked the first time the band played in South America and it was in a huge way, before some quarter-million wild and hungry fans!

Another first for Judas Priest was getting to play behind the Iron Curtain and visiting some of the previously taboo ex-Eastern Bloc countries:

European and British tour with support from Pantera and Annihilator, performing in Eastern bloc countries for the first time.

Pantera's street-tough American hardcore metal gained the attention and admiration of Rob Halford, who caught the band during their Cowboys From Hell tour. Rob invited them to open for Judas Priest on the European leg of the Painkiller tour, and a friendship was formed that would play several pivotal roles in Rob's career path.

January 31 KB Hallen Copenhagen Denmark  
February 1 Scandinavium Gothenburg Sweden Bootleg audio and video exists
February 2 Isstadion Globe Arena Stockholm Sweden Bootleg audio and video exists
February 4 Ishallen Helsinki Finland  
February 6 Rockefeller Oslo Norway Bootleg audio exists
February 8 Grugahalle Essen Germany Bootleg video exists
February 9 Sporthalle Hamburg Germany Bootleg audio exists
February 11 Eissporthalle Berlin Germany  
February 12 Eilenriedhalle Hannover Germany Bootleg audio exists
February 14 Saarlandhalle Saarbrücken Germany Bootleg audio and video exists
February 15 Oberschwabenhalle Ravensburg Germany  
February 16 Carl Diem Halle Würzburg Germany Bootleg audio exists
February 18 Stadthalle Offenbach Germany Bootleg audio exists
February 19 Olympiahalle Munich Germany Bootleg audio and video exists
February 20 B.A. Zelt Vienna Austria  
February 21 Icestadium Graz Austria  
February 23 Festhalle Lüzern Switzerland Bootleg audio exists
February 24 Stadhalle Bolzano Italy Bootleg audio exists
February 25 Tivoli Ljubljana Yugoslavia  
February 26 Dom Sportova Zagreb Yugoslavia Bootleg broadcast video exists
March 1 Tendastrice Rome Italy Bootleg audio exists
March 2 Palasport Brescia Italy Bootleg audio and video exists
March 4 Hans Martin Schleyerhalle Stuttgart Germany Bootleg audio exists
March 5 Eberthalle Ludwigshafen Germany Bootleg audio exists
March 6 Rhein Moselhalle Koblenz Germany Bootleg audio exists
March 8 The Bullring Zaragoza Spain Bootleg audio and video exists
March 9 Velodromo Anoeta San Sebastian Spain Bootleg audio exists
March 10 Palacio des Deportes Madrid Spain  
March 12 Le Transbourdeur Lyon France  
March 13 Resiello LissabonPortugal Bootleg audio exists
March 15 Rijnhal Arnhem Holland Bootleg video exists
March 16 Forest National Brussels Belgium Bootleg audio and video exists
March 17 Le Zenith Paris France Bootleg video exists
March 19 Leisure Centre Aston Villa England Bootleg audio exists
March 20 Apollo Manchester England Bootleg audio exists
March 22 Hammersmith Odeon Theatre London England Bootleg audio exists
March 23
March 24 Centre Newport England Bootleg audio exists
March 26 City Hall Sheffield England Bootleg audio exists
March 27 City Hall Newcastle England Bootleg audio exists
March 28 Playhouse Edinburgh Scotland Bootleg audio exists
March 30 Ulster Hall Belfast Northern Ireland Bootleg audio exists
March 31 S.F.X. Dublin Ireland Bootleg audio exists

Priest with Annihilator guitarist
Jeff Waters in Dublin

Alaskan tour

April 6 Carlson Center Fairbanks, AKUSA  
April 7 Egan Center Anchorage, AKUSA  
April 8
     "The Anchorage show was going to be booked at the Sullivan on the 7th, but the venue was occupied this date, so they played two shows instead at the much smaller Egan center. Egan Center was better for me as it holds less than 3000 people. It was also the loudest show I have been at to date, and I've seen a lot!"
- Eyewitness report

Photos from Alaskan press

Japan tour

April 12 Osaka Festival Hall OsakaJapan Bootleg audio and video exists
April 13 Japan Arena Yokohama Japan Bootleg audio exists
April 14 NHK Hall Tokyo Japan Bootleg audio exists
April 15 Yoyogi Olympic Pool Tokyo Japan Bootleg audio exists

Operation Rock 'N' Roll American tour (in honor of US forces involved in Operation Desert Storm) with co-headliner Alice Cooper and support from Motörhead, Dangerous Toys and Metal Church

Rob Halford, Alice Cooper


     "Judas Priest thought they were the biggest 'rock stars' and were real pains-in-the-ass to deal with...except for Rob Halford."
- Alice Cooper, Metal Sludge, 2001

     "We rode down Sunset Boulevard in a tank..."
- Alice Cooper, KDKB, March 30, 2004

     "Me and Alice in a tank at eleven o'clock in the morning... is this rock n roll, or what? We're peering over the top of this tank, going up Sunset, traffic is standing still, there's cars rear-ending each other, and, 'Oh my God, is that Alice Cooper and Rob Halford in a tank together?' "
- Rob Halford, KDKB, March 30, 2004

     "When we look back in hindsight, it was probably the last tour that went out before no tours went out. It was the end of the wonderful period. I know that the Ozzfest went out and that did well, but I'm talking about tours going out in abundance in the summer and all doing well. It was just a start of the big live recession that we're still experiencing."
- K.K. Downing, Goldmine, June 5, 1998

     "I have hung out with Lemmy, Alice Cooper, Rob Halford and Brian May, I can die a happy man."
- Jason McMaster, (Vocalist for Dangerous Toys), Glam-Metal, 2002

July 9 Salt Palace Acord Arena Salt Lake City, UT USA  
July 12 Irvine Meadows Laguna Hills, CA USA Bootleg audio and video exists

Professionally filmed for ABC's IN-CONCERT broadcast

July 13 Cal-Expo Amphitheatre Sacramento, CA USA Bootleg audio exists
These two California shows included a rare return of the song "Turbo Lover" to the setlist:
     "Come through this stuff, come back to the TURBO album. Hey, why the hell not? I'm your 'Turbo Lover'."
- Rob Halford, 1991
July 14 Shoreline Amphitheater Mountain View, CA USA Bootleg audio exists
July 16 Red Rocks Denver, CO USA  
July 17 Salt Palace Salt Lake City, UT USA  
July 18 5 Seasons Arena Cedar Rapids, IA USA  
July 19 Target Center Minneapolis, MN USA  
July 20 The World Chicago, IL USA  
July 21 Starwood Amphitheater Nashville, TN USA  
July 23 The Sundome Tampa, FL USA  
July 24 Orlando Arena Orlando, FL USA Bootleg audio and video exists
July 25 Lakewood Amphitheater Atlanta, GA USA  
July 27 The Summit Houston, TX USA  
July 28 Starplex Amphitheatre Dallas, TX USA  
July 30 Palladium Carowinds Charlotte, NC USA  
July 31 Walnut Creek Raleigh, NC USA  
August 2 Starlake Amphietheater Pittsburg, PA USA  
August 3 Pine Knob Detriot, MI USA Broadcast video exists
August 4 Hollyday Star Theater Merryville, IN USA Bootleg audio exists
August 6 Deer Creek Music Center Noblesville, IN USA This show is many times mistakenly listed as Indianapolis, IN

     "The only thing that got the crowd kinda upset was Rob saying, 'It's Friday night in Indianapolis and the Priest is back'. We were in Noblesville. And when he wanted the crowd to sing a line he'd say, 'Come on Indianapolis, Indiana!'."
- Eyewitness, 2004
August 7 Richfield Coliseum Richfield, OH USA  
August 8 Weedsport Weedsport, NY USA Bootleg audio exists
August 9 Meadowlands Arena East Rutherford, NJ USA Bootleg audio exists
August 10 The Spectrum Philadelphia, PA USA Bootleg video exists
August 11 Lake Compuce Bristol, CT USA  
August 13 Seapac Portland, ME USA  
August 14 Great Woods Boston, MA USA  
August 15 Capital Center Landover, MD USA  
August 16 Middletown Speedway Middletown, NY USA Bootleg audio and video exists
August 17 The Forum Montreal Canada Bootleg audio exists
August 19 CNE Grandstand Toronto Canada Bootleg audio exists

The stage at the CNE Grandstand
was in the middle of a ball field and was accessed by golf carts. The dressing rooms were separated on both ends, so the band members had to access the stage from each side which interfered with communication and cues...
     "We were running late, and suddenly we heard our intro tape running while we were still in the dressing room. So we rushed out onto the stage in a bit of a panic, and loads and loads of dry ice was blowing about. The crew were supposed to have raised a stairway in front of the drum riser, to allow Rob to ride out on his Harley-Davidson and start the show. But the timing went wrong and the stairs were only halfway up. So Rob popped the clutch and roared along, came out from underneath the riser and then collided with the bottom rung of the stairway. The stairs hit him straight on the nose and he fell backwards off his bike. He was so lucky; he could have been killed. Thank God his motorbike didn't end up in the audience!
     "The rest of us started playing the opening number, not knowing what had happened. There was so much smoke that I actually stepped on Rob while he was unconscious, and I thought: 'What's this in the center of the stage, some kind of Priest prop?' And it was Rob! He was stunned."
- Glenn Tipton, Classic Rock, June 25, 2004

Keep that Harley restrained!

What had happened was Rob and Glenn got out to the stage and were ready to go as planned, but the stage crew had a message from the other members that they had not yet arrived so the crew should lower the staircase and start over

What had happened was the crew who were with K.K., Ian and Scott told the stage crew that they were not yet at the stage on time so the staircase should be lowered and raised again for a late cue. But Glenn and Rob had already arrived from the other side on time and were ready to go on, just as the staircase was halfway down and Rob was riding out on his bike.

Rob was knocked out for three minutes while the opening number "Hell Bent For leather" was performed for the only time as an instrumental. Glenn figured Rob's mic had gone down, but when he stepped on Rob, he realized it was Rob, not the mic, that went down! The crew struggled to find Rob through all the stage fog, but they manage to revive him and Rob finished the show with plaster on the bridge of his nose. He was then taken to a local hospital and treated for a concussion.

     "I still have a slightly crooked nose as a testimony to that!"
- Rob Halford

     "I not only fell off the bike, I fell out of the band. I broke my nose and never put it back, so whenever I scratch, it's my permanent memory. Yes, it was Spinal Tap."
- Rob Halford, Metal Hammer, January 2004

Indeed, "storm warning", as Rob began to pursue his own Metal Works...

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