5 Reasons Judas Priest Should Be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Judas Priest's nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame continues a welcome trend. After Deep Purple's recent induction, it's clear the nominating committee is rightfully softening its stance on heavy metal – and more importantly, the roots of the genre. Hailing from the same region of the U.K. which spawned Black Sabbath, Judas Priest has released a string of classics like British Steel and Screaming for Vengeance, becoming a sturdy influence for Metallica and Pantera. Along the way, they delivered instantly memorable, radio-friendly songs like "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" and "Living After Midnight" while retaining a metal edge on standout moments including "Painkiller" and "Revolution." Below, we offer five reasons why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should induct Judas Priest this year.
Metallica's James Hetfield has said that "Judas Priest is everything we wanted to be as a band starting out. If someone asked you to define what heavy metal is, that's one of the bands you'd show them." Yet somehow Metallica has already entered the Rock Hall while Judas Priest are just now getting their first nomination. Considering their impact on legions and legions of metal acts, Judas Priest should be inducted on that merit alone.
The satanic panic of the '80s was an all-out war on heavy metal, and Priest found themselves squarely in the cross hairs. They'd ultimately face a civil suit that accused Judas Priest of putting subliminal messages in their cover of the Spooky Tooth song "Better By You, Better Than Me," leading two Reno, Nevada, men to attempt suicide. (One of them succeeded.) The case was eventually dismissed, but not before Judas Priest stood up against the charges – and, in doing so, defended all of metal-dom.
No band epitomized the metal look more unabashedly than Judas Priest. The leather outfits, the spikes and the studs were appropriated not just by dozens of artists in the '80s and beyond, but by fans who wanted to identify with their idols. It's one thing to be a direct influence on the genre musically, but to have enough clout to determine the entire fashion sense? That's a whole other level. Then you have Rob Halford taking the stage on a Harley-Davidson Low Rider. How could fans resist immediately throwing up the horns?
When Halford came out as a homosexual in 1998, it shattered an important misconception: How could this guy, frontman for the most masculine music genre, be gay? Retrospectively, the signs were there all along, not just in the Metal God's S&M-themed wardrobe, but in the lyrics for songs like "Eat Me Alive," "Grinder" and "Turbo Lover." Like Freddie Mercury before him, however, Halford's revelation changed absolutely nothing in terms of how much people loved Judas Priest. If anything, it brought more fans aboard.
Stumble across the film Rock Star, and it's difficult not to indulge in one of music's guiltiest of pleasures. For Priest fans, the connection is obvious – though the band members may have distanced themselves from it. The story mirrors that of Tim "Ripper" Owens, who was plucked from a Judas Priest cover band following Halford's 1992 departure. It was a dream scenario made even better by the fact that Priest's two albums with Owens,
Jugulator and Demolition, were solid efforts.