Ripper recalls Priest call-up

Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens has recalled how he got his job with Judas Priest after singing just one line of a song – and says he was the only person who auditioned for the band.

He joined in 1996 after Rob Halford had quit in 1992, but had to bow out when the original frontman returned in 2003.

And he describes the way he landed the position as “a bit of luck.”

Owens tells Akron Buzz: “I don’t think they had a singer for about four years, then they finally looked for a singer. I was really the only singer who auditioned – I went in there and sang one line of a song, and made the band.”

They’d already seen a video of his final performance with a tribute band, and that led to an invitation to make contact with Priest’s management.

Owens recalls: “I get a call saying, ‘You have to call this number – it’s Judas Priest. It’s a lady named Jayne Andrews. I ran and got a Priest album and started looking for her name, and it was there.

“I called and they said, ‘You have a passport? We want to meet you. We don’t know if you’ve got to sing – we want to just see you’re not an LA rock star.’ That was their kind of words.”

The singer, who moved on to work with Iced Earth and Yngwie Malmsteen among other projects, recently said his only regret was appearing on stage riding a motorcycle, just like Halford had. But he insisted: “It wasn’t my idea. The band said, ‘It’s not a Rob thing, it’s a Judas Priest thing.’ But it was a Rob thing.”

He added: “I can’t really regret anything, because it’s allowed me to do everything I’m doing now.

“I knew he was going to come back someday. But I look at my schedule and I’m just slammed with stuff. My experience in Priest paved the way for all of this.”

Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner – who made his studio debut with Priest’s 2014 album Redeemer Of Soulsis nominated for the Dimebag Darrell Shredder Of The Year Award at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods next month.

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Not only is one-time online news editor Martin an established rock journalist and drummer, but he’s also penned several books on music history, including SAHB Story: The Tale of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, a band he once managed, and the best-selling Apollo Memories about the history of the legendary and infamous Glasgow Apollo. Martin has written for Classic Rock and Prog and at one time had written more articles for Louder than anyone else (we think he's second now). He’s appeared on TV and when not delving intro all things music, can be found travelling along the UK’s vast canal network.