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Rob Halford says Judas Priest “were dancing with death” in the early 80s

Judas Priest in 1984
(Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

MHR364 Cover Five Finger Death Punch

(Image credit: Future)

Rob Halford has said Judas Priest were “dancing with death” during the band’s early 80s heyday.

Speaking in the brand new issue of Metal Hammer, Halford and bassist Ian Hill look back on the making of their multi-platinum 1982 album Screaming For Vengeance – and the chaos surrounding it.

“How we got through that record… I don’t know,” Halford tells Metal Hammer. “We were dancing with death. I went into town every night getting absolutely fucking bladdered. Ian drove a rental car into the pond out the front of the studio at four o’clock in the morning, waking everybody up.”

“Where do you think Mötley Crüe got their ideas from?” adds Hill. “We killed several cars, then a couple of motorcycles as well.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Halford concedes that guitarist Glenn Tipton was the band’s most notorious party animal.

“Glenn had some Keith Moon in him,” adds Rob, referring to The Who’s notoriously wild drummer. “He’d go, ‘I’ve got this trick – you don’t need to use the clutch to make a gear change’ and jump from first to third. Eventually the owner of our rental car company calls a meeting. He comes in with an envelope and pours all this white powder out, and I thought, ‘This is either going to be really good, or the other way…’  It was the remains of the clutch and the brakes. So that was it, we had to find another rental company, which was pretty difficult because word had got out around the island.” 

Released in July 1982, Screaming For Vengeance would become Priest’s biggest selling album. According to Halford, the chaos of the recording sessions carried into the subsequent World Vengeance tour.

“There was one incident where a taxi knocked K.K. [Downing, guitars] over while we were in Germany,” Rob says. “Glenn suddenly became this instant medic – he’s going, ‘He needs hot water.’ Somebody rushes off to get a bucket and some towels, dipping them in this hot water and putting them on K.K., who suddenly starts screaming in agony. Glenn says to me later, ‘Worst part is – I was tripping on acid at the time.’

One of Priest’s support bands on the US leg of the World Vengeance tour was Iron Maiden, who had just released The Number Of The Beast.

“I watched them most nights and knew internally, ‘This band is going to be massive,’” Rob says. “Right from the get-go they had a distinctive sound, a distinctive look, attitude, performance onstage… You could sense and feel the love they had for metal. But you could also sense they were hungry.”  

You can read the full interview with Rob Halford and Ian Hill on the making of Screaming For Vengeance in the brand new issue of Metal Hammer, out now. Order your copy here (opens in new tab).

MHR 364 Judas Priest

(Image credit: Future)

Five Finger Death Punch

(Image credit: Future)
Metal Hammer
Metal Hammer

Founded in 1983, Metal Hammer is the global home of all things heavy. We have breaking news, exclusive interviews with the biggest bands and names in metal, rock, hardcore, grunge and beyond, expert reviews of the lastest releases and unrivalled insider access to metal's most exciting new scenes and movements. No matter what you're into – be it heavy metal, punk, hardcore, grunge, alternative, goth, industrial, djent or the stuff so bizarre it defies classification – you'll find it all here, backed by the best writers in our game.