Interview with Al Atkins (The Original Judas Priest Singer)

We had the opportunity to chat with Al Atkins, the original singer of Judas Priest, who told us some interesting topics about Judas Priest.

Interview with Al Atkins (The Original Judas Priest Singer)

Al Atkins is no stranger to Judas Priest fans, he was the man who founded the band in the late 60s and gave it its name.

Author of several songs that were included in the first two Judas Priest albums, and co-author of one of the greatest songs in Judas Priest and heavy metal history; Victim Of Changes. I had the opportunity to interview the founder of what is my favorite band of all time, I am infinitely grateful to Al Atkins for his time to answer my questions and for the visual material he provided me, here is the interview with Al Atkins:

Edson: Thanks for your time Allan, a real honor to be able to conduct this short interview with the founderand first vocalist of Judas Priest. There are so many things I'd like to ask, but I'll start with the following: how did you see Judas Priest in the future when you formed the band?

Al Atkins: I thought they had a chance of making a name for themselves in the music world like most good musicians but all bands need that break and a bit of luck…my only downside to them was when they signed to independent label Gull Records for four years ..this could have broken the band up eventually, struggling and playing the same venues that i was playing for four years so it was that bit of luck which saw them sign to a major label half way through Gull’s contract…

E: Following the theme of the beginnings... What were your musical influences?

A: So many from the 60’ and 70’s like The Who, Pink Floyd, Free, Qatermass,Black Sabbath, Led Zepellin and my favourite band Cream

E: I know you left the band for family and financial reasons, but at some point in your life did you regret making that decision?

A: Not really, family comes first everytime… I miss the money they made though  lol… Having said that i haven’t done too bad from them in royalties over the years...

E: Once you left the band, How was your relationship with the band members during their time of greatest popularity? We know that of all the members, your relationship was always closer with Ian and Ken

A: Okay but it was mainly Ian that i kept in touch with over the years , he even played bass on my last solo álbum ‘Reloaded’ which was a look back  at all the songs that i wrote or co wrote back in the day…some great musicians on there too with Ian including John McCoy bass (Gillan) Ralf Scheepers vocals (Primal Fear) Roy Z Ramires guitar (Halford/ Dickinson) and Paul May guitar AMP to name a few…

E: It is incredible the quality of the musicians with whom you are accompanied. Next question... When Rob Halford's departure was announced, did you at any point think about returning to the band?

A: No, but i was asked by KK to go to the auditions and i declined the offer… Rob has a unique voice and they needed a perfect replacement which was going to be hard to find and it wasn’t me and it took four years to find him in Tim Ripper Owens. I remember KK coming to my house and giving me the ‘Metal Works’ double álbum that they had just released and saying how hard it had been to find Rob’s replacement…

E: I know you recorded an album with Dave Holland on drums, could you tell us how was your experience working with Dave?

A: Brilliant, I knew Dave from way back when he played  in Trapeze and when I was recording my 4th solo álbum again with some old Judas Priest songs he was an obvious choice to  play them… He was also recording at the same time in Birminghams at Dep studio’s with Tony Iommi and Glenn Hughes and he was having a fun time  doing both… My álbum took off and Dave and myself had meetings in London to sign with two big labels so all was looking good until i had a call from him one morning telling me not to speak to the press only he had been arrested… His crime was he had molested some 17 year old with learning difficulties who he had been giving drum lessons to… it was all a lie but Dave made a big mistake in not hiring a lawyer and tried to defend himself in court…He got 10 years prison sentence….. After serving his time the truth came out of his innocence but he fled to northern Spain and died of cancer…. Iommi took his drumming off the álbum and mine got shelved. R I P Dave.

E: Personally, I think your vocal range is incredible, at some point did any band try to approach you to be their lead vocalist?

A: Thanks but no but i have appeared on various albums though has a guest singer…

E: Taking into account Judas Priest's wide discography, could you mention your favorite album of the band?

A: I love Painkiller but my favorite has to be ‘’’Sad Wings of Destiny’’...

E: How is your current relationship with Judas Priest? Have you had any recent approaches with them?

A: No but i have been in talks with Reach Publishers , USA who have bought the rights to the first two albums of Judas Priest from Gull Records which  has three songs of mine on the first and two on the second and we will see a new re mixed Rocka Rolla álbum released this year celebrating 50 years since it’s first release…

E: I don't want to get into controversy, but what do you think of Judas Priest's stance with its former members? Most of us fans of the band have noticed how they have tried to forget all the members who have passed through the band's history, as if they never existed, when I believe that each member contributed the best of themselves during their time in the band.

A: How they see themselves in the light of the fans is up to them but read KK’s book and you will see what’s wrong… I think they have snubbed Ripper and myself over the years especially at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame… I love drummer Les Binks but what did he do more than Ripper to get asked, if they say Les co wrote ‘’Beyond The Realms of Death’’ then I co-wrote Victim of Changes, if they say but he played on the albums well so did Ripper so i don’t know who makes the rules... Never mind , up to them...

E: There is something that really strikes me, nowadays many former members of various bands have toured under the names of their previous bands, but I see that you haven't done so, why haven't you toured under the name of Al Atkins, the original singer of Judas Priest?

A: To be honest I have used the name over the years, it’s a big cake and I have had a small slice of it.

E: Talking about the public reception, when people meet you in the street how is the approach with the fans? I can imagine the amount of stories they ask you to tell about the origins of Judas Priest.

A: It’s always great to meet up with old fans of the band who remember me and yes i have lot’s of stories to tell... i’m pushing my book here if you don’t mind which is ‘’Dawn of The Metal Gods’’ and it’s filled with some of the stories from those early day’s.

E: Thank you very much for your time Al, I hope in the future you will be able to tour and visit North America.

A: Thank you Edson

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