Judas Priest are pioneers of the Heavy Metal genre, and arguably created the “Metal” look. Priest were one of the bands that helped spur the heavy metal genres evolution by discarding most of its blues influence and created a “metallic” sound which inspired generations of metal bands to come. Judas Priest were one of the first heavy metal bands and are considered one of the most influential bands in the genre, helping the evolution of speed and thrash metal in the 80s.
K. K. Downing and bassist Ian Hill had known each other since early childhood, as they lived near one another and attended the same nursery and school in West Bromwich. They became close friends in their early teens, when they shared similar musical interests (Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Cream, The Yardbirds) and learned to play instruments. The band was founded in 1969 in Birmingham, England, after a local ensemble named Judas Priest (after Bob Dylan’s song “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest” from the John Wesley Harding album) split up. The band’s singer, Al Atkins, approached Downing and Hill, who were playing as a power trio with drummer John Ellis, and asked if he could become their singer. With Atkins now in the band, Downing suggested they change their name to Judas Priest as he had been a fan of the original band.
Later, in 1972, Rob Halford and drummer John Hinch joined to replace Atkins and Partridge, respectively. A second guitarist, Glenn Tipton, was also added to the line-up in 1974 as compensation for their record company’s (Gull Records) suggestion to add a horn section to the first album, Rocka Rolla.