Five Times Judas Priest Ruled

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

I know, I know, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a load of corporate bullshit and heavy metal bands don’t need its validation to prove their greatness. Still, it’s pretty cool when the world at large recognizes an icon of the scene for kicking ass for literal decades, which is what happened on Saturday night for Judas Priest.

Having released Rocka Rolla in 1974, Priest have been eligible to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame since 1999—better late than never! To celebrate, we’re remembering five times that Judas Priest ruled.

5. Painkiller

Judas Priest have two Decibel Hall of Fame inductions, one for 1978’s Stained Class and one for 1990’s Painkiller. The latter was a resounding statement from the heavy metal gods as they entered a new decade. If Turbo and Ram It Down made it seem like Judas Priest were losing their way, Painkiller was the confirmation they hadn’t. It still stands as one of the best—if not the best—album of Judas Priest’s career.

4. Rob Halford and the Subliminal Messaging Trial

In December 1985, two young men attempted suicide after listening to Judas Priest’s Stained Class. Tragically, one was successful and died that day. The other survived—passing away a few years later—and, along with his family, pressed charges about subliminal messaging encouraging suicide hidden in the music. The case was eventually thrown out, but it led to some very weird moments in court, as well as some creative ones in which the band suggested other “subliminal messaging” in order to prove that one would hear whatever they wanted to hear.

3. ’80s TV Commercials

The days of seeing people like the members of Judas Priest in TV commercials are more or less gone by now but the internet is forever. This awesome compilation features an advertisement for a car stereo, plus a few different ads for Judas Priest concerts and albums.

2. Rob Halford Sings with Black Sabbath

Ozzy Osbourne is the Prince of Darkness but Rob Halford is the Metal God. This actually happened three times—two shows in 1992 and once in 2004. In ’92, Halford filled in for then-singer Ronnie James Dio, who wasn’t interested in being overshadowed by a special Ozzy appearance; the setlist featured a few rarities and went down as legendary concert. The next decade, Osbourne had bronchitis on the New Jersey stop of Ozzfest so, fearing riots if they canceled, Black Sabbath tapped the Metal God once again.

1. Richie Faulkner Keeps Playing While Having a Heart Attack on Stage

This story only rules because Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner recovered and is still playing with the band today. On September 26, 2021, Faulkner suffered an aortic aneurysm and dissection—an artery in his heart ballooned and exploded—while on stage with Judas Priest at Louder Than Life festival. Collapsing into a chair after their set, he went to the hospital where he was rushed into an emergency 11-hour operation. He told Guitar World earlier this year that he was literally saved by the power of heavy metal—if the adrenaline from performing on stage hadn’t been flowing, doctors told him he very well may have died.

Congratulations to Judas Priest on their achievement.