Former JUDAS PRIEST singer Tim “Ripper” Owens says that the band “needed” to reunite with Rob Halford.
Owens joined PRIEST in 1996 after being discovered when the band’s drummer was given a videotape of him performing with the PRIEST cover band BRITISH STEEL. JUDAS PRIEST at the time was seeking a replacement for Halford, who has since rejoined the band.
Owens recorded two studio albums with JUDAS PRIEST — “Jugulator” and 2001’s “Demolition” — before Halford‘s return to the group.
Owens told Ultimate Guitar that he wasn’t particularly surprised to see PRIEST reconnecting with Rob.
“Well, the band needed Rob Halford, really,” he said. “I joined JUDAS PRIEST in a horrible time in heavy metal — the mid-’90s. It wasn’t very good. It started taking up in 2000, but it was too late for us.
“I’ve always said it this way: JUDAS PRIEST needed Rob Halford back and Rob needed to come back. He needed JUDAS PRIEST. I mean, he can have a very successful solo career, he still co do his HALFORD thing. But money’s doubled with JUDAS PRIEST and Rob Halford. So they needed each other.
“I think we could have continued on, I think we could have been successful and did it. But, really, I think it was a smart decision for everybody. But I think that is it. Bands need the original lineup and the original singers to come back together and do that.”
“I mean, JUDAS PRIEST — if they got [original guitarist] K.K. [Downing] back… I love Richie [Faulkner, Downing‘s replacement], I wouldn’t ever want Richie to go anywhere, but if they had that lineup back and they did a big tour, it probably would fetch more money as well.”
Owens went on to say that he believes his era of JUDAS PRIEST is largely overlooked.
“Yeah, I think it definitely deserves more [attention],” he said. “I mean, they don’t do anything. [Laughs] It’s kind of amazing that they just totally erased it that they won’t play… I mean ‘Burn in Hell’ [off ‘Jugulator’], the crowd would like to hear ‘Burn In Hell’.
“They don’t have to give me a tribute or anything, but it would be nice to play a song from… You know, that was a pretty big thing, I did two studio records, two live records, and a DVD, starting from ’96 to 2004. So it’s kind of crazy that it’s just been erased and they won’t even play a song from it live, because it is JUDAS PRIEST.”
Tim told The Metal Voice in 2016 that he “wouldn’t have quit JUDAS PRIEST.” He clarified: “I wanted to leave JUDAS PRIEST, ’cause I had already recorded the ICED EARTH record [‘The Glorious Burden’]. So I wanted out of JUDAS PRIEST, ’cause I wanted to do other stuff, but I never would have quit. ‘Cause I was great friends with them, and I was the singer of JUDAS PRIEST. But to make more money and to do more things, I had to branch out and do other things.”
In a separate interview, Owens defended himself against accusations by some JUDAS PRIEST fans of changing the band’s sound to a more brutal, modern direction on “Jugulator”. He explained: “Every record JUDAS PRIEST puts out is different. I mean, ‘Nostradamus’ sounds nothing like JUDAS PRIEST ever wrote, ever. ‘Turbo’ sounded nothing like JUDAS PRIEST. You know, JUDAS PRIEST changes. They wrote ‘Painkiller’, and ‘Jugulator’ was a transition; it was kind of following what was going on.”
He continued: “You’ve gotta remember, JUDAS PRIEST always went with the times a little bit. Glenn [Tipton, guitar] started playing arpeggios. PANTERA was really big [at the time]. [On the] ‘Painkiller’ [tour], they toured with PANTERA; PANTERA opened for JUDAS PRIEST. ‘Painkiller’ was a heavy record, and this was a natural progression. The difference is I probably had a few more different layers to my voice that they could tap into — some deeper, death metal kind of undertones to do backups and some different types of voices that they might be able to try. But it was JUDAS PRIEST.”