2005 was an interesting time for Judas Priest. After departing the band in 1992, vocalist Rob Halford returned Priest replacing Tim “Ripper” Owens who had been fronting the band since 1996. Though many faith-defending fans of Judas Priest will always hold a soft spot in their hearts for Owens, this was the reunion every Priest fan wanted–except for one person perhaps. Rob Halford.
In an interview with the now-defunct website, New York Rock in March of 1998, Halford was asked a question he was likely tired of addressing; if he would ever consider getting back together with Judas Priest. At the time, Halford was deeply entrenched in a project with Trent Reznor called Two and were about to release their first and only album, Voyeurs. Without further adieu, here’s Halford’s straightforward response regarding the possibility he might every be a part of Priest again:
“I would never do it. I’m not just saying that now and five years from now I’m gonna be on stage with Priest again. I value my personal creativity and my integrity more than a few dollars in the bank. It’s never the same the second time around, especially when there’s something more attached to it than the music. Reunions smack of big dollars, instead of people feeling that they want to go out and play music together. That’s not to dis some of these people who have gotten together: I love Fleetwood Mac. It’s still to me, the same thing. There’s something about that band and that music that defies time but doesn’t make it cheesy. Some other bands with the bulging waistline, and the receding hair… let me get my old videos out. That’s being bitter and cynical, and so be it, but that’s just the way it is from my perspective.”
Aside from his personal revelation about his understandable love of Fleetwood Mac (let’s not forget “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)” is a Fleetwood Mac cover), Halford’s never-again proclamation about Priest ever being a band again seemed pretty serious to say the least. But, we all know how that turned out and with deep respect to Ripper, I can’t think of one fan of Judas Priest that isn’t glad Halford and the band worked things out–and anyone fortunate enough to see Priest live recently supporting their solid-as-fuck eighteenth album, Firepower knows this is the truth. Now that we’ve gotten today’s Judas Priest history lesson out of the way (reading is fundametal ya’ know), let’s get to the part of this story where we get to listen to Priest slaying their cover of Joan Baez’s “Diamonds and Rust” and “Worth Fighting For” from 2005’s Angel of Retribution their first post-reunion record. The band also performed a stripped-down version of “Diamonds and Rust” during the tour as well which you can see on the DVD, Rising in the East. Below is the intimate footage of Halford, Glenn Tipton, and K.K. Downing banging out acoustic versions of both songs (which aired on a VH1 Classic show called “Hangin’ With”) as well as a television appearance by Priest from 2004 shot while the band was in Bulgaria where, Halford, Ian Hill, K.K. and Glenn (with Scott Travis on drums) perform a majestic unplugged version of “Diamonds and Rust” on the Slavi’s Show. And since we could all use a little more Judas Priest in our lives, I’ve also included footage of Tim “Ripper” Owens, K.K. and Glen Tipton performing an acoustic version of “Diamonds and Rust.”
Judas Priest‘s acoustic set featuring “Diamonds and Rust,” and “Worth Fighting For” from 2005.
Judas Priest on the Bulgarian TV program, Slavi’s Show. The performance starts at about thirteen-minutes in.
Tim “Ripper” Owens, K.K. Downing, and Glenn Tipton performing an acoustic version of “Diamonds and Rust.”