Al Atkins was the founding member and frontman of Judas Priest starting in 1969. The band would see a couple of different lineup changes before Al would leave the band in 1973 due to family obligations at home mixed with the tight financial situation created from being on the road with a young band in it’s infancy. However, Judas Priest would go on to become a household name in the metal world and 40 some years later are still a highly sought metal commodity.
Though Al’s stint with Priest was as short as it was impactful, his role as founding member would not be the only jewel in the crown of his legacy. In 1990 Al would reappear in the world of heavy music under a self-titled project with guitarist Paul May. They would go on to release 4 albums between the years 1990-1998 and a fifth in 2007, to much critical acclaim. In 2009 Al would publish a book called “Dawn of the Metal Gods”. The book would be an autobiography detailing his career from his days with Priest in the late ‘60’s to the work he was doing with a new project at the time with Legends guitarist Vince O’regan. That project was called Holy Rage. They released one full self-titled album in 2010. Shortly after that Paul May approached Al to do some guest vocals on a project he had been working on called Serpent’s Kiss. Al ended up doing the vocals for the entire album and they released it under Atkins/May project. They would go on to release 2 more original albums as well as an anthology album, again, gaining much critical acclaim.
Presently Al is in the process of releasing a new album called RELOADED. It is to be a compilation of re-recordings of his favorite songs from his days with Priest up to and including his work with Holy Rage. The album is to feature many notable guest musicians such as Ian Hall from Judas Priest and Primal Fear’s vocalist Ralf Scheepers.
Hello Al, Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us at Metalheads Forever Magazine. It is both a pleasure and a privilege to have the opportunity to ask a living legend a couple of questions about your legacy and the history of metal in general. Let’s begin:
Talking to somebody who is credited with helping to create what we know as Heavy Metal today, I think it would be interesting as a metalhead to know what your inspirations were back then. What were you listening to when you were playing with bands prior to and after having formed the first line up with Priest in 69? Would you say that the music you were listening to helped shape the music you created and if so, in what ways?
A big influence on myself was when I first heard groups like ‘The Who’ and ‘Cream’ in the 60’s and from then on the music had to be loud and heavy, the next band that made me sit up and listen was Deep Purple with vocalist Ian Gillan …later was Black Sabbath and Led Zep who had both formed around ’68 and I just had to form a band like these and in 1969 I formed Judas Priest..
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