Ex-JUDAS PRIEST Singer TIM 'RIPPER' OWENS: 'It's Hard To Replace Somebody Like' ROB HALFORD

January 27, 2024

At this past Wednesday night's (January 24) Metal Hall Of Fame gala at the Delta Marriott Garden Grove in Garden Grove, California, former JUDAS PRIEST singer Tim "Ripper" Owens was asked by The Metal Voice if he thinks the two albums that he has done with KK'S PRIEST so far would have been "a total game changer" if they were released under the JUDAS PRIEST name back in the 1990s and early 2000s instead of 1997's "Jugulator" and 2001's "Demolition". He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I don't think it would have been. I think it was the time we were at. I think if we released 'Jugulator' and 'Demolition' right now, it would be totally different, in my opinion. Because metal was so bad [back in the 1990s]. Bands were playing in smaller places. At the end of JUDAS PRIEST, on the 'Painkiller' tour, they were playing in front of a thousand people in Europe and stuff; I mean, it was a totally different kind of an animal. In 2000 or so, when it started coming back, you started seeing it. Now you get [IRON] MAIDEN and PRIEST out there still selling out these big concerts — well, MAIDEN selling out their really big concerts. And I think those records… It's hard to replace somebody like [Rob Halford]. I don't care how great the records would have been. [The fans] still want Rob, just like people still yell that they want Ken [former JUDAS PRIEST and current KK'S PRIEST guitarist Kenneth 'K.K.' Downing] in PRIEST. I mean, that's a normal thing. But I think no matter what we would have released, I don't think it would have [been received much better]. It would have been about the same."

Owens was also asked if his lack of songwriting contributions to PRIEST was primarily the result of the fact that he was the "new guy" in the band, Owens said: "Oh, exactly. You're joining JUDAS PRIEST. At the end, I did wanna write. I came to the table with a few songs; 'Scream Machine' [which appeared on the 2006 album from his BEYOND FEAR project] was one of them, actually, which would have probably been one of the better JUDAS PRIEST songs on those records. But it's JUDAS PRIEST. It's K.K. You know what I mean? You just go with it, and I was fine with how everything went. I loved the records, and I learned a lot from working with Glenn [Tipton, PRIEST guitarist] and Ken, and working in the studio. I learned a lot."

Last September, Owens spoke to Cassius Morris about his relationship with Halford. He said: "I think it made people very angry that there never really was [a rivalry between us]. I mean, there was a little bit of things said back in the day, but we've always been friends and I've always respected him, obviously. And he's always talked well about me in the press. So I think it does make people mad that that they're that we don't hate each other and we say bad things. But we definitely consider each other friends and there's respect there."

Asked if he thinks there is a chance of PRIEST staging a one-off reunion concert featuring all current and former members of the band, including Owens and Downing, Tim said: "Should there be? Yes. Will there be? I don't think so. I don't think they would ever do it. They don't seem to make those kind of good decisions, so I don't think it would happen. I mean, this is a band that went to one guitar player [in 2022]" he added, referencing the fact that PRIEST announced it would tour with one guitarist before quickly reversing its decision and going back to the two-guitar format. "So I really don't think that that it would happen."

He continued: "I think it would be great if they got Ken back and they did a tour. I think the world would love to see that especially. Me? It definitely is not gonna happen, I wouldn't think. But I think fans would love it. I think it'd be great and it would be fun… but I don't think it'll ever happen."

Three years ago, Owens told Pierre Gutiérrez of Rock Talks that "it doesn't make sense" JUDAS PRIEST to not perform any songs from the two albums he recorded with the band — 19the aforementioned "Jugulator" and "Demolition" — during the group's 50th-anniversary tour. "I mean, it was JUDAS PRIEST," he said. "Listen, you're celebrating 50 years of JUDAS PRIEST, but you're leaving out 10 years of it. The thing is Rob would sound so awesome… Could you imagine Rob singing 'Burn In Hell'? Holy crap, it would sound fantastic. So, there's nothing wrong with sticking 'Burn In Hell' in a setlist. It was right in the middle there, so… I don't know. But they have a great setlist to play right now, so it's pretty awesome to see it.

"It's amazing JUDAS PRIEST has never done it," Owens continued. "They don't always have to do it, but it's amazing that they've never done it. I mean, Rob supposedly has never heard my era of JUDAS PRIEST, and it's kind of all right because I've never actually listened to his solo stuff except FIGHT, so we're kind of even on it. After FIGHT, I've not really listened to his stuff either, so it's kind of all right.

"When I was in JUDAS PRIEST, I didn't listen to a lot of stuff so I really didn't listen to the HALFORD stuff — unless somebody had it on somewhere," Tim explained.

"I love RobRob is a friend and a mentor and an idol. Rob Halford and Ronnie James Dio are the two guys that really inspired me. So it's nothing against anything, really. It's not that I didn't want to [listen to his solo stuff]; I just never did. It was kind of, like, 'I'm in JUDAS PRIEST. There's no need.' But after I left, I listened to the JUDAS PRIEST records. Whether I liked them or not, I listened to 'em."

In September 2021, Rob was asked by Classic Rock magazine if he has listened to "Demolition" and "Jugulator". "No. I still haven't," he said. "This might sound selfish, but because it's not me singing, I'm not attracted to it. I sound like a twat, but I'm really just not interested. And that's no disrespect to Ripper, 'cause he's a friend of mine."

Halford went on to say that he first met Owens "when the band went through Ohio, [and Tim] came to the show. Was it awkward? Not in the least," he said. "We gave each other a hug. He's a massive PRIEST fan, and when the opportunity came for me to go back, he was, like, 'Thumbs up, it's great. I'm happy for the band, I'm happy for Rob.' I respect his chops; he's a great singer."

Owens joined PRIEST in 1996 after being discovered when the band's drummer, Scott Travis, was given a videotape of him performing with the PRIEST cover act BRITISH STEEL. JUDAS PRIEST at the time was seeking a replacement for Halford.

In a 2000 interview, Halford explained why he was reluctant to hear "Jugulator". "It's just too difficult for me to listen to the band when I'm not in it, and that's nothing to do with taking a shot at Ripper," he said. "I just can't listen to it. It's just psychological. I should just put it on and listen to the fucking thing, but then if I do, [interviewers] will say, 'Well have you heard it?', and I'll go, 'Yeah', and then you'll go, 'What do you think?', and I don't want to do that. I don't want to be put in that situation. I just love all the things that I've done with the band and I'm happy to be a part of that great legacy and that's all. You want to treat it with respect because that's what it deserves."

In October 2020, Halford told "The SDR Show" that he would "absolutely" be open to performing material from "Demolition" and "Jugulator" with PRIEST. "Those two albums are just as valid as everything else in the PRIEST catalog," he explained. "So who knows? That day may yet come."

In 2019, Owens told Ultimate Guitar 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."

In October 2019, JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Richie Faulkner said that "Hell Is Home" is one of his favorite songs from the Owens era. The PRIEST guitarist, who joined the band in 2011 as the replacement for K.K. Downing, offered his opinion during a live video chat. He said: "I was listening to the Ripper albums the other day, and 'Hell Is Home' is such a great track. It's really heavy and the vocal melody is really great. I think Ripper sings it really well. It's probably one of my favorite PRIEST songs of the Ripper era. 'Hell Is Home' — I really like that."

"Demolition" and "Jugulator" are included on "50 Heavy Metal Years Of Music", JUDAS PRIEST's limited-edition box set which contains every official live and studio album to date plus 13 unreleased discs. Released in October 2021, it is the most extensive release of previously unreleased music the band has made from its vast archives.

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