Rockbrat Wonders: About Al Atkins: The founder of heavy metal ?

Ladies and gentleman – I give you the voice of Judas Priest. Nope, not Halford, nor Halford imitator Ripper Owens. Let me introduce to you the original voice of Judas Priest – Al Atkins. In 2011, poor old Al is digging the garden and doing the weeds. That’s right astute readers, he is 64 – and is still out there trading on his two minutes with Priest back in 1971. 1971 for f**k sake , that’s forty one years ago! Why should anyone care if he was the band’s first singer or came up with the name ? Who the f**k cares ? You must have more cash than me to hand over your hard earned for his new album and his book, where he regales the reader with stories about his time in Priest and how he shared stages in the mid 60’s with Bowie, Cat Stevens, Rod Stewart etc. Here is a guy who is suffering from a terminal case of ‘Ron Leejack-ism’ (Leejack was in Wicked Lester with $immons and Stanley and has hung on to this for all it’s worth for the last 40 years, attending KI$$ conventions, signing autographs for the kids who are stoopid enough to fork over their dough to this guy). Al is hanging on to his own sense of self importance in the Judas Priest story. I believe Dennis Stratton does the same thing about his time in Maiden. Again – why should anyone care ? You were in a band and then quit – and that band goes on to world domination. It’s a bitter pill to swallow every day whilst you are having to break your back like the rest of us having to earn a living. How did Pete Best or Jimmy Nichol cope I wonder ? Of course I have nothing against Al trying to make a buck – or have his Andy Warhol. He doesn’t have a bad voice and we all have to do what we have to do, but my point is, when is enough enough? Why should people be hanging on to his story? He was a guy who QUIT the band before they broke. What’s to tell ? The Gig Lizard once auditioned for The Hard-Ons. Is there a book there ? According to Al’s Wikipedia entry, (no doubt self penned so we’ll take it with the grain of salt it deserves) Al began his musical career in 1964, singing in a “succession of blues rock outfits” (no one of note – ED) before forming a band in September 1969, named Judas Priest (named after the Bob Dylan song “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest”). Featuring a musical direction unrelated to the future metal band, (note that: ED) this band lasted until April 1970, developing a small following in Birmingham before splitting up over “creative differences” (yawn – ED). By this time, bands such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were emerging, and Atkins was interested in pursuing a similar direction. Fellow Birmingham musicians K.K. Downing, Ian Hill and John Ellis, who were in a band called Freight (April-October 1970) had similar musical interests, and teamed up with Atkins to form a new band. Atkins did not like the name Freight, so he suggested they be called Judas Priest, as he had rights to the name. After gaining a following in Birmingham, the Atkins-led Priest recorded a demo in 1971, which attracted the attention of Tony Iommi’s management but failed to endear them with any of London’s major record labels. (Man, that’s an interesting story Al). Though the gigs began to improve, the band also had to contend with higher overheads, and no record deal was in sight. As Atkins had a young daughter to support, he was forced to leave Priest in favor of a day job. He was replaced by Rob Halford, who found himself singing many songs that were originally written by Atkins. Consequently, the album Rocka Rolla gives a portrait of Atkins’ original vision for the band. (objectively written – ED). Atkins eventually formed another band, ‘Lion’ and went solo after it dissolved. (not a roaring success then? ED.) Check out this recent interview with Al by Michael de Jager and the hot looking Nina Clarke of Guitarist TV. Sitting next to the aging and portly boys only serves to make the at times, gushing Nina look all that much better. If you can sit through the 30 minute interview (sorry, you won’t get that back), Al is asked “What is it like to be one of the founders of heavy metal? And a legend? What is it like to be recognised in the US? Please. Do me a favour….. Al, why not tell all the kids again about ‘Victim Of Change’ the one song that he contributed that the band still do – let’s milk it for all it’s worth. Al is also asked, “You must have had some Spinal Tap moments ?” and then the very next question is asked about the heavy metal rock opera he is working on! HA! A metal opera (‘Mopera’ as they call it – too funny). Al has also recently written the forward notes for a Priest book coming out in ……Bulgaria. Big interview guys, way to go. Can you tie down Ron Leejack for an interview ?

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