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Interview:
Judas Priest at Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre, 5 Things To Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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Who knew British Steel would prove so durable?



Judas Priest formed 49 years ago in England and endured through changes in membership, trends and public tastes. Through ups and downs -- most recently including guitarist Glenn Tipton bowing (mostly) out due to Parkinson's Disease -- the iconic heavy metal quintet has soldiered on. Earlier this year it released its 18th studio album, "Firepower," whose No. 5 debut was Priest's highest-ever position on the Billboard 200 chart.



And if you think age is slowing the group down in any way, let's just say you've got another thing comin'....



Judas Priest is in the midst of a tour with fellow heavy rock icons Deep Purple, whose bassist Roger Glover produced 1977's "Sin After Sin" album. "It's a great bill," bassist Ian Hill, the sole founding member still in the Priest lineup, says by phone. "I don't think we've ever done any work with Purple before, but we've been working at the same time over the years. There's camaraderie there. If you saw Black Sabbath or Purple or Iron Maiden or ourselves doing well, we were all rooting for each other. We felt like that was good for all of us."



Priest's "Firepower" album has been out since March, and Hill says that it's "exceeded all expectations, really. I think the production team did a tremendous job, and radio's picked up on two or three tracks and given us some heavy airplay. Every album we try to take a step forward and make it better. That keeps us current and keeps us relevant -- and after nearly 50 years it's nice to know we are still relevant."



Hill, 67, says it's been an adjustment not having Tipton tour with Priest any more --though he does make occasional guest appearances with "Firepower" co-producer Andy Sneap plays in his place. "The crowd has been really, really good about it. None of us can really understand what he's going through, and I think the fans realize that. They genuinely feel for Glenn and what he must be going through. And he's handled it about as good as anybody possibly could. We love when he's around; He's not just a great artist but is a great character and friend. The crowd loves it, too, and it does Glenn well from a therapeutic point of view. But he's not always well enough, and everybody understands that."



Judas Priest was on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating ballot for the first time last year. The group didn't get in, and Hill says he takes the whole thing with a grain of salt. "Yeah, these things come up. It's nice to be recognized. I think it took Black Sabbath, one of the few metal bands in the Hall of Fame, eight nominations or something before they got in, so maybe that's going to happen for us. We'll see. I'm not holding my breath."



While no specifics have been announced, planning is already under way for Priest's 50th anniversary in 2019. "There's going to be a moment or moments," frontman Rob Halford says. I'm sure the label has some ideas, some promoters have some ideas they want to throw at us for us to celebrate in an unusual way. We're open, I think. I'll just be glad to be on stage anywhere in the world in 2019. That's enough for me."



If You Go:



Deep Purple, Judas Priest and the Temperance Movement



7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24.



Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill, 14900 Metropolitan Parkway, Sterling Heights.



Tickets start at $34.



Call 313-471-7000 or visit 313Presents.com.

Web Site: www.313Presents.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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