Kerry King Reveals How Judas Priest ‘Inspired What Became Slayer’
With fan-voting ongoing and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2022 induction class soon to be announced, Slayer's Kerry King has done some campaigning for Judas Priest's Rock Hall induction, penning a piece for Rolling Stone on why the metal legends should be in and going deep on the impact they had on his own band.
The veteran group has been eligible for 22 years now, and this marks the third time they've been on the ballot, hopefully making the third time the charm when it comes to an actual induction.
“Some years, you hear who got in the Rock Hall and you’re like, ‘Well, how did they get in above these other bands?'” says King. “So it seems basically like a popularity contest rather than, ‘Do they deserve to get in there?’ Because Judas Priest deserve to be in there. They’ve had a 50-year career — longer than Slayer did, and we had a long-ass career — and they’re still playing when they’re all healthy. So they’ve got longevity on their side. They were a darling of MTV, when MTV came out. And I probably couldn’t count all the hits — or what the common person would call hits.”
King also points out the influence they've had on metal as a whole, including the impact they had on Slayer, who first bonded by playing Judas Priest covers.
"Living in Los Angeles back when British Steel came out the radio stations, KMET or KLOS started playing 'Living After Midnight' and 'Breaking the Law,' and immediately I latched onto it," King recalled of his initial discovery of the group. "As a young guitar player, I could tell there were two guitars on the recording, and the creativity and early uniqueness of two guitars totally inspired what Slayer became. And then there was the singer, Rob Halford. To this day, he is my favorite singer. He knows it. It’s an uncomfortable thing between us, but we’re friends and he knows he’s my favorite."
"Rob Halford’s stage presence, his stage persona, and his stage look were always upper echelon," says King. "His entrances at concerts were always pretty grand. On one of the tours, he would be in this basket singing 'Electric Eye' that was slowly lowered to the stage from the lighting trusses. The band was always on the stage and then when Rob came out, it was just that much bigger. And his voice — he hits notes and holds notes for a duration that’s almost inhuman. It’s like Eddie Van Halen playing guitar; that’s Rob Halford singing."
King states in his case for Judas Priest, "It’s a fair statement to say there would be no Slayer without Priest. I don’t think Priest were our sole inspiration, but I think that’s a fair statement. If I had never heard the hit 'Breaking the Law' on the radio, I never might have done the homework and that might not have sent me down the direction I went."
He adds, "Glenn Tipton was probably my biggest inspiration as far as metal goes. I think he’s super underrated, super overlooked. Just go to the leads that he performs. Even going back into the early, early stuff on Sad Wings of Destiny, you can almost always tell that if it’s Tipton, it’s super fucking tasty. If it’s K.K., it’s a more edgy, almost punky kind of vibe, which is a great mix. But Tipton was the one for me."
As for his thoughts on Priest's case for the Rock Hall, King states, "If I were going to vote for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I would totally vote for them. Without question. First and foremost, there would be no metal without Black Sabbath. But once you get beyond that, there wouldn’t be a lot of metal bands without Judas Priest. Us being one of them."
He added, "The people who do vote are probably going to vote for the bigger bands. That says nothing for Priest’s longevity and the things they’ve done. I don’t know what else to say. If you’re not a metal fan, you’re never going to get it. If you are a metal fan, you’re never going to forget it."
Judas Priest are currently in sixth place in voting for the "fan ballot" that gets submitted each year along with the other ballots. The Top 5 choices will each receive a vote in the final tally, but the group is within striking distance of jumping into the Top 5.
Halford recently expressed to Audacy Check In host Remy Maxwell, "Like I said on the first nomination, and I'll say it on this one, for us it's all about getting some more metal into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."
"It's a great establishment, as far as what it should be and do, which is to represent all of these figures in music. It's always a place that's full of emotion and passion because that's what music generates," stated Halford, continuing, "So we urge our fans to keep voting, because you have to get Top 5 for whatever reason. We did that the last two times, I think, which gives you a little bit of a cherry on the cake, if that's the right expression. It helps you get through the door a little bit more."
Read Kerry King's full tribute to Judas Priest as he makes his case for their Rock Hall induction at Rolling Stone.