Judas Priest / Killing Machine

Judas Priest, Killing Machine (1978).

Twin guitars and V-twin cylinders announce the entrance of Rob Halford on stage. When the singer appears on his Harley Softail Cross Bones and raises his fist, the gig can begin. Judas Priest embodies the association between Rock and Bikers since 1978, with the release of their album Killing Machine.

To the usual leather, the group added studs and tinsel to create a new style, somewhat inspired by Kenneth Anger’s ambiguous Bikers in Scorpio Rising. Glam Metal was born, and it soon reached the US, where the album was renamed Hell Bent for Leather, only to reassure promoters worried about the aggressive original title.

In a 2009 interview (Liana Dawes for Hellbound), Halford evokes the legitimacy of the link between Priest and his bike:

Harley’s are the perfect American motorcycle to be associated with rock n’ roll music. And I’ve always said that the Harley’s are synonymous with heavy metal because like heavy metal, Harley’s are big and loud and brash and they smell and they piss some people off, and they have all the same attributes that heavy metal does. So It’s a very close correlation between rock n’ roll, heavy metal and motorcycles. It’s the independence, the rebel streak […]”.

With Painkiller in 1990, the illustrator Mark Wilkinson incorporates the bike as one of Priest’s creatures, a mechanical dragon wheeling on circular saws, the infernal mount of an avenging angel, a metal robot. Finally, the worlds of Rock and Motorcycle collided.

Rob Halford, Harley-Davidson (photo by Fin Costello)
Rob Halford, Harley-Davidson (photo by Fin Costello)
Rob Halford
Rob Halford
Judas Priest, Killing Machine, 1978
Judas Priest, Killing Machine, 1978
Judas Priest, Live Bites '84
Judas Priest, Live Bites ’84
Judas Priest, Painkiller, 1990
Judas Priest, Painkiller, 1990
Judas Priest
Judas Priest
Rob Halford, Norton (photo by Fin Costello)
Rob Halford, Norton (photo by Fin Costello)
Rob Halford, 1988
Rob Halford, 1988

You can also read: The Sound of the Road

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