11 Great Judas Priest Guest Appearances
By Bryan Reesman
Between eighteen studio albums, seven Rob Halford studio releases (with Fight, Halford, and 2wo), and two Glenn Tipton solo efforts over the last 44 years, there's already a plethora of Judas Priest-related music in the world. But members of the iconic British group have also managed to squeak out a few cameo appearances on other people's albums. Here are some guest slots from the boys from Birmingham that you may have missed.
Josh Homme's band has had one of the coolest guest lists of any band, ever. Elton John, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, Trent Reznor, Shirley Manson of Garbage, PJ Harvey, Dave Grohl and Mark Lanegan are among those who have contributed to Queens albums. And Rob Halford is on that list also. Ironically, he sang backing vocals on "Feel Good Hit of the Summer." Here are the song's lyrics: "Nicotine, valium, vicadin, marijuana, ecstasy, and alcohol... c-c-c-cocaine!" Rob was sober for well over a decade when he appeared on this track.
It’s no secret that Rob Halford is a big Black Sabbath aficionado, so it was no surprise to hear him on the Sabbath tribute album, Nativity In Black. Assembled for one song, the Bullrung Brummies featured the Priest frontman, Sabbath bassist and drummer Geezer Butler and Bill Ward, Fight guitarist Brian Tilse, Saint Vitus axeman (and frontman) Wino and a harmonica player named Jimmy Wood. Halford proved why he was the perfect man to fill in for Dio at a Sabbath gig two years earlier, and for Ozzy a decade later. Rob also lent his voice to a new rendition of Rainbow’s “Man On The Silver Mountain” from the 2014 tribute to Dio, This Is Your Life. This is the better cover, however.
This was an unusual Rob Halford guest slot in that he was not singing or screaming in his usual style but snarling in a way that complimented the style of Five Finger Death Punch frontman Ivan Moody. Moody tackled the first verse, Halford the second, and the two joined forces on the second and third choruses. “Lift Me Up” is a straightforward, barnstorming FFDP anthem, and the two singers clearly had fun sparring behind the mic.
After pop stars lent their voices to aid African famine relief with “We Are The World,” Ronnie James Dio decided that the heavy metal community could also contribute to the cause, counteracting the popular belief that the metal world was all about self-absorbed hedonism and angry rebellion. The sheer amount of talent in one room was incredible – vocalists like Dio, Geoff Tate of Queensryche, and Paul Shortino of Rough Cutt; guitarists including George Lynch of Dokken, Neal Schon of Journey(!), Brad Gillis of Night Ranger and Adrian Smith and Dave Murray from Iron Maiden, among others. One highlight was the appearance of Rob Halford, who not only sang a couple of key lyrics but soared above the harmonies of the second chorus.
Arguably the best Krokus album, Headhunter, was produced by Priest studio master Tom Allom at the end of 1983. Thus, Rob Halford was enlisted to contribute harmonies with Krokus frontman Marc Storace to the chorus of this raucous rocker; their voices sound great together, it's too bad they didn't do more. Rob pulled a similar trick the next year when appearing on the Surgical Steel demo “Smooth and Fast” and in 1992, when providing background screams for Ugly Kid Joe’s “Goddamn Devil."
The original singer and founder of Judas Priest has revived his career over the last two decades by revisiting and re-recording Priest tracks from their early days while tossing in a few originals. His 1998 album Victim Of Changes, included contributions from the late Priest drummer Dave Holland (after he left the band, but before he was incarcerated), including a full version of “Caviar and Meths,” which only emerged as a gentle instrumental extract to close out their debut album. Last year, though, Priest bassist Ian Hill made a guest appearance on another Atkins’ re-recording: “Winter” from Rocka Rolla. This new arrangement featured an extended guitar solo and offered a rare, non-Priest appearance by Hill.
In This Moment's "Black Wedding" was a straight-up duet between frontwoman Maria Brink and Rob Halford, and makes a good argument that there should be more male-female metal duets. It also makes a great argument that Brink and Halford should do a full album together.
How did Priest axeman Glenn Tipton wind up appearing on a song by minor grunge outfit the Nixons? The answer is clearly producer Mark Dodson, who was behind the boards for The Nixons' album Foma and who co-produced Glenn Tipton's two solo albums in the mid-1990s, one of which, Edge Of The World, did not surface until 2006. The ferocious soloing at the beginning, middle, and end of “Drink The Fear” totally sounds like '90s Tipton, and it adds welcome color to an otherwise typical grunge track of the time.
After Glenn Tipton became friends with sexy singer and model Samantha Fox when they were both living in Spain, she invited him to add a solo to an upbeat pop track on her fourth solo album Just One Night. Tipton's agile fingerwork amped up an otherwise lightweight track. It's a really good, melodic solo that's somewhat out of place, but it makes for a fun contrast. Plus, anytime you get to hear great Tipton playing is a good thing, and the whole collaboration will make you smirk, in a good way. The duo allegedly wrote some songs together, but we’ll likely never hear them.
Bassist Mick Cervino is a former member of Yngwie Malmsteen’s band and Blackmore’s Night. One of the rare producing efforts from original Priest guitarist K.K. Downing, Violent Storm's debut album featured two solos from Downing, on “War No More” and “Deceiver” (the latter, funnily enough, was also a Judas Priest song title from 1976, but it's not the same song). Of these two trad metal tunes, the fast-paced former track was the more exciting, with Downing delivering a searing, squealing solo that had his signature all over it. As with the Tipton tracks above, it was nice to hear K.K. shred in a different context.
After Geoff Tate's acrimonious split from the Seattle prog metal icons that he fronted for three decades, he released the album Frequency Unknown ("FU," get it?) featuring a sizable list of guest musicians that included Rudy Sarzo, Simon Wright, Paul Bostaph, Ty Tabor, Brad Gillis, Dave Meniketti, Chris Poland, and departed Priest guitarist K.K. Downing. Many people understandably complained about the poor mixing job on the album, which resulted in it being remixed and reissued. Downing's solo on “Running Backwards” actually appeared on the 2014 remix version and replaced the original one from the 2013 edition. (We're not sure who played that one.) At any rate, Downing ripped into an aggressive solo that added flair to an otherwise average metal tune.
Rob Halford made a funny cameo in the Jonas Åkerlund film Spun back in 2002. He played a porn store clerk who angers Mickey Rourke’s character by flirting with him.