Hell Bent For History
With a flair for the dramatic, uncommon technical prowess and a uniquely talented frontman, Judas Priest not only built upon the foundations of heavy metal but played a large part in defining the entire genre. With humble beginnings in working-class Birmingham, England, Judas Priest took the driving blues stylings popularized by Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple to new heights, with the band’s own leather-studded machismo punctuated by driving riffs, wailing falsettos and majestic crescendos reminiscent of the mightiest Queen coda.
A force for more than 50 years now, Judas Priest band and legendary frontman Rob Halford have long been heavy metal royalty, now getting their due in the Rock Hall. By the early 1980s the band had already refined its sound as a raw, pummeling attack that has influenced generations of music fans with hits like “Hell Bent For Leather,” “Breaking The Law” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.”
Somewhat living in the shadow of barely-elder statesmen and fellow Birmingham metal pioneers Black Sabbath, Priest has remained active on the road with constant concert touring at a high level, from sold-out arenas across the world, festival headline appearances and co-bills with fellow rock royalty such as Iron Maiden, Motörhead and countless others.
While sonically innovative, Halford himself is also lauded as a pioneer for coming out as gay during an emotional 1998 MTV interview. A 2020 autobiography titled “Confess” details his journey.
An excerpt from the book reads:
“For so many years, I’d imagined that coming out would lead to an outpouring of disgust, end my career, and kill Judas Priest. Now . . . the exact opposite happened. I started to get letters from people all over the world; we had to open an office in Phoenix to deal with them.”
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
Pioneering The Minneapolis Sound and New Jack Swing
James “Jimmy Jam” Harris III and Terry Lewis have created magic in the studio, on the road and pay it forward. Known as pioneers for creating The Minneapolis Sound after their stint with Prince as members of The Time, as well as for creating strings of hits in the New Jack Swing style of R&B.
Producing seemingly endless hits for artists including Klymaxx, Cheryl Lynn, Gladys Knight, Force M.D.’s, Cherrelle, and the S.O.S. Band, their next project took them to a whole other level, with Janet Jackson’s 1986 Control LP featuring five hits they produced, leading to another three decades of chart-topping music.
The duo continues to give back, being active with MusiCares and other charitable endeavors, as well as more directly with artists.
“Drake was going to Dubai or somewhere for four days or whatever, and I said, ‘You should just take a week off or a couple of weeks off,’” Harris told Pollstar previously, imparting some wisdom gained from working with Clarence Avant. Drake was too busy with a new album coming out. “You have to look out for yourself because everybody’s going to tell you that you can’t take time off or it’s all going to fall apart, but maybe just take it as a time off,” Harris said.
Two weeks later, “He hit me and said, ‘Yeah, I ended up taking two weeks off. That was the best advice I ever got.’”