Judas Priest Take The Wheel

Heavy metal icons serve up a slab of burning metal in this week's Forgotten Videos
  • Rob Halford in "Freewheel Burning"
October 05, 2011 -- 12:51 pm PDT

Welcome to Forgotten Videos. For some, these videos are forgotten, for others just filed away, and for others still, a totally brand-new discovery. Whichever category you fall into, each week we'll feature a video that's possibly been collecting dust when what it really deserves is a fresh look. Or vice-versa…. We're not here to judge, we just want to take you on a little trip down memory lane. Yep, you'll remember when hair was really that big, when drums were that up front in the mix, when video was young(er) and so were you.

Judas Priest
"Freewheel Burning"

British heavy metal icons Judas Priest had reached the peak of their career. With their eighth studio album, 1982's Screaming For Vengeance, they finally shattered the platinum sales barrier, broke through to a mainstream audience (thanks to steady rotation of the video for "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" on MTV), and went on to become one of the acts at Heavy Metal Day during the famous US Festival in 1983.

Then came the all-important follow-up, 1984's Defenders Of The Faith. Even though it had taken the group nearly a decade to become metal superstars, Judas Priest were not going to play it safe. Rather than pick the obvious commercial track (the anthemic "Rock Hard Ride Free," for example), the group chose to release the speed-laden assault of "Freewheel Burning" as the lead single, making it clear that they were a loud-and-proud heavy metal band.

Priest's frequent music video director Julien Temple conjured a clip in which a young schoolboy is deeply immersed in playing a car-race video game called "Freewheel Burnin'." (Or for those who frequented arcades in the '80s, "Pole Position." Former arcadegoers may also recognize "Asteroids Deluxe" in the video.) As the boy roars through the virtual racetrack, sinister-looking frontman Rob Halford and his energized bandmates (guitarists Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing, bassist Ian Hill, and then-drummer Dave Holland) deliver a thunderous, high-octane performance enhanced by a hyperactive laser assault. As the game progresses, Priest infiltrate and overwhelm the boy's game. The video's loose concept tied in to the growing arcade game frenzy of the day, and the images of gamers headbanging as Tipton unleashed his searing leads added comic relief.

Defenders Of The Faith
eventually hit No. 18 on the Billboard 200, quickly achieving gold status. No hit singles emerged, but that didn't matter. Metal was making an indelible mark on the masses, and Priest's loyal audience did not want them to follow trends (which, ironically, they did with the synth-driven Turbo two years later). A massively successful world tour proved that Judas Priest were here to stay, and the album became one of a string of gold-certified studio releases.

The band went on hiatus for several years in the '90s after Halford left to work on various solo projects, while Priest regrouped with frontman Tim "Ripper" Owens for two studio albums.

A reunion with Halford in 2003 got the metal fire burning once again. Judas Priest has subsequently performed on world tours, recorded two new studio albums (2005's Angel Of Retribution and 2008's metal opera Nostradamus) and received their first GRAMMY Award for Best Metal Performance in 2009 for "Dissident Aggressor." While Judas Priest are currently in the midst of a farewell tour, aptly titled the Epitaph tour, the band recently announced plans to record a new studio album. With their epitaph not yet finished, Priest continue to appeal to older fans while passing the metal torch to a new generation as evidenced by their performance on the 2011 finale of "American Idol" with finalist James Durbin.

Have you ever screamed for vengeance? Got any Forgotten Video recommendations? Leave us a comment.

Last week's Forgotten Video. Click on the "Forgotten Videos" tag below for links to other GRAMMY News stories in this series.

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