In a recent interview with Cassius Morris, former JUDAS PRIEST frontman Tim “Ripper” Owens spoke about his relationship with the band’s current singer Rob Halford. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “I think it made people very angry that there never really was (a rivalry between us). I mean, there was a little bit of things said back in the day, but we’ve always been friends and I’ve always respected him, obviously. And he’s always talked well about me in the press. So I think it does make people mad that that they’re that we don’t hate each other and we say bad things. But we definitely consider each other friends and there’s respect there.”
Asked if he thinks there is a chance of PRIEST staging a one-off reunion concert featuring all current and former members of the band, including Owens and founding PRIEST guitarist Kenneth “K.K.” Downing, Tim said: “Should there be? Yes. Will there be? I don’t think so. I don’t think they would ever do it. They don’t seem to make those kind of good decisions, so I don’t think it would happen. I mean, this is a band that went to one guitar player last year,” he added, referencing the fact that PRIEST announced it would tour with one guitarist before quickly reversing its decision and going back to the two-guitar format. “So I really don’t think that that it would happen.”
He continued: “I think it would be great if they got Ken back and they did a tour. I think the world would love to see that especially. Me? It definitely is not gonna happen, I wouldn’t think. But I think fans would love it. I think it’d be great and it would be fun… but I don’t think it’ll ever happen.”
Two years ago, Owens told Pierre Gutiérrez of Rock Talks that “it doesn’t make sense” JUDAS PRIEST to not perform any songs from the two albums he recorded with the band — 1997’s “Jugulator” and 2001’s “Demolition” — during the group’s 50th-anniversary tour. “I mean, it was JUDAS PRIEST,” he said. “Listen, you’re celebrating 50 years of JUDAS PRIEST, but you’re leaving out 10 years of it. The thing is Rob would sound so awesome… Could you imagine Rob singing ‘Burn In Hell’? Holy crap, it would sound fantastic. So, there’s nothing wrong with sticking ‘Burn In Hell’ in a setlist. It was right in the middle there, so… I don’t know. But they have a great setlist to play right now, so it’s pretty awesome to see it.
“It’s amazing JUDAS PRIEST has never done it,” Owens continued. “They don’t always have to do it, but it’s amazing that they’ve never done it. I mean, Rob supposedly has never heard my era of JUDAS PRIEST, and it’s kind of all right because I’ve never actually listened to his solo stuff except FIGHT, so we’re kind of even on it. After FIGHT, I’ve not really listened to his stuff either, so it’s kind of all right.
“When I was in JUDAS PRIEST, I didn’t listen to a lot of stuff so I really didn’t listen to the HALFORD stuff — unless somebody had it on somewhere,” Tim explained.
“I love Rob — Rob is a friend and a mentor and an idol. Rob Halford and Ronnie James Dio are the two guys that really inspired me. So it’s nothing against anything, really. It’s not that I didn’t want to (listen to his solo stuff); I just never did. It was kind of, like, ‘I’m in JUDAS PRIEST. There’s no need.’ But after I left, I listened to the JUDAS PRIEST records. Whether I liked them or not, I listened to ’em.”
In September 2021, Rob was asked by Classic Rock magazine if he has listened to “Demolition” and “Jugulator”. “No. I still haven’t,” he said. “This might sound selfish, but because it’s not me singing, I’m not attracted to it. I sound like a twat, but I’m really just not interested. And that’s no disrespect to Ripper, ’cause he’s a friend of mine.”
Halford went on to say that he first met Owens “when the band went through Ohio, (and Tim) came to the show. Was it awkward? Not in the least,” he said. “We gave each other a hug. He’s a massive PRIEST fan, and when the opportunity came for me to go back, he was, like, ‘Thumbs up, it’s great. I’m happy for the band, I’m happy for Rob.’ I respect his chops; he’s a great singer.”
Owens joined PRIEST in 1996 after being discovered when the band’s drummer, Scott Travis, was given a videotape of him performing with the PRIEST cover act BRITISH STEEL. JUDAS PRIEST at the time was seeking a replacement for Halford.
In a 2000 interview, Halford explained why he was reluctant to hear “Jugulator”. “It’s just too difficult for me to listen to the band when I’m not in it, and that’s nothing to do with taking a shot at Ripper,” he said. “I just can’t listen to it. It’s just psychological. I should just put it on and listen to the fucking thing, but then if I do, (interviewers) will say, ‘Well have you heard it?’, and I’ll go, ‘Yeah’, and then you’ll go, ‘What do you think?’, and I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be put in that situation. I just love all the things that I’ve done with the band and I’m happy to be a part of that great legacy and that’s all. You want to treat it with respect because that’s what it deserves.”
In October 2020, Halford told “The SDR Show” that he would “absolutely” be open to performing material from “Demolition” and “Jugulator” with PRIEST. “Those two albums are just as valid as everything else in the PRIEST catalog,” he explained. “So who knows? That day may yet come.”
In 2019, Owens told Ultimate Guitar that he believes his era of JUDAS PRIEST is largely overlooked. “Yeah, I think it definitely deserves more (attention),” he said. “I mean, they don’t do anything. (Laughs) It’s kind of amazing that they just totally erased it that they won’t play… I mean, ‘Burn In Hell’ (off ‘Jugulator’), the crowd would like to hear ‘Burn In Hell’.
“They don’t have to give me a tribute or anything, but it would be nice to play a song from… You know, that was a pretty big thing, I did two studio records, two live records, and a DVD, starting from ’96 to 2004. So it’s kind of crazy that it’s just been erased and they won’t even play a song from it live, because it is JUDAS PRIEST.”
In October 2019, JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Richie Faulkner said that “Hell Is Home” is one of his favorite songs from the Owens era. The PRIEST guitarist, who joined the band in 2011 as the replacement for K.K. Downing, offered his opinion during a live video chat. He said: “I was listening to the Ripper albums the other day, and ‘Hell Is Home’ is such a great track. It’s really heavy and the vocal melody is really great. I think Ripper sings it really well. It’s probably one of my favorite PRIEST songs of the Ripper era. ‘Hell Is Home’ — I really like that.”
“Demolition” and “Jugulator” are included on “50 Heavy Metal Years Of Music”, JUDAS PRIEST‘s limited-edition box set which contains every official live and studio album to date plus 13 unreleased discs. Released in October 2021, it is the most extensive release of previously unreleased music the band has made from its vast archives.