Rob Halford Looks Back On Judas Priest Suicide Trial 25 Years Later
Legal action was launched after Raymond Belknap, 18, and James Vance, 20, shot themselves in Nevada, following a night of drinking, taking drugs and listening to the band's albums. Belknap died instantly while Vance lived for three years with major injuries.
Vance and his family alleged that Priest's cover of Spooky Tooth track Better By You, Better Than Me included subliminal messages that, when played backwards, included the phrases "Try suicide," "Do it" and "Let's be dead."
Priest attended court in 1990 while prosecutors attempted to prove they'd been an influence in the shootings. The charges were dismissed 25 years ago this month.
Halford tells Rolling Stone: "It feels like it was just yesterday - I remember walking up the steps at the courthouse and feeling the incredible fan support that we had every day. Then there was just the tension and the sadness in the courthouse, because at the heart of the matter were these two guys that lost their lives tragically.
"These two boys were massive Priest fans, and that made it even more heart-wrenching that this terrible combination of the night and the drugs and the booze and their state of mind turned into something quite terrible."
He recalls feeling "baffled" by some of the arguments he heard in court, adding: "The trial shook us up because it came from a country that we love dearly. Nevertheless, it was a great opportunity for a band like Priest to show the judge and the public - that was clueless about metal - that we had a bunch of guys who could string sentences together, be logical and intelligent, and have a deep conversation.
"I think there was the misguided belief that that wasn't going to happen. But we're not idiots, and we never will be." Read more here.
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