Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest

K.K. Downing, with Mark Eglinton. Da Capo, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-0-306-90331-1
Downing, guitarist and founding member of the British heavy metal band Judas Priest, delivers a thoughtful account of his 40-year career with the group. He writes of his early life growing up amid the “grit and grime” of West Bromwich, near the industrial city of Birmingham. He developed an interest in music and, at age 15, in 1966, he dropped out of school, found a job as a chef trainee, and devoted his free time to playing guitar. Three years later he auditioned for and made the band that evolved into Judas Priest. Downing focuses on how he was “diligent about my craft” and the “more fixed idea of the direction I wanted the music to go in.” The band signed with Sony and in 1978 released its breakout record, Hell Bent for Leather, and throughout the 1970s and ’80s, turned out 11 records (“With Screaming for Vengeance [released in 1982] we demonstrated that we were on an absolute roll from a song writing perspective”). Despite the band’s success, however, Downing writes that it “massively underachieved” financially and creatively through many missed opportunities. Downing’s detailed and earnest look at Judas Priest’s career successfully shows how it achieved its main artistic goal—to empower its audience with a “sense of freedom and power” through its music. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/30/2018
Release date: 09/18/2018
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