Original Singer: Judas Priest Would’ve Sounded ‘More Like AC/DC’ If I’d Stayed in Band
Al Atkins was the founding singer of Judas Priest who regrettably had to trade in his mic for a 9 to 5 to support his family. Atkins recently spoke about his new project and how Judas Priest would’ve sounded “more like AC/DC” had he stayed on board.
Al Atkins formed a band in Birmingham, England in 1969, which he named Judas Priest after the Bob Dylan tune “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest.” Despite playing high-profile gigs landed for them by their then-manager, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, the band struggled to make ends meet. In 1973, Atkins stepped out to land a “real job” to support his family and the band moved forward with a young man named Rob Halford — the rest is heavy metal history.
Now Atkins has joined forces with guitar virtuoso, songwriter, and producer Paul May to form the creatively titled Atkins May Project. The prog-metal duo just released their debut album ‘Serpents Kiss,’ which features a roaring cover of the Kiss song ‘Cold Gin.’
Atkins spoke about the new project with The Examiner, but also took some time to talk about what might’ve been with Judas Priest had circumstances been different. “I was the only one in the band that was married with a kid to feed and without a record deal and the backing we needed I just couldn’t survive anymore so I decided to get a haircut and a 9 to 5 job,” explained Atkins of his decision to leave the band. “Yes I did regret it but was happy for them to eventually get that deal and climb the ladder to succeed and they much deserved it.”
Judas Priest went on to sell over 50 million albums behind Rob Halford, whose high range vocals were stylistically different from his predecessor. Although many of the tunes he penned appeared on the band’s debut ‘Rocka Rolla,’ Atkins claims the band would’ve been much different under his lead. “If I would have stayed with them we may have taken a different road? Maybe more like AC/DC but that’s not a bad thing is it?”
In addition to the Atkins May Project, Al has released several solo albums and also performs with the band Holy Rage — he remains close with the members of Judas Priest to this day.