Better By You, Better Than Me
|"Better By You, Better Than Me"|
|Single by Spooky Tooth|
|from the album Spooky Two|
|Genre||Hard rock, progressive rock|
In 1990, Judas Priest's version of the song was the subject of a much-publicized "subliminal message trial". The band were the subject of a civil lawsuit alleging their recording was responsible for the suicide attempts of two young men in Reno, Nevada in the mid-1980s. The case was eventually dismissed.
- Luther Grosvenor Guitar
- Mike Harrison Keyboards, Vocals
- Mike Kellie Drums
- Greg Ridley Bass, Guitar
- Gary Wright Keyboards, Vocals
Judas Priest version
|"Better By You, Better Than Me"|
|Single by Judas Priest|
|from the album Stained Class|
|Label||CBS, Inc. (UK)
Columbia Records (US)
|Judas Priest singles chronology|
- Rob Halford: Lead vocals
- K.K. Downing: guitars
- Glenn Tipton: guitars, backing vocals
- Ian Hill: Bass Guitar
- Les Binks: drums
In 1990, Judas Priest was involved in a civil action that alleged they were responsible for the 1985 suicide attempts of 20-year old James Vance and 19-year old Ray Belknap in Reno, Nevada, USA. On December 23, 1985 Vance and Belknap became intoxicated before going to a playground at a Lutheran church in Reno. Belknap placed a 12 gauge shotgun under his own chin and proceeded to shoot the weapon, dying instantly. Vance followed, but survived the self-inflicted gunshot wound with a severely disfigured face. He died three years later after a suicidal overdose of painkillers.
Vance's parents and their legal team, headed by Nevada attorney Ken McKenna, subsequently alleged that a subliminal message of "do it" had been included in the song. They alleged the command in the song triggered the suicide attempt. The three-week trial was watched closely by the music industry and constitutional lawyers. In a pre-trial motion, the judge ruled that subliminal messages were incapable of being protected speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, since they were by definition not noticeable and thus could not form part of a dialogue. Timothy Moore, who testified on Judas Priest's behalf, stated that the plaintiffs (led by McKenna) achieved "a major victory in getting the case to trial in the first place;" The case was dismissed, with the finding that any subliminal messages within the recording, should they actually exist, were not responsible for the suicides. However, the Judge did award $40,000 in sanctions against CBS.
One of the defense witnesses, Dr Timothy E. Moore, later chronicled the trial in an article for Skeptical Inquirer magazine. The trial was also the subject of a 1991 documentary entitled Dream Deceivers: The Story Behind James Vance Vs. Judas Priest. In the documentary, Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford commented that if the band were so inclined to insert subliminal commands into their music, messages commanding their fans to kill themselves would be quite counterproductive; from the band's perspective it would be much more practical to insert the command "buy more of our records". Regarding the prosecution's assertions that the statement "do it" was a command to commit suicide, Halford pointed out that the phrase "do it" had no direct message to do anything in particular.
Comedian Bill Hicks referred to the case in his stand-up routines, asking "What musician wants his audience dead?" He performed a sketch mimicking Judas Priest being sick of their immense wealth, power, and fame and coming up with the subliminal message as a solution to their problems. Comedian Denis Leary also commented on the trial on his album No Cure For Cancer, saying heavy metal bands should put more subliminal messages in their records: "Kill the band, kill your parents, then kill yourself".
- Moore, Timothy (November/December 1996). "Scientific Consensus and Expert Testimony: Lessons from the Judas Priest Trial". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 2006-11-18.
- Cooper, Candy (July 1, 2005). "The Judas Priest Trial: 15 Years Later". Blabbermouth.net. Retrieved 2006-11-18.
- Article on the scope and breadth of the Judas Priest Trial
- "Judas Priest Suicide Trial Article". http://members.firstinter.net/markster/PAINKILLER.html.
- Dream Deceivers: The Story Behind James Vance Vs. Judas Priest