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|Alan John "Al" Atkins|
11 October 1947 |
Stone Cro, West Bromwich, West Midlands, England
|Genres||Heavy metal, blues rock, hard rock|
|Associated acts||Judas Priest, Stevie Young|
Atkins began his musical career in 1964, singing in a succession of blues rock outfits before forming a band in September 1969, named Judas Priest (named after the Bob Dylan song "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest"). Featuring a musical direction unrelated to the future metal band, this band lasted until April 1970, developing a small following in Birmingham before splitting up over creative differences.
By this time, bands such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were emerging, and Atkins was interested in pursuing a similar direction. Fellow Black Country musicians K.K. Downing, Ian Hill and John Ellis, who were in a band called Freight (April–October 1970) had similar musical interests, and teamed up with Atkins to form a new band. Atkins did not like the name Freight, so he suggested they be called Judas Priest, as he had rights to the name. After gaining a following in Birmingham, the Atkins-led Priest recorded a demo in 1971, which attracted the attention of Tony Iommi's management but failed to endear them with any of London's major record labels.
With a wife and young daughter to support and no record deal in sight, Atkins was forced "to get a haircut and a 9-to-5 job" in May 1973. He was replaced by Rob Halford, who found himself singing many songs that were originally written by Atkins. Consequently, the album Rocka Rolla gives a portrait of Atkins' original vision for the band. Atkins eventually formed another band, Lion and went solo after it dissolved, releasing four albums in the 1990s and a final, fifth album in 2007 as a solo artist.
As of 2012, Atkins fronts the band Atkins/May Project, which also features guitarist Paul May. A press release dated 21 May 2011 stated that Atkins would be contributing session vocals for the heavy metal opera project, Lyraka. In 2013, Atkins recorded a solo album of his favorite songs written between his days in Judas Priest to the Holy Rage days. He also worked with guitarist Stevie Young, nephew of Angus Young from AC/DC who replaced his uncle Malcolm as guitarist in AC/DC in 2014.
- Judgement Day (1990)
- Dreams of Avalon (1992)
- Heavy Thoughts (1994)
- Victim of Changes (1998)
- Demon Deceiver (2007)
- Demon Deceiver... Plus (Re-release with two bonus tracks, 2010)
- Holy Rage (2010)
Atkins / May Project
- Serpents Kiss (2011)
- Valley Of Shadows (2012)
- Empire Of Destruction (2014)
Albums (guest sessions)
- Lyraka Volume 2(not yet released)
- "Ex-Judas Priest Singer Says Band Could've Sounded Like AC/DC If He Stuck Around". Ultimateclassicrock.com. Retrieved 2014-05-18.
-  Archived 25 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
- Alice Roques (2013-01-17). "January/February 2013 Digital issue: ATKINS MAY PROJECT". RockRevolt Magazine™.