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April 10, 2007 4:02 AM   Subscribe

Dream Deceivers: The Story behind James Vance vs Judas Priest (1992) [google video 56 mins] ‘Just before Christmas 1985, James Vance and Ray Belknap shot themselves with a 12 – gauge shotgun. Their families blamed heavy metal group Judas Priest, claiming a recorded subliminal command “Do It” had mesmerized their son. Almost 5 years after the suicide pact James Vance et al. vs. Judas priest came to trial in Reno’s District Court’ (Warning: James Vance’s face may disturb some viewers). Also ‘Lessons from the Judas Priest Trial’ and ‘The Judas Priest Trial: 15 years later’.
posted by DOUBLE A SIDE (82 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
You'd think they'd blame Johnny Cash
posted by thirteenkiller at 4:50 AM on April 10, 2007


This takes me back. Seems like only yesterday that guys were blowing their heads off while listening to Priest. Good times, good times.
posted by psmealey at 5:00 AM on April 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I would have gone with Victim of Changes or Dreamer/Deceiver, myself.
posted by The Straightener at 5:10 AM on April 10, 2007


I was the same age, or so, as these two when this happened. I can remember what I was thinking when I heard the story for the first time:

"...how stupidly drunk were these two at the time?"
posted by mephron at 5:14 AM on April 10, 2007


damn. that heavly metal parking lot link is hilarious ... especially when some of the chicks talk about rob halford. they had no idea back then.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 5:32 AM on April 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Note to future generations: You don't have to what the band says Unless it's Sleater Kinney and they're inviting you backstage.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:33 AM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


that heavy metal parking lot link is hilarious

I was at the show in Philly the night before that was filmed. My dad took me. It fucking ruled.
posted by The Straightener at 5:44 AM on April 10, 2007


As an aside- whoa- the brought out Heavy Metal Parking Lot on DVD!
posted by Dr-Baa at 6:05 AM on April 10, 2007


*the = they
My excitement overrides my ability to type.
posted by Dr-Baa at 6:15 AM on April 10, 2007


Like religion, rock and roll is good for good people and bad for bad people.

("Bad" in the sense of "can't handle it," of course.)

They should've listened to Iggy Pop and smeared peanut butter on each other or something.
posted by pax digita at 6:19 AM on April 10, 2007


Religion is good for people?
posted by DU at 6:22 AM on April 10, 2007


I never quite got the conceptual leap that people would somehow listen to the music and have the processing power to be able to play the phonemes in their heads, backwards, and piece together the commands, which would then somehow bypass all of the other filters humans have against doing whatever voices tell them to do.

I had to resort to the laborious process of compiling hopefully Satanic music (My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, etc.) onto a 120 minute cassette tape (the thinner the tape, the better this works), disassembling the cassette, then flipping the reels and turning them inside out. All of this for nothing. 'cept for that bit after "Darlin' Nikki," and what a disappointment that turned out to be.

Then again, any Christian witchhu urban legend that results in a Preacher character and the birth of Trick or Treat can't be all that bad.
posted by adipocere at 6:28 AM on April 10, 2007


HI I'M ON METAFILTER AND I COULD OVERTHINK THE FATE OF TEENS.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:30 AM on April 10, 2007 [4 favorites]


they had no idea back then.

How many teenagers in the '80s were familiar with the gay leather sub-culture? Looking back it's obvious, but back then the guy dressed in spiked leather with the bullwhip was just an awsome singer. Priest is metal, the stretch of releases from "British Steel" through "Defenders Of The Faith" define the metal genre (well, for me anyway). The only thing Priest related that ever made me want to kill myself was the whole "Turbo" era with the colorful leather and Rob's really bad hair.
posted by MikeMc at 6:31 AM on April 10, 2007


Note to future generations: You don't have to what the band says Unless it's Sleater KinneyRockbitch and they're inviting you backstage.
posted by mkb at 6:32 AM on April 10, 2007


I did that same reversed cassette tape thing when I was a kid. I thought I was about to blow the whole music industry wide open. Instead, I got cassette tape tape all over the place and not many hits on the backwards masking.
posted by DU at 6:32 AM on April 10, 2007


>Like religion, rock and roll is good for good people and bad for bad people.

If you don't mind, I might use this in the future.
posted by philfromhavelock at 6:36 AM on April 10, 2007


HI I'M ON METAFILTER AND I COULD OVERTHINK THE POWER OF MEMES.
posted by Flashman at 6:52 AM on April 10, 2007


Titannica makes lemonade out of lemons.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:52 AM on April 10, 2007


"I did that same reversed cassette tape thing when I was a kid."

Well, when I was a kid, I spun Beatles records backwards listening for "Paul is dead" clues, you whippersnapper!

And speaking of which, you can listen to Lennon's Revolution #9, backwards, right here. At 6:28 you get the famous "turn me on dead man".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:55 AM on April 10, 2007


damn. that heavly metal parking lot link is hilarious ... especially when some of the chicks talk about rob halford. they had no idea back then.

Heh. I coulda been one of those kids. Odd thing is as dumb as some of them act, the enthusiasm is so infectious that by the end of the video you kinda wish you were partying with them.

I kinda wonder how Halford's gayness slipped by us, too. I used to have a huge Priest poster over my bed back then, and I still love them now. Maybe we were too stoned to notice.
posted by jonmc at 6:55 AM on April 10, 2007


(also, I might add: the fact that Halford is still considered royalty by most metal fans is a credit to the audience and something of a refutation of the dumb homophobe metalhead stereotype)
posted by jonmc at 6:58 AM on April 10, 2007


Growing up in the UK, one of my local record stores made up a joke album cover they placed in the racks alongside the rest of the heavy metal - in the days before desktop publishing and photoshop, mind you, they cut'n'pasted together - by hand - a spoof compilation album called "Heavy Metal Homos", featuring, front and center, one Rob Halford.

It was funny because he is teh ghey.
posted by kcds at 7:00 AM on April 10, 2007


I kinda wonder how Halford's gayness slipped by us, too.

Halford's gay aesthetic was pretty mild compared to Freddie Mercury's, and that escaped not just metal fans, but everyone. I guess leather and handlebar moustache gay culture was not particularly well known at that point, but I think it's still an example of people seeing what they wanted to see.
posted by psmealey at 7:05 AM on April 10, 2007


Maybe, but like I said the fact that he's still considered one of teh greats says something. There aren't any other out gay metal guys except Roddy Bottum from Faith No More, but there's several who are rumored to be at least bisexual.
posted by jonmc at 7:10 AM on April 10, 2007


I don't necessarily disagree, jonmc. But, there's always been kind of a double standard for rock stars, hasn't there?

Seems like teh gay has been far more and far earlier accepted among musicians by mainstream consumers than people in other walks of life. Hell, Bowie made half a career out of pretending to be (or at least not refuting that he wansn't) gay.
posted by psmealey at 7:15 AM on April 10, 2007


LOL: You didn't have to be naive and straight to miss the Freddy Mercury thing. Experienced and gay, yet I still just didn't click that Freddy was a queen. Didn't occur to me to even wonder about such things. (But it was music, so, I either liked it, or didn't.)
posted by Goofyy at 7:17 AM on April 10, 2007


I don't necessarily disagree, jonmc. But, there's always been kind of a double standard for rock stars, hasn't there?

Yeah, sure, but even the acceptance of a Halford in a community as putatively homophobic as the metal audience has to have some kind of impact.
posted by jonmc at 7:18 AM on April 10, 2007


I'm not much of a metal fan, so to my mind the best thing to come out of it was Atom and His Package's < ahref=http://www.plyrics.com/lyrics/atomandhispackage/hatsofftohalford.html" Hats off to Halford" ./a>
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:20 AM on April 10, 2007


Ah, hell. Here.

On my second day, no less...
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:21 AM on April 10, 2007


Well I was a massive Priest fan back in the 70s and it certainly never occurred to me that Halford was a gayer (as we say here in the UK). And I'm from Birmingham, England too; the home of Judas Priest.
posted by squealy at 7:22 AM on April 10, 2007


Would love to see a "where are they now" follow-up to Heavy Metal Parking Lot.

I think this video just put me on the conservative side of the "legalize it" debate.
posted by itchylick at 7:22 AM on April 10, 2007


There aren't any other out gay metal guys except Roddy Bottum from Faith No More,

Well, and Halford's bandmate Dave Holland but that's a rather sordid story.

the fact that Halford is still considered royalty by most metal fans is a credit to the audience and something of a refutation of the dumb homophobe metalhead stereotype

It takes more then a yen for t3h kawk to bring down a Metal God.
posted by MikeMc at 7:22 AM on April 10, 2007


Would love to see a "where are they now" follow-up to Heavy Metal Parking Lot.

If most metalheads I knew growing up were any indication, they probably have jobs and families now. They were a bunch of kids hopped up with excitement and mostly drunk and high. Most of us probably have nights that would've produced videos like that in our past.
posted by jonmc at 7:25 AM on April 10, 2007


I don't think Halford's leanings slipped by everybody. Seemed pretty obvious to me. Obvious enough to The Meatmen that they made a song which referenced both his and Joan Jett's orientation. It wasn't until he officially came out that I realized that not everyone had picked up on it.
posted by adipocere at 7:25 AM on April 10, 2007


Kinda gives their album Point Of Entry a whole new meaning, I guess. I had figured it out before he came out, too, but the 15-year-old me? Not a clue.
posted by jonmc at 7:28 AM on April 10, 2007


Would love to see a "where are they now" follow-up to Heavy Metal Parking Lot.

If they're like the metal dudes I grew up with they flip eggs for a living in between stints in the county jail.
posted by The Straightener at 7:36 AM on April 10, 2007


Seemed pretty obvious to me.

Slipped right past me. I was only 13 or so when I first started listening to JP (where have the years gone?) and "gay" wasn't really something I picked up on unless someone was totally flaming.

they probably have jobs and families now.

Yeah,well I have the most metal fucking minivan ever! Actually, it would be more metal if I could put the Mayhem sticker in the back window but the Mrs. has a problem with all the inverted crosses.
posted by MikeMc at 7:36 AM on April 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Kinda gives their album Point Of Entry a whole new meaning, I guess.

Funny, I was thinking the same thing about "Hell Bent For Leather" and "Ram It Down".
posted by MikeMc at 7:40 AM on April 10, 2007


If they're like the metal dudes I grew up with they flip eggs for a living in between stints in the county jail.

A few of the guys I knew wound up that way, but you could say that about any music subculture, couldn't you?
posted by jonmc at 7:40 AM on April 10, 2007


but you could say that about any music subculture, couldn't you?

The correlation was a little stronger than that where I grew up.

Oh, or dead from overdoses, totally forgot about that slice of the pie chart.
posted by The Straightener at 7:43 AM on April 10, 2007


(also is it just me or do the guys behind the camera come across as assholes, kinda?)
posted by jonmc at 7:46 AM on April 10, 2007


If they're like the metal dudes I grew up with they flip eggs for a living in between stints in the county jail.
Or holding down a professorship in mathematics. You just can't tell.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:04 AM on April 10, 2007


Gotta tell you, I've personally known more dead punk and "indie" (whatever that means anymore) rockers than metal heads.
posted by Mister_A at 8:13 AM on April 10, 2007


I can't find the link, but there was a followup and most of the people in the videos are just professionals with families.
posted by drezdn at 8:16 AM on April 10, 2007


As for this metalhead, well right now, I'm between jobs and having my first beer of the...

*backs slowly away*
posted by jonmc at 8:17 AM on April 10, 2007


Can't you find a Greek diner to flip eggs at?
posted by The Straightener at 8:18 AM on April 10, 2007


Heh.

*makes Dio-hands at Wolfdog*
posted by jonmc at 8:22 AM on April 10, 2007


(also, I seem to remember reading that Mensa has a sub-group called the Mensa Metal Society. can't find a link though)
posted by jonmc at 8:25 AM on April 10, 2007


It's probably uncool to generalize about such things, but I think it's all place and time. I started high school in Connecticut in 1981 and finished in northern NJ in 1985. In both high schools I attended, the heavy metal thing was very much of a closed socioeconomic thing, and the punk thing was more or less open to freaks of whatever background. The auto, wood and metal shop wings of school were rife with mullets, chain wallets and denim and leather jean jackets with elaborate paintings of heavy metal album covers (Priest, Maiden, Saxon, Krokus, etc.). They had their own section of the smoking cafeteria (those were the days), and they often behaved like gangs, shouting insults at passers by not part of their klan, vandalizing the school paper editors car (who recommended shutting down the smoking lounge), etc.

Were there metal devotees in honors classes? You bet, but these guys were crossover geeks (hardcore Rush fans that played Risk and occasionally attended Scopions concerts) and not identifiable as metal heads. Didn't dress like it, didn't act like it, and only hung with the 'heads when it came time to load up and go to the MSG or the Byrne Arena to see Quiet Riot.

The punks functioned more as independents who kind of hung with everyone, and no one, not really even each other so much. And occasionally these guys were vicitimized by some of the more thuggish members of the metal contingent, but couldn't really retaliate, as they were probably more pacifist than they wre anything else.

Ah, high school... so much like and unlike real life.
posted by psmealey at 8:35 AM on April 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


their klan clan

Sorry, no pun intended. The Nazi post threw my spelling off.
posted by psmealey at 8:37 AM on April 10, 2007


I was the same part of the country a little later, psmealey, and once the more underground metal of Motorhead/Metallica/Slayer emerged there was a little more peace between the metal kids and the punk kids (especially when certain bands appealed to both groups). And yeah, I've known some thuggish headbangers but most were actually pretty friendly guys.
posted by jonmc at 8:41 AM on April 10, 2007


I remember when I was in junior high school a friend of mine was doing a science project on the efficacy of backmasking in music. What she apparently had decided to do was to go to some audio dude and get him to backmask a tape of hers.

She then played the tape for people individually at a party and put a blue ball and a red ball in front of them. When each person was done listening to the song she'd say "Okay pick one. The blue ball or the red ball." I never found out how many people picked what or which one was backmasked on the tape. What I do remember is after she played me the tape and asked me to pick a ball I said, "I don't know which one I want to pick, but does anyone else have a really strong urge to give the guy who made this tape a blowjob?"
posted by shmegegge at 8:42 AM on April 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


Psmeasly is right on. I know smarty pants metal heads get a little testy about the topic, but we were the exception not the rule. Metal in the 80s was largely music by sloppy drunk working class people, for sloppy drunk working class people. And dustheads.

TANKARD.
posted by The Straightener at 8:56 AM on April 10, 2007


Oh man. I loved Tankard. Their lyrics caused me to drink tons of beer and vomit everywhere before falling into a ditch in a drunken stupor.

Should I sue?
posted by drstein at 9:29 AM on April 10, 2007


I seem to remember reading that Mensa has a sub-group called the Mensa Metal Society
That's the most damning allegation anoyone's leveled against metal in the whole thread.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:45 AM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


My Halford moment: I was in a San Diego record store in 1996, completely oblivious to the Pride Parade going on outside. The door opened and I heard a gasp. In walks Rob Halford in the tiniest leather shorts I have ever seen. A few people crowded around and he was pretty cool about it. He flipped through a few albums, adjusted is little leather hat, and walked back into the crowded streets of Hillcrest.

I heard Halford stopped going to that particular store because every time he would come in the clerk would immediately crank up "Stained Class".
posted by Bappy Lorenzo at 9:57 AM on April 10, 2007


Another famous case of Metal lyrics on trial.
posted by basicchannel at 10:09 AM on April 10, 2007


You know who needs to go on trial for metal lyrics? Jari Mäenpää.
A windstorm dropped a bird from the sky
It fell to the ground and it's wings broke and died
But when the time got by, back to sky it flied
'cause the wings healed in time and the bird was I
Please, Jari, please just play your guitar. I love you when you do that. But you are perpetrating atrocities against the English language to an extent which actually violates the Geneva Conventions.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:36 AM on April 10, 2007


Interesting documentary, thanks for posting it.

Seems like there's been a recent swelling in the number of documentary posts of late. Any reason for that?
posted by voltairemodern at 10:39 AM on April 10, 2007


A windstorm dropped a bird from the sky
It fell to the ground and it's wings broke and died
But when the time got by, back to sky it flied
'cause the wings healed in time and the bird was I


Ahahahaha thank you good night
posted by voltairemodern at 10:40 AM on April 10, 2007


This story, combined with the death of Kurt Cobain, inspired Garth Ennis to create, Arseface.
posted by daq at 10:41 AM on April 10, 2007


Stupid. Why would a band want to "mesmerize" someone into suicide, when that person buys their music? The music industry is not about artistry; it's all about the Benjamins.
posted by tadellin at 10:44 AM on April 10, 2007


Has anyone seen Neil Diamond Parking lot? Made by the same director "Jeff Krulik" as heavy metal parking lot, same parking lot 10 yrs later. It is a real hoot to watch them back to back.
posted by HappyHippo at 10:57 AM on April 10, 2007


Sweet holy crap.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:59 AM on April 10, 2007


CURSE AND DAMN YOU ALL!
posted by buzzman at 11:05 AM on April 10, 2007


Were there metal devotees in honors classes? You bet, but these guys were crossover geeks (hardcore Rush fans that played Risk and occasionally attended Scopions concerts) and not identifiable as metal heads.

I don't hesitate to say that the great Led Zepp. was the catalyst for this crossover. Mixing in the Celtic sounds with Page's ripping guitar and some choice references to Lord of the Rings made this gaming geek an instant metal fan. For a while there, I could dream up a D&D-relationship for every metal song I heard.

By the time glam metal came around, I'd heard just about everything I could from that sound, and I began to wean myself off of it. Certain bands still stuck with me as continuing to produce some quality stuff (Metallica sticks out in my mind, but I'm sure I could come up with other names if pressed), but eventually I moved to more melodic music as my tastes evolved with my age.

Priest's voice, lyrics, and driving/pounding beats were a perfect backdrop to a weekend day spent pushing miniatures around a table and tossing dice.

Of course, the same people beating the Bible while telling us that metal was corrupting our brains were the same people claiming that D&D made kids kill themselves, so I was double-damned.
posted by thanotopsis at 11:08 AM on April 10, 2007


Priest's voice, lyrics, and driving/pounding beats were a perfect backdrop to a weekend day spent pushing miniatures around a table and tossing dice.

and to day spent in the back of somebody's Nova drinking beer and smoking cheap weed and hooting at cute girls. That's a pretty good trick for a band to pull off, satisfying both sides of the adolescent male equation.
posted by jonmc at 11:22 AM on April 10, 2007


Here's "Neil Diamond Parking Lot".
posted by interrobang at 11:45 AM on April 10, 2007


I just came in here to say

Dethklok rules!
posted by Cookiebastard at 11:46 AM on April 10, 2007


Since his coming out, a TON of lyrical inuendos come to mind: the Ripper, Sinner, Raw Deal and Here come the tears, (in that order), invader. And I still tear up when he shouts the SAINTS IN HHHHELLLLLLLLL. I kinda thought he was gay cause my redneck father said that anyone who dresses like that is gay. Said it then and I'll say it now...doesn't matter! He RAWKS!!!

Also, am I the only one who cound NEVER imagine Rob Halford putting a hand on a kid? That Adam Ant sure he looks like he would touch a kid, and Gary Glitter, you can see the molester in his eyes.

October 1986, I was 19, and my girlfriend at the time (who I eventually married.) We were at UNO Lakefront Arena, JP came out on stage, it was Rob Halford's birthday, He rode out on his Harley and they presented him with a cake. Even though is was for the Turbo Lover album, the concert was GREAT.

Now the good part.. On the way home with said g/f, I ran a light right by our house while getting a beej, I figured I would be all cool and jump out, 1/2 hard, with top pants button undone and no shirt on and impress a local copper with my exploits. SHE(female cop) was not amused at all and wrote me 4 tickets. We had been dating for 5 years at that point and we have been married for 13 years, together for over 26 years now.
posted by winks007 at 12:35 PM on April 10, 2007


Saw Priest open for Black Oak Arkansas in '77 or '78 in Johnson City, Tennessee. When the crowd got a look at the short-haired Halford strutting across the stage dressed in shorts & purple cape, they Knew. And they quietly stared.

A few years later Priest was riding high, and all was forgotten or forgiven I guess.
posted by squalor at 1:09 PM on April 10, 2007


Oh- the other act on the bill that night was REO Speedwagon. Good times!
posted by squalor at 1:13 PM on April 10, 2007


The other day I was flipping my car radio around to different classic rock stations, searching for something. I didn't realize what it was at first, but after a while it hit me. I really just wanted to hear some Styx. Eventually I broke down and drove to the used cd shop and bought all four of the Styx albums in their crate. It cost me $12. For the the past several days I have been listening to nothing but Styx, all day and all night. That's it.

I felt compelled to share this with someone, and this thread seemed as good a place as any.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:36 PM on April 10, 2007


Thanks, gottabefunky. I didn't watch the docu in the first link, because I remember seeing something about James Vance on TV years ago, and it showed him apres the incident, and it was.....disturbing, to say the least. So, like an idiot, I click on your link......
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:50 PM on April 10, 2007


Two-thirds of Husker Du were gay. Took me a lot longer to figure that out.
posted by bardic at 3:01 PM on April 10, 2007


Eh, it was the 80's. Even Negativeland had a "killer song."
posted by lekvar at 3:21 PM on April 10, 2007


Two-thirds of Husker Du were gay. Took me a lot longer to figure that out.

I did not know that. Who was the second? Was the bass player who looked like Freddie Mercury (Greg Norton) gay, or was it Grant Hart?

OTOH, they were punk rockers from the Midwest... or as a friend from Ohio once told me, "dude, if you don't like football out here, you might as well be gay. Punk rock? Forget about it."
posted by psmealey at 3:31 PM on April 10, 2007


Hehe. The guy with the handlebar mustache wasn't the gay one.

He owns and cooks at this restaurant now, however.
posted by bardic at 4:02 PM on April 10, 2007


And I have eaten there. Damn good food.
posted by padraigin at 4:30 PM on April 10, 2007


thanotopsis : Of course, the same people beating the Bible while telling us that metal was corrupting our brains were the same people claiming that D&D made kids kill themselves, so I was double-damned.

Amusingly, several of my co-workers have decided to kick the World of Warcraft habit by going old school and putting together a D&D gaming night. I was astonished when one of the others outed himself religious wise when he (honest-to-god) told them, with a straight face, that things like that were a fast-track to Hell.

Everyone just kinda looked at him awkwardly and wondered how people still were hanging onto that idea.

As to Judas Priest, I never felt them any ill will, but I also never really grabbed on to more than a handful of their songs. I had a powerful love for that handful though.
posted by quin at 5:06 PM on April 10, 2007


The Preacher character Arseface was following Cobain's footsteps, though the idea for the character may have come from the Judas Priest trial. Titannica appeared after both.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:07 AM on April 11, 2007


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