Tim “Ripper” Owens recalls having to keep quiet for about five months regarding landing Judas Priest gig
Current KK’s Priest and former Judas Priest frontman Tim “Ripper” Owens was recently interviewed by Andrew DiCecco for Vinyl Writer Music. The singer was promoting KK’s Priest‘s upcoming debut album Sermons of The Sinner, which will be available on August 20, 2021.
Owens was Judas Priest‘s frontman from 1996 to 2003. In terms of how he landed the Judas Priest gig, Owens indicated:
“Well, the year or more before that, I was in British Steel. And the last two shows, friends of ours came out and videotaped the show in Erie, PA. They were friends with Scott Travis – which I met Scott before that in Virginia Beach — and he came out and played on a song with British Steel once. So, they videotaped it and they gave the video to Scott; I was already in the band Seattle by then. This was a year later, when [Judas Priest] was looking for a singer. They just messaged me and said, “Are you interested in coming out and auditioning?” Then they called me back and said, “Is that really your voice on the videotape? Because it sounds so good.” This was pre-YouTube, obviously. They said, “You sound so good, it almost sounds like you’re miming and it’s fake.” I said, “No, it’s real.” They flew me out, I sang one line of “Victim of Changes,” I hit the high note, and Glenn [Tipton] said, “OK, Tim. You got the gig.”
They were in a control room. They were in Wales, actually, in a studio. And they took an old version of “Victim of Changes” from a live concert and took Rob’s vocals out. So, they were in a control room, and I was out front singing. Then after [Glenn] said that he said, “No, sing the rest of the song. I was kidding.” Then I’m thinking, “Oh my God. I’m gonna make the band and get fired all within four minutes!” Then they said, “Alright, we’re done.” I said, “I might as well sing another one.” So, they put on “The Ripper” and I sang it; that’s how I got the nickname “Ripper.” The worst part was, I had to come home, and we didn’t announce it; this was in February, and I don’t think we announced it until July. I wasn’t allowed to tell anybody, but word got out that I auditioned. So, everybody was like, “Aw, man. Tim auditioned for Judas Priest. He didn’t make it.” But all along I knew I was the singer.”
In terms of who was his competition for the Priest gig, Owens stated: “Well, to be honest with you, there are all kinds of stories of everybody that at one time was talked about. Ralf Scheepers and everybody was talked about, but I was actually the only one that went there and auditioned. I mean, I think they probably knew what Ralf did, so they didn’t really have to fly him out or do anything at that time. They were starting the auditions, but I think what got it was, I was a nobody and that’s what they were attracted to. I was this normal kid from Akron, Ohio, not some L.A. rock star, and I could sing. I was the only one that physically went and auditioned for the band, I think. I mean, they told me that. But the point is, in ’96 when I did that, I was the only person that physically went and auditioned with the band.”
You can read the rest of the interview with Tim “Ripper” Owens at Vinyl Writer Music‘s website.