#1010: Happy Birthday to drummer Scott Travis…

Q #2,006: Happy Birthday to drummer Scott Travis, who plays in what “holy” English metal band?

A.

Scott Travis began his drumming career in his home state of Virginia, where he became well know in the area’s Hampton Roads music scene. After finding the area lacking in opportunities, he did what so many did and what many continue to do; he moved to Los Angeles.

Once in Los Angeles in the 80s, Scott’s first big break came from playing in the band Racer X, which featured future Mr. Big guitar phenom Paul Gilbert, and vocalist Jeff Martin. At one point Martin did backing vocals for Rob Halford of Judas Priest, and the two became friends. Halford had even gifted a song to Martin, ‘Heart of a Lion,’ that had been dropped for the Priest sessions of the ‘Turbo’ album. This song appeared on the second Racer X album ‘Second Heat,’ athe first with Scott Travis on drums.

When Jeff Martin found out that Priest was in need of a new drummer, his connection to Rob Haford helped secure the audition for Scott Travis. He landed a gig with a band that he had always dreamed of playing for, and has since become the longest standing drummer in Judas Priest history.

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#818: ‘One Shot at Glory’ appears on what Judas Priest album?

Q #1,813: ‘One Shot at Glory’ appears on what Judas Priest album?

A.

Judas Priest’s ‘One Shot at Glory’ appears on their magnum opus, ‘Painkiller.’ This album (released in 1990) is the band’s twelfth release, and the first with drummer Scott Travis (Racer X) from Virginia, the first non-Briton to become a member of Judas Priest. He is said to have set up his drum kit in arena parking lots to try and gain the band’s attention, and would wait for the band to leave the venue so that he could hand them tapes of his playing. Later, this sort of behavior would be called, “The Internet.”

Travis replaced longtime ‘Priest drummer Dave Holland, who left the band after dealing with health issues that were prevalent during the band’s previous album cycle, for ‘Ram It Down.’ Not only was ‘Ram It Down’ initially part of a “less successful” duo of albums along with its predecessor ‘Turbo,’ but it coincided with Holland’s health issues which led to the band using a drum machine rather than replace Holland mid-album.

‘Turbo’ and ‘Ram It Down’ (originally meant to be a double release, veto’d by the label) combined to sell a meager 3,000,000 records, with the former doing most of the heavy lifting. If you’re going to disappoint people, dare I say, this is the way to achieve such a failure.

All of this is extremely relevant, because when you hear Travis’s opening to ‘Painkiller,’ it was a message loud and clear. This album was a statement, that Priest were not “done.” They hadn’t run out of ideas, they hadn’t gone soft, and they could compete with the best of what metal had to offer.

One of the most notable guitar duos in hard rock and metal history, Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing really brought their best to the table on this release. Historically, these two were a bit more meticulous, and less wildly flailing with their lead guitar work. Much more deliberate players can often be incorrectly perceived as being less technical, but on this release the two laid down some real scorchers without sacrificing their signature sound or technique.
Judas Priest
The ominous, ballad-esque ‘A Touch of Evil’ is co-written by legendary producer Chris Tsangarides (Anvil, Thin Lizzy, Helloween, Angra, Yngwie, Depeche Mode, Tom Jones), and basically features the last of the synth-era ‘Priest tunes. Multiple songs on ‘Painkiller’ initially featured synth tracks, but ‘Evil’ is the only track from which they were not removed. The album would be nominated for a Grammy for Best Metal Performance in 1990, but would lose to Metallica’s cover of ‘Stone Cold Crazy.’ Thanks, Jethro Tull!

Also of note, ‘Painkiller’ was the final ‘Priest release to feature vocalist Rob Halford until his return in 2005. Tim “Ripper” Owens would eventually be brought on to replace the Metal God, and the band would release two albums with Owens up front; ‘Jugulator’ and ‘Demolition.’ These albums left most fans clutching their copies of the ‘Turbo’ album duo, but they did manage to mildly influence the film ‘Rockstar,’ another Grammy loss to Metallica, and a Rob Halford spin off into some seriously heavy and awesome solo albums, no doubt picking up where ‘Painkiller’ left off.

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