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UNITED KINGDOM, West Midlands, West Bromwich

Date Formed 1965
Date Disbanded 1965

Categories: Classic Rock


Although conspicuous by his absence during the 1970s and 1980s, singer AL ATKINS had in his own way made his mark upon its origins as founder member of JUDAS PRIEST. Co-writer of the PRIEST stage classic 'Victim Of Changes' it was to be after a lengthy hiatus that Atkins was to return to the scene.

Atkins career started from his early teens when he was employed as a drummer for many Midlands acts including THE REACTION. Graduating to lead vocals his first port of call in 1966 was THE BITTA SWEET together with bassist Bruno Stapenhill, guitarists Albert Hinton and Brian Fieldhouse and drummer Lawrence 'Lossa' Farley. In 1968 Atkins and Stapenhill then joined an act titled HALFBREED, changing the name to THE CHAPTERS OF LIFE then, at an agent's insistence THE JUG BLUES BAND.

By 1968 the pairing of Atkins and Stapenhill had founded SUGERSTACK together with guitarists Jeff Furnival and Michael Reeves and drummer John Partridge. Reeves left to join POSSESSED but was killed in a road accident with fellow band members. Furnival joined EXTREEM. Atkins, Stapenhill and Partridge founded JUDAS PRIEST in 1969 with guitarist John Perry sowing the seeds of a future Rock legend.

Atkins left JUDAS PRIEST in May 1973 (being replaced by Rob Halford) to form LION with ex-JUDAS PRIEST bassist Stapenhill, ex-STALLION and JUG guitarist Harry Tonks and former EXTREEM, POSSESSED and BUDGIE drummer Pete Boot touring European clubs until their demise in 1978.

LION succeeded in arousing considerable record company interest but only ever released an indie single 'Journey' in 1977. During their time LION headlined gigs with support act THE STRANGLERS and played as guests to HEAVY METAL KIDS and the SEX PISTOLS. Stapenhill joined BULLION, reuniting with another ex-JUDAS PRIEST member guitarist Ernie Chataway and Pete Boot again after LION's split.

Atkins did not record again until 1989. Known by JUDAS PRIEST fans as the mystery co-writer of 'Victim Of Changes' Atkins cut a fresh version for inclusion on his debut 'Judgement Day' album, which also features his erstwhile colleague bassist Bruno Stapenhill. In style Atkins is a much bluesier vocalist than JUDAS PRIEST's internationally known Halford although still in posession of a powerful voice.

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