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"I was out of my tree – I needed help": Remembering Judas Priest's Turbo

Turbo’s shiny synthesizers shocked diehard Judas Priest fans, but it was personal troubles that marred its inception. 30 years on, the band remember the tragedies and triumphs of its birth

Rob Halford can remember exactly where he was when he heard Turbo Lover in public for the first time. It was early 1986, and the Judas Priest singer was driving down Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip when the opening track from the band’s 11th album, Turbo, began blasting out of the radio.

“It’s a very vivid memory for me,” he says, his Walsall accent undiluted after all these years. “I’m driving a convertible Mustang with the top down, and Turbo Lover starts playing. I’m driving along, banging me head, all these people watching on the sidewalk. I know it sounds like I’m posing when I say that, but it was the best feeling in the world.”

Having spent the previous 15 years slogging their way from the booze’n’nicotine-stained pubs and clubs of the West Midlands to the arenas and stadiums of the world, the members of Judas Priest were rightly fired up by Turbo. This was the sound of a band moving with the times and engaging with leaps in technology – synths and shiny production and frothy, good-time lyrics were in. This was the gleaming new Judas Priest. The problem was that a lot of their old-school fans wanted the not-so-gleaming old Judas Priest.


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