Rob Halford has rejoined Judas Priest, twelve years after leaving the pioneering British metal group. The reunited ensemble -- which also includes founding guitarist K.K. Downing and bassist Ian Hill, along with longtime drummer Scott Travis -- are planning a world tour for 2004, the thirtieth anniversary of its classic incarnation.
Judas Priest's turnover has been legendary in rock & roll history. The Birmingham, England-based band formed in 1969 and featured Downing and Hill backing frontman Alan Atkins. Halford joined the band in 1971, and the group struck its first record deal three years later with the addition of guitarist Glenn Tipton. Going through more drummers than Spinal Tap, Judas Priest unleashed a string of albums that defined heavy metal, finally breaking in the U.S. with 1980's British Steel and peaking with 1982's Screaming for Vengeance, which reached as high as Number Seventeen on the charts. A decade later, Halford left the band to start a new band, Fight. The band looked to a Priest tribute band for a replacement, hiring Tim "Ripper" Owens in 1995; Owens' rags-to-riches tale was adapted into the 2001 film Rock Star.
According to a statement, Owens departure was amicable. "The band is very grateful for Ripper's work in helping them to continue to bring Judas Priest's music to their millions of fans and they expect big things from him in the future."