Ripper Returns in Iced Earth

Former Judas Priest singer rocks on

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Vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens' charmed life continues. Plucked from obscurity by Judas Priest to replace legendary frontman Rob Halford, Owens recorded two studio albums (Jugulator and Demolition) and one live set ('98 Live Meltdown) and toured the world with the band he idolized as an aspiring metal singer. So fantastic was his story that it was made into a major motion picture (Rock Star) in 2001. His luck seemed to have come to an end last July, however, when Judas Priest announced that it would be reuniting with Halford after a decade apart and ushered Owens out the door.

Unbeknownst to most at the time, though, Owens had just completed the vocals on Iced Earth's latest opus The Glorious Burden after the band's guitarist/songwriter Jon Schaffer called on him to re-record former singer Matt Barlow's parts, which were deemed unsatisfactory. Owens originally did the recording with no intention of joining Iced Earth, but upon his dismissal from Priest he considered his options and decided to go forward with the American trad-metal vets.

"I loved the material on The Glorious Burden," Owens says. "My family loved it. They thought it was the best singing that I've done in a while. I wanted to stick to what I do best and my roots in music."

Indeed, the material on The Glorious Burden is perfectly suited for Owens' forceful, multi-octave bellow. No longer standing in the shadow of one of metal's most beloved legends, Owens shows that he is a versatile and talented hard-rock vocalist. Aside from his ample mike skills, his joining Iced Earth has also helped bring the band to another level of fame -- The Glorious Burden cracked the Billboard Top 200, debuting at Number 145. "I think [my presence] definitely helps," he says. "It doesn't hurt that it's a good record. But it definitely helps when you have the ex-singer of Judas Priest."

Despite his split from Priest, Owens continues to maintain close ties with his former bandmates, and songs featuring him will be included on a Judas Priest retrospective box set due later this year. "I'm here today because of Judas Priest," he says. "Yeah, I'm a talented singer, but luck is involved when Judas Priest gives you a call."

Iced Earth tour dates:

4/18: Columbus, OH, Newport Music Hall
4/19: Sauget, IL, Pop's
4/20: Chicago, Metro
4/21: Minneapolis, Quest
4/23: Detroit, Harpos
4/24: Milwaukee, The Eagles Club
4/25: Cleveland, Odeon
4/26: Toronto, Government
4/28: Montreal, The Medley
4/29: New York, B.B. Kings
4/30: Philadelphia, Trocadero
5/1: Worcester, MA, Palladium
5/2: Washington, DC, 9:30 Club
5/4: Atlanta, Masquerade
5/5: Orlando, House Of Blues
5/7: New Orleans, House Of Blues
5/8: Houston, Engine Room
5/9: Austin, Backroom
5/10: Dallas, Deep Ellum Live
5/12: Denver, Ogden Theatre
5/14: Vancouver, Commodore Ballroom
5/15: Seattle, Graceland
5/17: San Francisco, Avalon
5/18: Santa Ana, CA, The Galaxy
5/19: Scottsdale, AZ, The Venue
5/21: Los Angeles, House of Blues