Back In Black Studded Leather: Halford Rejoins Priest

Heavy metal band will be whole again after a decade apart.

The gods of metal are whole again.

More than a decade after their split, Rob Halford will reunite with Judas Priest for an album and a tour in 2004.

"They will start working on songs together soon and we’re working with promoters to set up a world tour next year," said management spokesperson Jayne Andrews. Since the members of the group re-established contact with Halford in 1999, rumors of their reunion have been rampant.

"We’ve always stayed friendly and built bridges and gotten together from time to time," said Andrews. "We’ve all known Rob for 30 years, since the band[members] were 17 or 18 [years old], and they know each other’s families, so they got together to talk about old days and things just started to develop. The time just felt right for them now."

The metal legends — Halford, guitarists Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing, bassist Ian Hill and later member, drummer Scott Travis — plan to record their first studio effort together since 1990’s Painkiller later this year for release next spring, followed by a tour that will celebrate their 30th anniversary.

Known for such anthems as "Breaking the Law," "Living After Midnight" and "You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’," Priest were one of the premier British metal

bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s until their acrimonious split with Halford in the early '90s. Halford went on to release four albums with his bands Two, Fight and Halford, while Priest recruited a rabid fan who led a Priest tribute band, Tim "Ripper" Owens, to replace Halford on the 1997 album Jugulator.

Owens’ rags-to-riches story was so compelling that it was the basis for the fictionalized 2001 Mark Wahlberg/ Jennifer Aniston film "Rock Star." The second Ripper-led Priest studio album, Demolition, was released in 2001. With Halford back in, Ripper is obviously on the outs, but Andrews said the split was amicable.

A two-DVD live set with all of the band’s videos and an updated version of their Priest ... Live! concert disc will be released later this year.