Judas Priest Are Only Guilty Of Rocking: Wake-Up Video

Today marks a great day for truth, justice and the right to bang your head to loud guitars. About every ten years or so, some group launches a jihad against metal that blames its sex and darkness for turning normal everyday kids into rampaging psychopaths hellbent on the destruction of all that is good and pure. One such incident happened in 1990, when a civil action was brought against the members of Judas Priest. The plaintiffs alleged that a subliminal message hidden in the song "Better By You, Better Than Me" (from their 1978 album Stained Class) caused two men — 20-year-old James Vance and 18-year-old Raymond Belknap — to commit suicide in 1985. (Belknap killed himself with a shotgun, but when Vance took the weapon, it slipped out of his hand and he survived the blast; he died of a painkiller overdose a few years later.) The parents of the two men put the band on trial, claiming that the message "do it" hidden deep within the track was what drove the two to their self-destruction. However, on August 24, 1990, a judge dismissed the suit and ended the trial, finding Rob Halford and the rest of the band innocent of any wrongdoing. Halford would later flippantly say that encouraging his fans to commit suicide would be counter-productive to him, and that if he did want to drive them to do anything, it would be to buy more records.

It wasn't the first time that Priest had been accosted by people who thought metal was evil. Back in 1985 (the same year as the initial subliminal message incident), Tipper Gore founded the Parents Music Resource Center, a group that attacked record labels for loose standards (they're responsible for the "Parental Advisory" warnings on albums). One of the songs that was on Gore's initial "Filthy Fifteen" list of offensive songs was Judas Priest's "Eat Me Alive," a song that was pretty blatantly about oral sex. (Other entries on the list included Prince's "Darling Nikki," Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" and Cyndi Lauper's "She Bop.") Since Priest's records were now at the mercy of the federal government, Halford did the only thing he knew how to do: He wrote the fantastically rocking anthem "Parental Guidance."