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Ugly Kid Joe’s Whitfield Crane Says He Was Offered Judas Priest Job

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Imagine this. It’s 1996, and after four years, Judas Priest finally reveal the identity of their new singer, the person who will try to fill the continent-sized shoes of Rob Halford, one of the greatest metal vocalists of all time. And Judas Priest’s new singer is… Whitfield Crane, frontman for Ugly Kid Joe, who, funny enough, had enlisted Halford’s help for their song “Goddamn Devil.”

According to Crane, at least, this alternate version of events could have been our reality. From a new interview with Metal-Rules.com:

“It was when Glenn Tipton was doing his [1997] ‘Baptizm of Fire’ record,’ and I got Shannon Larkin, our then-drummer to play on it. He played two songs and replaced some badass drummers on that because it was click tracked.

“Glenn pulled Shannon and me aside and said, ‘You boys can have the Priest gig if you want it,’ and Shannon and I were pretty much into Priest. I mean, we loved Priest.

“All I said was this, ‘Say it again.’ And Glenn’s pretty fucking brilliant – I mean, he goes, ‘What do you fucking mean, ‘Say it again’?’ And I’m all, ‘Just say it one time?’ And he’s like, ‘You can have the fucking Priest gig mate.’”

Crane went on to assert that he turned the job down for pretty much the reasons you’d imagine:

“I was thinking, we can’t do it, because you can’t be Rob Halford. You can’t be David Lee Roth. You can’t … it’d be cool, and considering my love for Priest, which is immense, that would have been cool to do it, but not really. It’s not a good move. But to jam with Tipton and to know those guys… I mean, those are my fucking heroes. Judas Priest, I mean, fuck.”

The timing certainly lines up: UKJ released Motel California in the fall of ’96 before splitting up for a more than a decade. Meanwhile, Baptizm by Fire came out in February of ’97, eight months before Priest’s first album with Tim “Ripper” Owens, Jugulator. Which actually had some decent tunes on it, although the world ultimately greeted it with a shrug.

As to why to why Tipton would say “You boys,” plural, implying he was also offering the job to Larkin, I have no idea. Scott Travis never vacated the job. Maybe that’s just a slip of the tongue.

In any case, I’m both sorry and glad this didn’t happen. Sorry because I loves me some Whitfield Crane (and still think he would have made a great vocalist for Anthrax). A little bit because Crane is right, nobody was ever really gonna be able to replace Rob Halford. But mostly because if “Ripper” Owens never joined the band, the world would never have been gifted the movie Rock Star, which is very (very, very, very) loosely based on his life. And then where would we all be???

[via Loudwire]

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