Priest had some help, of course, as they were joined by contestant James Durbin, the 22 year-old from Santa Cruz that has been flying the metal flag on the reality series since he stepped on the Idol stage.
James rocked Priest’s "You've Got Another Thing Coming" back in March, possibly the first time heavy metal has hit the Idol stage. Week after week, Durbin got stronger and rocked harder, even bringing guitar legend Zakk Wylde on the show to help deliver the goods. For my money, no one else came close to generating the type of excitement James brought to the show throughout the season, which became even more obvious in the few episodes that followed his elimination; his absence was palpable.
Asked if there was any trepidation about letting Durbin take on their 1982 hit early in the season, guitarist Glenn Tipton told MTV News on the Idol red carpet before the show, "None whatsoever, I mean, if you look at what James has done for heavy metal, you've got to say thank you, you know? It's just bringing metal to the front, making it, metal, accessible for people. It's a good thing."
Such a good thing that there was no way Priest was going to miss an opportunity like Idol to spread the metal gospel; it also provided them with their first opportunity to introduce their new guitarist, Richie Faulkner, on the show; Faulkner replaces the recently retired K.K. Downing.
"Because we've lived so long and done so much stuff in heavy metal and we've seen so many crazy things and heard so many crazy things, when we heard this we went, 'F**k! That's incredible, man. Let's do it, you know? This is insane. That's just amazing,'" frontman Rob Halford explained of their reaction to getting Idol exposure. "So as it progressed from 'Another Thing Coming' 'till this point now, when we're on the carpet and we're about to do the show, it's just a dream come true for Priest, for metal and, mostly, for James Durbin"
As for whether there will ever be a collaboration between the fourth-place finalist and the British band, Halford was optimistic, saying, "Yeah, anything's possible."
"We just wish him all the best," added Halford. "He's got such an extraordinary voice. He's got such a genuine and lovable personality. He's the real deal, James, and we wish him the best. Good for you, James!"
Judas Priest – interview
MTV News - American Idol finale – May 25, 2011
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