IAN ("SKULL") HILL - BASS:

Connections

Support

Gear

Born Ian Frank Hill on January 20, 1952 in West Bromwich, England and to this day, he still makes his home just outside of Birmingham.

"The fame thing doesn't really worry me. There's nothing I like better than getting up on stage and playing in front of several thousand people. The fact that the other guys get all the limelight doesn't bother me at all."
- Ian Hill, Heavy Duty official biography, 1984

Christmas time at Ian's house and gold ornaments decorate the place... RIAA Gold, that is!
(Pictures courtesy of Ken Morrison)

Ian was married to Rob Halford's sister Sue and has a son, Alexander, from that marriage. Ian and Sue divorced in 1988 and Ian is now in a second marriage and has a young daughter from that union:

“Rob Halford’s my ex-brother-in-law. His sister and I were divorced several years ago, about ten years ago now. I see his sister from time to time because my son lives there. So, obviously, I see her when I pick him up..."
- Ian Hill, Prime-Choice, January 21, 1998

     "I have a little daughter and my first boy is 19; he’s playing in a band of his own. But I missed a lot of his childhood in the '80s. It was album, tour, album, tour, then I’d be off again.
     "My lad is playing in a little group at the moment and they’re playing the stuff I used to play, the Cream stuff, the Hendrix stuff and old blues numbers!"

- Ian Hill, Classic Rock Revisited, July 19, 2000

Ian's son Alex plays bass in a Midlands rock band called Gravel:

Gravel L-R: Alex Hill - bass, Dame -vocals, Rob "Banger" Stimpson - drums, Robert Jones - guitar

“I did go round loads with my dad when he was on stage and saw him play. He never over-glamorised it though. He says it’s really difficult to make it in this industry but it’s just as difficult once you have made it, keeping it going, touring, writing albums and of course playing gigs.
     “But I live to play and that’s what I’ll do, to as many people as I can, in as many countries as I can and for free if I have to.”
- Alex Hill, Walsall Advertiser, August 7, 2003

There has also been a long-running rumor that Ian's son was the boy playing the video game in the "Freewheel Burning" promo video, but Alexander was born in 1981 and would have only been about 3 years old when that video was filmed!

“Yet again - just another rumour!  It was not Ian Hill's son!
- Jayne Andrews, Management Co-ordinator for Judas Priest, March 29, 2004

Ian and Sue divorced in 1988 and the relationship between Ian and Rob was severed as well when Rob left Judas Priest in '92:

“Rob Halford’s my ex-brother-in-law. His sister and I were divorced several years ago, about ten years ago now. I haven’t seen Rob since he left. I see his sister from time to time because my son lives there. So, obviously, I see her when I pick him up. But for obvious reasons, I’ve stayed clear of Rob."
- Ian Hill, Prime-Choice, January 21, 1998

But in 1999, Rob made an attempt to rebuild his friendship with his former mates, and with Rob's return to the band in 2003, the family is restored once again!

At 13 years of age, Ian learned the rudiments of bass from his father who himself played the double bass:

"He used to play in some of the Big Bands and a few jazz outfits. He taught me scales and things, but then he died when I was 15."
- Ian Hill, Heavy Duty official biography, 1984

Soon Ian got his first bass, which was made from a modified lead guitar with two machine heads removed for a four-string setup. Then after wrecking his car, Ian was able to buy his own real bass guitar with the insurance money he received:

"I like cars - I guess you could say I've always been a bit of a car freak. I like fiddling around, taking them to bits and then putting them back together again...[but] I decided it was either the bass or a new car - and music ended up coming first."
- Ian Hill, Heavy Duty official biography, 1984

Ian's bass playing influence was Cream's Jack Bruce.

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CONNECTIONS:

In his youth, Ian attended the same Yew Tree Junior school as K.K. Downing, and both moved on to Churchfields School, but they did not become friends until their teens, when it was their musical talents that brought them together. This musical collaboration would be the foundation which would lead to the formation of the Judas Priest we all know and love.

As for whether Ian and K.K. would ever considering following in Glenn's footsteps and putting out their own solo albums:

"It's quite possible. We've put a lot of time and effort into Priest for 30 years, so for the time being we're committed to doing what we're doing."
- Ian Hill, USA Today online chat, February 8, 2002

And it was through Ian that Rob Halford came into the band, as Ian was dating Rob's sister in 1973 when Al Atkins left and they needed a new singer. Ian went on to marry Sue Halford and they have a son, but Ian and Sue were later divorced.

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SUPPORT:

Ian Hill is the quiet one in the band. He doesn't play any bass solos, nor does he stand out on the band's tracks. He does not move very much from his own spot on stage (he's even been accused of having his boots nailed to the floor!) and he gives very few interviews, causing fans and the media to speculate if there's some kind of "mystique" or secretive life to Ian:

"Nothing mysterious about it - I mean Ken, Glenn, and Rob are the three frontmen and they do a majority of the songwriting too; we've a majority of interviewers who want to speak to one of them, so it's not really that I don't want to do interviews or anything like that, it's just the way it works out."
- Ian Hill, Metal Shop, 1990

"The way I see it is that we've got three very effective frontmen in the group and I think that's enough for any band. If you had five frontmen, they'd start bumping into each other, not just physically, but also mentally in terms of writing and everything.

"Listening to the tracks, you can hear that I don't mess around with real intricate runs and stuff like that, basically because it isn't necessary. When you start doing that sort of thing with heavy metal music, I think it can start to detract from everything else that's going on. If I started going off in a tangent, instead of having a nice solid underlying base that K.K. and Glenn can build on, the whole thing would probably lose its strength..."
- Ian Hill, Turbo Fax tourbook by Steve Gett, 1986

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Gear:

"I play two major basses, a 4-string Stuart Spector bass, which I've played now for about 16 years, and a Hamer 5-string."
- Ian Hill, Mixdown magazine, December 2001

Early Gear:

Park 100 watt amp with Park or Marshall 4X12 cabinet

'80s Gear:

Ashley amp with EARS 12 and 15 cabinets

Current Gear:

Zoom 506 multi-effect pedal

"I like to think of my tone as a complete sound. I strive for a round, piano sort of tone. I like a lot of lows and highs; I pull out the mids with a graphic EQ."
- Ian Hill, Bass Player magazine, July 2002

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