RIPPER OWENS - VOCALS:
A New Day
Born Timothy Owens April 12, 1968 in Akron, Ohio, where he still resides.
Joined Judas Priest in February 1996 and carried the band through until their inevitable reunion with Rob Halford in July 2003.
Wife Julie, son, Timothy Steven Owens Jr. Has a teenage daughter named Lauren from a previous marriage to Leslie Anderson.
Nickname "Ripper" given by Glenn Tipton at a pub after the initial audition, where Owens impressed when he covered the song of the same title.
name? The Ripper!"
- Ripper Owens
While the movie deviated from reality, one fact rings true - Tim Owens ascended from a tribute singer to the very throne of his Metal God idol...
Indeed, Tim ascended to the heights that only dreams are made of, but his path to success actually began at home with the support of his family. In fact, his parents are so supportive of his musical choices that for his 18th birthday, they had a cake decorated with the Metallian figure off the cover of Defenders Of The Faith! It all began in 1983 when Tim was at the impressionable age of 16 and his older brother brought home the Judas Priest album Screaming for Vengeance. Soon after, a transformation had begun:
"His room - walls and ceiling - was nothing but
posters of Judas Priest."
- Sherri Owens (Ripper's mom), New York Times, July 27, 1997
"Adding to the remarkable
nature of Owens's career move is the fact that he came to the attention of Judas
Priest not because he sought the band out but by dint of a grainy, homemade
videotape of one of his performances, 'I still can't quite believe it', said
Owens, who has a Charlie Brown youthfulness in his round face and lives in a
neat little frame house next door to his parents in a blue-collar Akron
neighborhood surrounded by crumbling factories, junkyards and tattoo parlors.
The group and its manager have been grooming Owens for his new role, trying to
mold an image that minimizes the past. The name Tim is becoming only a memory.
Comparisons to Halford are discouraged. So are stories of birthday cakes,
madrigals and mothers. 'That's not very heavy metal', explained Jane Andrews,
Judas Priest's co-ordinating manager. 'We don't want to turn off the fans'. But
Judas Priest fans are already fascinated. The legend of Ripper is spreading on
the World Wide Web and in magazines like Metal Edge. In a chrome-and-leather
universe, one in which metalheads dress and coif to ape their heroes, one of
their own has ascended into the heavens."
- Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times, July 27, 1997
Young Owens in his teen years
At 18, Owens was heard singing the high notes louder than the PA at a local Akron, Ohio club where the band U.S. Metal were performing. The two musicians who discovered him, Dan Johnson and Steve Trent, then formed a band with Owens called Damage, Inc. and they played all the heavy metal standard covers, especially Judas Priest tunes. In 1986, Tim was asked to try out for another local Ohio metal band called Breaker. but Owens opted to remain with Damage, Inc. By 1988, the band changed their name to Brainicide, but they still played Priest covers, and one tune in particular that had become a staple of Tim's - "Victim Of Changes":
this point in the live version when Halford holds this, 'No, no, noooooooo', and
Tim would hold that note infinitely, absolutely as long as he could. Every time,
he would stagger around the stage and nearly fall down, deprived of oxygen!"
- Dan Johnson, New York Times, July 27, 1997
But in 1990, Brainicide changed their style to what has been described as "death metal meets psychotic metal", leaving little room for Tim's distinct vocal abilities, so he simply left and replaced the singer he used to mimic in the band U.S. Metal. Shortly after that, Tim was invited to try out for local band Winters Bain, and he began writing a concept album with the band's guitarist Lou St. Paul. That album, Heart Of A Killer, was picked up by Massacre Records and recorded in Germany. But the album only got distributed in Europe and the band had to come up with a unique strategy to raise their profile - they went out as a Judas Priest tribute band called British Steel and then opened for themselves as Winters Bain!
great. We went from getting $50 a show to $1,000. I'd sing 45 minutes of Winters
Bane originals, then put on the leather and do two hours of Priest. People would
look up and say, `Hey, isn't that the same guy?' "
- Tim Owens, New York Times, July 27, 1997
British Steel soon came into its own without Winters Bain and Tim continued in the tribute band to pursue his first love - that of imitating the Rob Halford glory days of Judas Priest. But soon the dominating scene of grunge became the style of the day and in 1995, Tim found himself joining a grunge/alternative tribute band called Seattle. In fact, Owens would even find time during and after the JUGULATOR tour to reunite with his local band mates for some good times and memories (some bootleg video footage even exists)...
"I tried to get
one gig a week in with my old outfit Seattle while I was here to pass my time on
the weekends. I figured I could go out on the weekend, play a gig, make some
money and drink for free, instead of going out and spending a hundred dollars.
We have so much fun. We're just all such good friends. It's just a blast. It was
one of my bands in the past that I couldn't wait to come back and do it with. I
called from Japan and said, 'Hey, why don't you get us some shows. Why don't we
do some and make a little cash. That way, I don't have to get into my checking
- Ripper Owens, Ohio Scene, 1998
It was a year after having joined Seattle, that an old, grainy videotape of Tim performing with British Steel at Sherlock's in Erie, Pennsylvania made its way into the hands of Priest drummer Scott Travis, unbeknownst to Tim. Scott, fresh out of Fight, was heading to Wales, England to meet the rest of Priest and prepare to audition vocalists. But once the band viewed the tape, they knew their search was over!
And what of those postered walls of Tim's youth? Well, his walls are still covered in Judas Priest posters and photos, but there's a twist: Owens is in the pictures now!
"What's really cool is that by the time I
joined Priest I had a lot of influences. Chris Cornell was a big influence of
mine, as was Layne Staley. Ronnie James Dio is a major influence of mine. And
Halford was. There were a lot. Those are probably the ones that really got me.
There were others like Joey Belladonna from Anthrax, or, I guess, Belladonna now.
There were a lot. But the thing that's made it work is my own personality and my
own voice. Everything fits with this band. I don't have to act like somebody
else or try. When I just act like myself, it just fits with it. They don't have
some long-haired, California guy who doesn't fit. That's why it took them so
long to pick somebody. I think they finally found someone who is genuine, who is
normal, who fits. Like the lady from GQ magazine said, 'Nice guy, he just
happens to sing like the devil.' "
- Ripper Owens, Metal Update, January 23, 2002
"The guys helped me calm
down right away, because they treated me so well from the start. We got along so
well, and it made me feel really good - I think that helped me. But I still
pinch myself every now and then. When you look on your wall, and you have a
nomination for a Grammy on your first record, that's pretty good."
- Ripper Owens, Metal Edge, September, 2002
Damage, Inc./Brainicide 1985 - 1990
U.S. Metal 1990 - 1991
Winters Bane 1991 - 1993
British Steel/Winters Bane 1991 - 1993
British Steel 1993 - 1995
Seattle 1995 - 1996, 1998
"When I first
started Damage Inc., which eventually became Brainicide - we played a show in
Cleveland at Shadows and my parents drove up there. They watched British Steel
in Columbus. They watched me this weekend with Seattle. They drove to the
Pittsburgh show to see Priest. So, it's not like all of a sudden they started to
do it... I was lucky that my parents were always supportive. Everybody knows
them from the shows. My mom went to Ramon's, Temple Tavern, Crossroads. I
probably had the only parents that went to shows. My mom and dad were the only
ones that came out from the start."
- Ripper Owens, Ohio Scene, 1998
A NEW DAY:
Then, rumors abounded when Ripper became friends with Pantera around the time when their singer Phil Anselmo was starting a side project called Down. Many speculated that Ripper was a mere hired-gun in Priest and unhappy with the situation:
"No, I mean
you gotta figure you got a big machine that has a lot of expenses, so no...we
all got equal pay, but unfortunately, you get paid from a record label to make
an album and every single penny is spent making it. Nobody gets anything. And
then you have your attorneys and your accountants and your management...and
everything in this machine that you have to pay out. I mean, I got paid decent
in Priest, I got paid good in Priest, and there's no doubt about it."
- Tim Owens, FoundryMusic, January 16, 2004
It was rumored that Ripper was going to leave Priest to replace Phil in Pantera, but those rumors proved to be untrue, as Ripper continued his reign with the mighty Priest. Ripper did however jokingly say he'd consider joining Dimebag Darrell's latest project, (which became Damage Plan, who's current vocalist happens to be former Halford guitarist Patrick Lachman):
"I'd be flattered if he
called. If Judas Priest ends, that's when I'd like to hear from Dimebag,"
- Ripper Owens
Well, the Priest gig did finally end. Ripper Owens had kept Judas Priest going for 6 years, with two studio albums, a Grammy nomination, two double-live albums and a live DVD credited to his name, but the inevitable happened: With Ripper's blessing and encouragement, Rob Halford was called back into the fold to recapture the glory of Priest, celebrating 30 years as an industry staple. But Owens did not have to wait long to make his next career move... Many calls came in, but it would be Jon Schaffer's Iced Earth, not Dimebag's band, whom Owens would be joining! Owens had volunteered to grace the new Iced Earth album The Glorious Burden with his vocals since their vocalist had left the band. And after much decision and speculation, Tim Owens agreed to become the new singer for Iced Earth.
Iced Earth with Tim Owns
"Tim was hired to do the vocals for the record only. Two days after we finished,
he lost his gig with Priest. Obviously this changes things and maybe he will be
the new guy someday in the future, but right now he needs some time to figure
out what he's going to do...There will come a time when I will decide to look
for a permanent singer in the near future, if Tim can't commit. I hired Tim to
do this record knowing that he had the ability to do the parts that I'd written
and that was the extent of it. I would love to have Tim as the new frontman in
Iced Earth, but he's got to want it or it's no good for anyone involved. He's
going through a big change in his life and I will give him some time to figure
out what he wants for his future career, but obviously we can't wait
forever...Either way, Iced Earth will carry on in the same tradition as always.
I feel great and am very, very optimistic for the band's future, no matter who
ends up in the vocal position. I will find the right guy and maybe it is Tim.
Time will tell. This record has brought about a new beginning for the band and
fate will take its course!"
- Jon Schaffer, BW&BK, August 8, 2003
"...to make it clear, I didn't join the band! I just did the vocals, and I
really love the stuff. I really want to put my own stuff together. We shall see."
- Tim Owens, BW&BK, August 8, 2003
ďWell everyone, it is
official. Tim Owens is the new frontman and lead vocalist of Iced Earth and I
couldn't be happier!
There is no doubt that fate has played a big part in our lives in these last few months and I truly believe that this is the way it was meant to be. Everything happens for a reason! Tim did an outstanding job on this record. In five very relaxed days, he nailed the parts, and I mean NAILED them! I don't think I've ever laughed as much and had as much fun in the studio before. He is definitely bringing new life into the band and the future looks very bright for us as a team. Tim knows who he is, what he stands for and is very dedicated; and he's funny as hell, all very important traits! One of the greatest things about all of it is that The Glorious Burden is a new beginning. I'm very, very excited to see what Tim and I can do together as a writing team. There is real chemistry between the two of us and I'm 100% confident that Iced Earth's best work is in our future. I feel like I'm 10 years younger and am having more fun than I've ever had before. I see us having a very long and fulfilling career together! In my opinion, nothing we've ever done comes close to The Glorious Burden. It is by far the best album in all ways, writing, performance and spirit. It is now the way it was meant to be! Look for Iced Earth on our "Glorious World Tour" starting in early 2004. I'm so psyched I can hardly wait!! The Revolution Is Closer Than Ever Before!"
- Jon Schaffer, guitarist, Iced Earth Bandboard, August 19, 2003
Tim Owens and Jon Schaffer
"It did gel. We got along really well. Itís just this chemistry thing that we had. After Priest and I split, I didnít decide to join immediately. I waited about a month or so. I had other offers. I had about 10 or 15 other offers. I had good offers. I had some offers from bands that werenít known, but had a major label and major management. Anybody else would have jumped at that, but I had to think of what was best for now and for the future.
"You know, some singers have left heavy metal in the past and been able to come back because theyíve been in metal for a long time and they just decided to try something. You can do that, but for me, I donít think Iíve done enough to earn that right to try something else thatís kind of off the beaten path. You know what I mean? Like a nu-metal excursion or somethingÖ the thing is if I did it, would I be able to deal with it tomorrow? What do I love? What can I do now that I can do 10 years from now? Thatís the thing with Iced Earth. I can do that. I could join a band, sell a million copies, be killer, and then the next record sell a hundred thousand, not have another record and never be seen again. Thatís what I didnít want. Iíd rather sell 300,000 copies or more, and do my own thing. Iced Earth is heavy. The whole thing that I went through toÖ I am heavy metal, and I believe itÖ this band is a well-oiled machine that keeps getting bigger.
"The thing with this is Iím able to do some things that I couldnít do with Priest. Obviously, Priest arenít fans, I mean everybody really knows this, but they arenít big fans of Iron Maiden. Everybody knows that. They like the guys, but you know... I have a tendency to have a high, soaring natural voice. I couldnít really use it. If I sounded too much like Halford, I would be bombarded. Thatís just how I sing. I have a voice that could sound like a Dio, a Halford, Bruce DickinsonÖ all that mixed into one voice. In Priest, I had to watch those things. I had to sing more in character. Now I can do what I want.
"The thing about it is also,
75-90% of the takes on this record were done on the first take. It was never cut
up a lot. That was the big thing. They just let me go and sing. That was a big
thing. I loved the records with Priest. I loved
Demolition, and I loved
Jugulator. I loved it because
there were a lot of different characters in the voice, and a lot of different
feelings. I donít like to be too stagnant and too much of the same. I like to be
versatile. I think Priest let me do that. I like to sing different all the time.
This is just another way that people can hear me sing now. Thatís the fun of it.
I enjoy those albums. Whatís funny now is Iíve talked to a lot of people who
like Demolition now, but didnít
like it when it came out. Thatís the funny thing. It was an album that would
grow on you. The vocals in Iced EarthÖ the difference is Jon and Glenn are
different writers. Jon writes with a lot more passion, a lot more melodic, a lot
more vocalized. He writes these amazingly melodies. Glenn writes more in
character. Itís fucking killer. He writes these character-like voices, which is
a lot of fun. Five days, though, doing the vocals is pretty quick. I would have
liked to have spent two weeks. There are some songs that I would have liked to
have made better. ďValley ForgeĒ is one of my least favorites. In truth, I would
have liked to have stepped up ďRed BaronĒ a bit. Maybe Iím pickier on that
because I wrote the lyrics and the melodies. On the other hand, I canít complain.
They were still all good to me. When you spend five days on a record, you always
think, 'Well maybe, I should have spent six days.' Thereís a lot of people that
Iíve played it for, that have said itís the best Iced Earth. Itís pretty cool to
- Tim Owens, KNAC.com, January 27, 2004
"Well, I had a great time in Priest. The only difference may be that now I can hop in my car for four and a half hours and actually see Jon. I have a great relationship with him, and I've always had a great relationship with the guys in Judas Priest. I didn't get to write, and that was a downfall. Basically though, the biggest problem for me was we weren't busy enough in Judas Priest.
"...You had to figure that I
was under a contract where I wasn't supposed to do anything else. Even if I was
able to, I never knew when Priest was gonna start working again. If I had
decided at some point that I wanted to do a solo record, I never knew when
Priest was gonna get back together and start working. It was just a hard thing
to do. I was fine with it though because it was just such a great time. We were
such good friends, and we all got along so well that it never really bothered me
until maybe this past year. That's probably when I first started trying to
figure out just what in the hell was going on with that, but it never did hurt
- Tim Owens, Electric Basement, December 2003
"Jon has said for the past...I don't know how long... since he saw me in the Jugulator tour, that when he writes music, he writes for someone like me. That kind of voice is what he thinks of when he writes music. He's always said that, so now he's got it...so I think the fans should dig that and like it, because this is what Jon's vision is.
never quit Iced Earth, and I never would rejoin Judas Priest. But if Priest were
to say, 'Listen, we're gonna do a couple of months tour, and you wanna do a tour
with us, just being the guest Ripper here?', then I'd probably do that if it fit
in my schedule. But I would never rejoin them permanently."
- Tim Owens, FoundryMusic, January 16, 2004
Besides joining Iced Earth, Owens also has plans to release a solo album and getting away from the cover band sit-ins:
ďIt's very basic verse-chorus-verse stuff with catchy choruses... ďPlaying with The Sickness is a really fun thing to do. Iím really good friends with those guys. But itís going to end for me pretty soon. Iím trying to get things going for myself now and it doesnít look so good that Iím singing covers again.
"Being in Judas Priest was like
my college, and I got to go for free. Now whoever wants me to sing for them, it
will be because I sang with Judas Priest and got my degree.Ē
- Ripper Owens, Canton Repository, August 8, 2003
"You know if I had to describe
it actually, It would probably be more of a BLACK SABBATH/Priest-ish, kind of
a...It's hard to describe. I'm going in tonight to record an acoustic song, and
then I'll probably start... I mean, this is all my demo tape...and I'll probably
do the demo tape and then go into the studio and do the drums next week...and
I'll get the demo tape done. It is hard to juggle, doing it right now. It's good
classic-type metal, and classic type vocals, driven by the choruses, that people
can sing with, and it's real basic songs because I wrote all the material.
nothing real fancy. I just kind of wrote it, so I don't really know...it's hard
to describe your own stuff, I mean, it's my own stuff....and it's weird, because
I was never influenced by Sabbath at all. I never listened to 'em all that much,
except for with Ronnie James Dio. It's just, to me, I would have to say there
might be some guitar riffs that kind of have that or something. It's just, you
know...hard to describe."
- Tim Owens, FoundryMusic, January 16, 2004
"Iím going to do a side project when Iím off. Maybe I can talk to Scott Ian about playing a tune. Itís all shit Iíve written. Iím going to be playing mostly with my friends around here. They donít get to travel around the world and be a rock star, but theyíre good musicians. Iím going to record a demo, get a deal, and do that on the off-time.
"Iíve been writing these songs for a while. Some of these were actually written for Priest. Thatís what makes it so exciting.
to have my friends play it, but Iíve played everything on the four-track version
I wrote at my house. It was all written by me, and itís cool to do that. Iíve
never done it. This will be the first time Iíve written everything. It will be
good. It will be basic Heavy Metal, chunky riffs, catchy choruses. That was
another thing with Jon. He said, 'You do your own thing. Iíll do Demons and
Wizards and you do your own thing.' He wants me to do my own thing - he said
thatís how you learn. Itís all good."
- Tim Owens, KNAC.com, January 27, 2004
Spawn - Round 2 (1999) - Owens produced this Ohio "groove/core" metal band's second album, which features the MŲtley CrŁe cover "Louder Than Hell"
"I feel like it was a good time for me to do it, 'cause I've been in the studio quite a bit.
with Glenn and K.K. in the studio, I did feel comfortable. It's a good learning
experience for me also. I felt pretty confident with my ear. It's fun to be able
to turn the knobs for a little bit. I think I might try to do some more of that
in the future. It's fun to do it with Spawn. They're good guys. They've got a
live band. They're tight. They have a lot of good originals."
- Ripper Owens, Ohio Scene, 1998
Kickstart My Heart - A Tribute To Motley CrŁe (2000) - Owens produced and lended backing vocals to the Spawn tribute of the CrŁe's "Louder Than Hell"
Bat Head Soup, A Tribute To Ozzy (2000) - Owens performs "Mr. Crowley" with Yngwie Malmsteen, Tim Bogert, Tommy Aldridge, and Derek Sherinian
The Tribute Do The Talking'
(Japan)/One Way Street (Europe) (2002) - Owens sings "Round And Round" a
tribute to Aerosmith, and is joined by Reb Beach, Tim Bogart, and Eric Singer
Anthrax - Live on the final date of the US 2nd leg Demolition tour February 19, 2002, Palace of Auburn Hills, Michigan - "Caught In A Mosh"