Judas Member Once Recorded Hidden Message
A member of the British rock group Judas Priest told a judge that he once recorded a hidden message in one of his songs but not in the album “Stained Class,” which a lawsuit claims encouraged two young men to commit suicide.
Rob Halford, 39, a member of the heavy metal group, testified Tuesday in Washoe District Court that he intentionally placed a hidden message in the song “Love Bites,” which was recorded about seven years after “Stained Class.”
Halford said he had hoped that the message, which can be understood only when the record is played backwards, would “enhance its value.”
Judas Priest and CBS Records are defendants in a suit filed by the parents of Raymond Eugene Belknap, 20, and James Vance, 18, who shot themselves in 1985 after an afternoon of drinking beer, smoking marijuana and listening to “Stained Class.”
The plaintiffs, seeking at least $500,000 in damages, contend that the band and record company should be held liable for the two young men’s deaths. The parents say the album contained the subliminal message “do it, do it,” which prompted the two young men to kill themselves.
But Halford told Judge Jerry Carr Whitehead, who is hearing the case without a jury, that Judas Priest did not put the words “do it, do it” into their “Stained Class” album, recorded in 1978.
While on the stand, Halford sang portions of “Better by You, Better Than Me,” adding that the sound some may believe is “do it” is just his inhaling his breath.
Under cross-examination by plaintiffs’ attorney Ken McKenna, Halford admitted placing a reversed message in “Love Bites.”
He said the phrase “in the dead of the night, love bites” was intentionally reversed on the recording. When played forward, the listener can only hear garble; but if played backwards, the phrase can be heard, he said.
Defense attorneys contend that Belknap and Vance were troubled youths and the Judas Priest album was not responsible for their suicides.
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