On the 23rd of December 1985, Raymond Belknap (18, left) and James Vance (20, right), had forged a suicide pact while listening to 1978's Stained Class by Judas Priest.
After hours of drinking beer, smoking marijuana and allegedly listening to Judas Priest, both went to a playground at a church in Sparks with a 12-gauge shotgun to end their lives. In the school playground, Raymond Belknap presses a shotgun to his chin and pulls the trigger, James Vance did the same. But, where Belknap succeeded, Vance fails. Vance was left with a mutilated face, he would later die of numerous complications on Thanksgiving 1988.
Both the men's parents and their legal team took the band to trial in 1990 because the words "do it" could be heard if you played "Better By You, Better Than Me" backwards. They alleged the command in the song triggered the suicide attempt, despite the fact that both the men spent six hours drinking and smoking marijuana, both had a troubled childhood and substance-abuse problems.
In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, lead singer, Rob Halford said this about the trial;
I really wanted to go over to the mother of the boy who killed himself and give her a hug, and say, "I'm sorry for the loss of your kid. Let's go have a coffee and talk this over." But I think the deeper end of the story was that the people who were working for her in terms of prosecution was a very tangled web, because we heard there was a kind of infiltration from the extreme, right-leaning Christian groups that were urging them to pursue the case, telling them that we were responsible. But I would have loved to have just had the opportunity just to be with that family and let common sense prevail and talk it out. But you can't, because it's obviously a highly charged, emotional circumstance when you've lost your children. You're bound to be angry. You're bound to be upset. You're bound to be looking for some explanation.
Unsuprisaly, the trial was a success for Judas Priest as they never put any subliminal messages in any of their songs. This is not the first time that a song has had "subliminal messages" in it, one well-known example of such would be some of The Beatles' songs that, when played backwards, you could just about hear the words "Paul is Dead".
Written by Clive "James" Python, 12/02/17.