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Van Halen I Big

VAN HALEN I and JUDAS PRIEST’S STAINED CLASS were both released 35 years ago today. WOW!

I was only 12 years old at the time and way more into baseball and school than rock and roll in February 1978. I had discovered KISS and RUSH by that time and I’ve been longtime supporters of both bands ever since.

VAN HALEN I changed the game for everyone, including me. It made little kids like me wanna play in a band. It made guys who already played guitar in a band completely rethink their future and it made already established legends in rock and roll stop and say holy shit!

I didn’t hear VAN HALEN until later that summer when one of my buddies said “you gotta hear this man,” as he pulled the LP out of its sleeve and placed it on his turntable. As the first notes and riffs came out of the speakers I was enthralled. I didn’t know what I was hearing but I did know it excited me in a way that nothing else ever had. My heart raced and my feet tapped and my head bobbed and I was just plain happy. VAN HALEN I still has that effect on me 35 years later. Yeah, it’s that important.


I didn’t discover JUDAS PRIEST until a couple years later so the impact of STAINED CLASS on me is much less powerful than it was on the history of heavy metal. STAINED CLASS is the first of the great JUDAS PRIEST albums. STAINED CLASS was the fourth album from JUDAS PRIEST and is the album where they found there stride and put all the elements together that made them second only to the might BLACK SABBATH as founders of heavy metal.

Tragically, STAINED CLASS became linked to a young man’s suicide in which he claimed in his suicide note to be told to end his own life by hidden messages in the song cover version of Spooky Tooth’s “Better by You, Better Than Me.”

In a famous court case, JUDAS PRIEST was sued and acquitted of any wrongdoing.

To think that both of these game changing albums were released on the very same day in February 1978 makes me even more appreciative of the era I was fortunate to grow up in and proud of it too.

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