TIM 'RIPPER' OWENS Says He Never Felt Like A Full-Fledged Member Of JUDAS PRIEST

John Petkovic of the Cleveland Plain Dealer spoke to ousted JUDAS PRIEST frontman Tim "Ripper" Owens about the group's decision to reunite with vocalist Rob Halford for an album and a world tour next year.

"There had been talk of Halford rejoining for a while," Owens said. "There had been so many big-money offers for them to reunite."

"I knew [the reunion with Halford] was going to happen," he continued. "I knew this wouldn't last. Rob is the original singer, and so he should also be the one there at the end."

PRIEST released two discs with Owens, "Jugulator" (1997) and "Demolition" (2001). Both received mediocre reviews and disappointing sales — 109,000 and 50,000, respectively, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

"When I joined, they had been broken up for about five years," he says. "The band had lost a lot of momentum, and it was hard to make up for lost time."

"Some people were disappointed, but they can't blame me," said Owens. "My vocals are right on. I just sang the songs they gave me."

According to Owens, he never felt like a full-fledged member.

"I had no control over decisions," he said. "At the same time, I couldn't pursue other projects because I was the lead singer in JUDAS PRIEST. It was frustrating, especially when we stopped touring this year."

When speculation started that Halford would rejoin, Owens even contemplated quitting.

"But I couldn't, " he said. "I figured something would happen. This was the best solution, for them and me."

Owens says he's already received offers from five bands, and he's currently pursuing a solo career and a collaboration with a musician he would not disclose. In addition, he is continuing to work with the local cover band THE SICKNESS.

"We're playing Erie, Pa., on Saturday [July 26]," says Owens. "I'll join them onstage to do some GODSMACK covers."

"This time it's for beer, fun and pocket change," the singer said. "Next time, I'm going to do my own stuff."

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