“McCartney was fantastic. Mind you, I tried one of those Hofner basses and I thought it was crap”: Judas Priest’s heavy metal veteran Ian Hill picks his top 5 bass albums

Ian Hill of Judas Priest performs in support of the Redeemer Of Souls Tour at Fox theater on October 19, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Heavy metal fans of a certain age will remember the rise of Judas Priest, the perennial quintet which has ruled the metallic airwaves from 1974 onwards in a variety of lineups. 

In a half-century of the British heavy metal institution, bassist Ian Hill (who has been in Priest since 1970) has seen it all. “People ask me, ‘Did you ever think Priest was going to last this long when you started?’ I tell them that when we started the band, the concept of somebody doing this sort of thing in their 70s just didn’t exist.”

Having rolled out Trial By Fire – the second single of their upcoming album Invincible Shield, which is slated for March 8th, 2024, the mighty Judas Priest has also announced a series of European shows alongside Saxon and Uriah Heep. 

We asked Hill to name five albums that helped him along the righteous path to metal glory, and left an indelible impression on his musical brain.

1. John Mayall with Eric Clapton – Blues Breakers (1966)

“This was the pinnacle of British blues in my opinion: John Mayall was such a huge figure when it came to that music. Of course, the bass was played by John McVie, one of the all-time classic British blues bassists. He’s so underrated and yet he’s played in so many bands, including Fleetwood Mac, of course. I think John is overlooked as a bass player, for some reason, perhaps because all of the great musicians in Fleetwood Mac like Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood.”

2.The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) 

“Any musician of my age who says he wasn’t influenced by this album is a liar. It all comes together on this LP and it’s such high-quality pop music. McCartney is great on it. There are barely any solos, it’s all about the songwriting, and McCartney was fantastic both as a bassist and a writer. It epitomised the the music of its era. Everything that came after it looked back to it, somehow. Mind you, I tried one of those Hofner violin basses once and I thought it was crap.”

3. Cream – Wheels Of Fire (1968) 

“Jack Bruce is my all-time idol. He went through John Mayall’s band too, of course, as did Eric Clapton. What those two did in Cream with Ginger Baker was just amazing. If there was one album that I had to take with me to a desert island, this would probably be it. It’s an absolute peach, and they were so young when they did it. Listening to it you’d think they’d been playing together for 30 or 40 years, but no, they’d just started.”

4. Quartermass – Quartermass (1970)

“Johnny Gustafson was on bass and vocals on this album, and just as a vocalist he was great, let alone his bass playing, which was superb. He was one of the Liverpool musicians from the ‘60s, I think, and he did some work with Roxy Music as well. Neither he nor Quartermass ever got the attention they deserved, which was a shame because they were a great band. In Judas Priest’s early days, when we had Al Atkins on vocals, we used to do a few Quartermass numbers.”

5. Weather Report – Heavy Weather (1977)

“Roger Glover of Deep Purple first played me this album when we were with him in the studio. Jaco Pastorius was a breath of fresh air. You Absolutely knew when you heard it that he was an amazing player. It was such an awful waste, what happened to him. I know I play heavy metal, but I’ve always loved jazz. My dad was a jazz double bassist and he used to play it to me all the time. It’s a great form of music if you want to express yourself as a musician.”

Invincible Shield is available to pre-order. See www.judaspriestinvincibleshield.com for tour dates.

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Joel McIver

Joel McIver was the Editor of Bass Player magazine from 2018 to 2022, having spent six years before that editing Bass Guitar magazine. A journalist with 25 years' experience in the music field, he's also the author of 35 books, a couple of bestsellers among them. He regularly appears on podcasts, radio and TV.