Name: Steve Grennan
Location: Tipton, West Midlands
Occupation: painter & decorator
Tell us something about your history as a Judas Priest fan?
I first heard Priest back in the late 70s, I think it was “Take on the World” on “Top of the Pops”. It didn’t at that point blow my mind as such. But when I heard “Unleashed In The East”, that album just blew my mind, I had no idea who it was that I had just heard… it was my older brother playing it, I just heard it coming from his room. That, I believe, was the moment I became a fan, not just of Priest, but, as it was called then, “Heavy Rock”.
I started to build a collection of rock/metal albums from that point… slowly as I had no money back then… My first Priest purchase was “Breaking The Law” 7-inch gatefold single. I do still have that copy to this day… I managed to then get the following singles and “British Steel” itself around six months after release on a Canadian import… For some reason imports were a little cheaper back then. At that point I was mainly buying singles as they were more affordable. “Point of Entry” was next, and I purchased that on the day of release… I managed to pick up “Stained Class” and “Sin after Sin” from friends at school.
It’s hard to remember, but once I left school in 82 I had a little more money to play with, so I purchased the back catalogue one by one… and always purchased future releases on release dates. Although Priest were one of my favourite bands back in the early 80s, I did like and buy other bands’ music. Once I had the back catalogue (my brother eventually gave me “Unleashed”) I would always look for promo/demo copies, programs etc. when I had a little spare cash. I would say that by the late 80s Priest were the band for me, but it’s hard to actually pinpoint that moment.
You told that you had to rebuild the collection after being burgled in the 90s. At least the intruder must have had some musical taste…
It was mainly cds that were taken… I used to keep ticket stubs, picks etc in the case with the cd that was relevant to that ticket or pick …I also had mispressed cds and all kinds of rare items, some I’ve never managed to replace to this day… Also every other cd I had ever collected from other bands…. Not sure if they had any musical taste, I like to think when they looked at their haul, they maybe thought of bringing it back with a note saying “what the f*** “.
I went to every car boot, rare record shop and record fair for months, but they never showed up. So maybe they did enjoy them.
And whilst trying to replace them I found a whole new world of collectables.
How hard is it to get hands on the old Priest memorabilia? You seem to have an extremely impressive collection!
It’s very difficult at the moment… I do have a few local contacts, they only really contact me when they have something mega rare. I’m always on the lookout though… I don’t feel the need to have everything. That would be impossible… If I do see something I want, I have a price in mind and if it goes above that, well, it was never meant to be.
After all, you can’t take it with you, we are only looking after it for future generations.
Some parts of your collection have been featured on the Record Collector Magazine as well, am I right?
Yes, I helped Record Collector with an article on Priest rare records and memorabilia… I think around 2003/4. I actually used to buy the magazine for years, Priest were never or had never been featured, so I emailed them to complain. They replied saying they were about to do a feature, and did I have any rare items… well, the rest is history, as I worked with them over a 6-month or so period. I was invited to Sony of the back of that by the magazine to hear Angel of Retribution at a press review around 4 months before its release. And sat in on an interview with K.K.
How many times have you seen Priest live, and of those, what was the best experience?
Now that’s asking… Over 20 times easily… Interestingly, after first seeing Priest in 81, they only toured the U.K. two more times in that decade, late 83 and then in 88.
Got to be the first time, I think back in 81, to see them perform live for the first time, well it’s beyond words.
You’ve been involved with the Home Of Metal project, cherishing the metal roots of the Black Country. How is the project doing nowadays?
The Home Of Metal project only ran for 3 months, and was spread over 3 museums: Birmingham’s main museum, and two in Walsall. They did try to get lottery funding a few years ago to open a smaller permanent exhibition, but failed to get the funds. It may happen again sometime in the future…
You were also part of the cd box project, Metal Cuts, which was released a few years ago?
Yes I was involved with the Single Cuts boxset. I was actually introduced to Mark Wilkinson, Priest’s album artist, on the opening night of the Home Of Metal exhibition.
He was seeking the original 7″ singles as CBS only had them on A-labels, also memorabilia for the booklet. Of course, most of my collection was spread across 3 museums, but I managed to provide him with a fair few of the singles, and some of the memorabilia featured in the box.
Metal Cuts is a nice retrospective set of the UK single releases. Did the box come out as you planned, or did you have any further ideas of how it should have been?
Well I met Mark, I believe it would have been in June of 2011, the boxset was due for release in August. I don’t think at that point he had any singles or memorabilia to use, so it was a little rushed.
I think I would have liked to have seen the “Breaking The Law” single as a gatefold, with maybe a patch, as per the original release… and maybe “United” in a replica mini poster sleeve… Maybe a little bit more memorabilia in the booklet… But as I say, most of mine was tied up for 3 months. I think it’s a great little boxset though when all’s said and done… Mark did an excellent job.
Have you ever met any of the Priest guys?
Funnily enough, I met them on the Redeemer tour, after many many years of trying.
Managed to get backstage passes, pre and after show…
What did you think about the latest Priest release, Redeemer Of Souls?
I think it’s a great album. It fits well in the catalog.
What does the music of Judas Priest mean to you?
Oh, I love the Priest, they have never been afraid to change things/try new ideas. No two albums are the same, unlike so many bands, but it’s always Priest. Genius.
What is your favorite album and song?
You know I can’t answer that.
Your message to K.K. and the Millworkers?
Thanks so much for the music, K.K. Now can I have that Turbo Jacket?
Millworkers keep feeding the flames… Rock hard ride free.