Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing spoke in an interview with Metal Matt and explained how heavy metal fashion was born in ’80s. Here’s the statement:
“I was always kind of dark, heavy and moody — it could never be heavy enough; the heavier the better, whatever it is. We had a great name for the band —Judas Priest — the songs were great, all of that was evolving, but along the way, the clothes kind of stayed the same in a way. They were kind of bright and eclectic color-wise — yellows, pinks, greens… And sometime in the mid-’70s, I’m thinking, ‘It’s not right. It’s not right. Surely what we do in here, the color for us has to be black.’ I’m thinking, ‘It has to be black.’
So I’m thinking, ‘I’m going black.’ By that time, I was wearing black leather boots and stuff. I did have some white ones made that were really cool. The leather thing a bit more came into it — black leather. And I don’t know what happened, and I’m thinking, ‘But I want people to see me. I’m gonna stick some shiny stuff on there. It’s gotta be metal studs,’ whatever.
I was always one of those guys — I mean, just elaborating a bit too much — but in the mid-’80s, I was going to the hardware store and buying studs and knocking them into my guitars. More studs, more metal — I was always like that. But then it came to me, the fact that what what we really need, this band really needs, we do need a uniform look, ’cause it’ll make us more powerful. I’m thinking our image will be… W
hen we go out there, it’s like an army platoon or whatever — something that bonds us all. And I’m thinking, ‘That needs to be worked on a bit.’ And I was absolutely right, because proudly, when we were waiting to go on stage — wherever we were in the world — and I would look at my bandmates who were there with all this leather and studs… We weren’t exactly the same — we all had our different clothes — but the common denominator was leather, black and studs.
And I’m thinking, I can see the lights glittering on us, and it just felt really powerful. And we went out there in a kind of regimented-look type of way, and that’s what we really did need to have.
And, of course, then, really proudly, it was great that that spilled over into the audience — the audiences took denim, leather and studs, and the metal army was being born. So it’s fantastic it all happened.”
You can watch the entire interview from below.