In a recent conversation with Metal Hammer, Judas Priest’s former guitarist KK Downing was asked to list the top ten songs that impacted his life. When he named ‘Painkiller’ as his seventh choice, he also remembered the weird incident they experienced during the making of that album.

As you may recall, KK Downing officially left Judas Priest in 2011 and was replaced by the guitarist Richie Faulkner. Downing stated that he had many reasons to leave the band, but first and foremost, he pointed out the band’s internal conflicts, poor management, and also declining quality of performance.

But still, he has a very long history with the band, so it is not surprising that he listed many Judas Priest songs among his favorites. His seventh choice was the self-titled song of the 1990 album ‘Painkiller.’ He stated that he likes every song on it and then recalled its creation process. Downing revealed that they were summoned to court at the time because they were charged with the death of two fans.

In 1990, Judas Priest was sued for the actions of two fans who had committed suicide five years ago. In 1985, the 18 and 20 years old young men shot themselves with a shotgun, and it was revealed that they were listening to Priest’s ‘Stained Class’ album earlier that day. The two fans’ families claimed that the album contained subliminal messages that encouraged the listeners to kill themselves.

Almost five years after the tragic incident, the Judas Priest members were invited to the court and defended their music. KK Downing recalled those times and said that it interrupted their album-making process, and they didn’t know what it would bring. However, they were still able to release it and also went touring to support it.

Here is how KK Downing recalled the lawsuit:

“Even with all the success we were enjoying, by the time we’d finished touring ‘Ram It Downwe’ knew it was time to really get on and get back to the more metal, ‘Defenders Of The Faithtype’ material. ‘Painkiller’ somehow managed to go even heavier than that, though. That album is one of my favorites and I love every single song on it, but that title song really nails what we wanted to do.

We built the album day-by-day and could just tell it was going to sound amazing. We’d not completed all the material so we’d spend time writing and recording together in one room, which was pretty magical. I have fond memories of those days and working with Chris Tsangarides – rest in peace. Then one day we got this call to say we’d need to appear in court, we were accused of being responsible for the death of these two lads.

I remember thinking it was insane. Literally everything got put on hold while we went to court over it all. It was a major setback, and we just didn’t know what was going to happen, but in the end, we were able to release the album and go out on the ‘Painkiller’ tour. ‘Painkiller’ really moved Priest towards those harder bands like Megadeth, Testament, and Pantera.”

Later on, the lawsuit against Judas Priest was dismissed. The court decided that they couldn’t be responsible for the suicides despite the existence of so-called subliminal messages. There was great media attention on the trial at the time, and it was also covered in the 1991 documentary ‘Dream Deceivers: The Story Behind James Vance Vs. Judas Priest.’