Rob Halford Confirms Death of Former Judas Priest Drummer
John Hinch, the former Judas Priest drummer who played on the band’s debut album, Rocka Rolla, has reportedly died at the age of 73.
News of Hinch’s passing was confirmed by Judas Priest singer Rob Halford. "His style was strong, direct and unique,” the legendary frontman recalled to Loudwire. “I'll be blasting Rocka Rolla today!" Halford further shared the news via his Instagram Story, posting a picture of Hinch, along with the caption “RIP.”
Hinch was born in Staffordshire, England and grew up playing in several bands in the nearby Birmingham area. He originally joined Halford in the group Hiroshima before following the vocalist to Judas Priest in 1973.
“We had a couple of rehearsals and Rob said, ‘Well, if they’ve got a tour we might as well join them just for the sake of doing the tour,” Hinch recalled in the book The Story of Judas Priest: Defenders of the Faith, admitting that the musicians didn’t initially think Judas Priest would be a long term destination.
In the band, Hinch and Halford joined forces with guitarist K.K. Downing, bassist Ian Hill and (later) second guitarist Glenn Tipton. In 1974, the group recruited Black Sabbath producer Rodger Bain and recorded their debut LP, Rocka Rolla.
While the album was a far cry from what Judas Priest would become - its sound was more blues rock and prog rock influenced than heavy metal - it gave the group its first exposure. The band toured throughout the U.K. and various parts of Europe in support of the LP. Hinch handled most of the driving, while also sorting out the band’s finances. He later recalled that wearing many hats caused him great frustration. “Drumming to me just became secondary,” Hinch admitted. “It was like, ‘Ok, here we go we’re on stage,’ and then invariably you’d get an argument just for the sake of an argument.”
Upon returning home, the band shifted its attention to a sophomore release. It was at that point that Hinch was dismissed.
“We were developing musically,” Halford explained in his autobiography Confess, “and we wanted a more adventurous drummer to complement what we were doing.”
Hinch, who had been trained in a jazz style of drumming, never really clicked musically with the rest of the band. “Rehearsals had got frustrating,” Halford recalled. "John was trying his best, but he just wasn’t doing what we wanted or, if I am honest, sounding like he ever would.”
Following his stint in Judas Priest, Hinch pursued a career in band management, working with artists such as Jameson Raid and former Scorpions guitarist Uli Jon Roth.