Deep Purple Keyboardist Don Airey: I Played Bass on Judas Priest’s ‘Painkiller’
Deep Purple keyboardist Don Airey managed to keep it secret that he actually played bass on Judas Priest's 1990 album, Painkiller, rather than mainstay Ian Hill, the band's longest tenured member.
Bands obscuring writing credits and having ghost members co-write songs or even play on parts of an album are nothing new and are one of the more intriguing aspects of rock and metal history.
It was no secret that Airey — who joined Deep Purple in 2002 and had previously worked with both Ozzy Osbourne and Rainbow, among other groups — had played keyboards on the Painkiller album, but, until now, it remained hidden that he also contributed bass.
In an interview with AntiHero Magazine, Airey said of his keyboard contributions, "[Judas Priest] were so worried about it they didn’t even give me a credit, I don’t think, on the album. They paid me, which is always the point. But recently, I mean this last month or so… it’s a wonderful album, Painkiller."
"And [drummer] Scott Travis has spilled the beans about it, that all the bass parts are me playing on the mini — it’s Moog bass on the whole album; that was Ian Hill’s bass mixed in as well on parts," continued Airey.
Furthermore, he offered, "But at the time Ian wasn’t very well, so he wasn’t at the sessions. So, I got made to do all the bass and they kept it. I mean, it was a funny old job. I only got to play proper keyboards on one track, I can’t remember what the track is. I just read about it yesterday that they’d actually said, I’ve never said a word about it before. I mean, it was an exciting album to do. They’re wonderful people to be around."
For Airey, his illustrious career continues as he most recently released Whoosh! with Deep Purple, which is the fifth album he's been a part of since replacing the legendary Jon Lord, who retired from live performance a decade before his death in 2012.
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