Dream Deceivers: The Story Behind James Vance Vs. Judas Priest


In the summer of 1990, the band was involved in a civil action that alleged they were responsible for the self-inflicted gunshot wounds in 1985 of 20-year-old James Vance and 18-year-old Raymond Belknap in Sparks, Nevada, USA. On 23 December 1985, Vance and Belknap, after hours of drinking beer, smoking marijuana and allegedly listening to Judas Priest music, went to a playground at a church in Sparks with a 12-gauge shotgun to end their lives. Belknap was the first to place the shotgun under his chin. He died instantly after pulling the trigger. Vance was the next to follow suit but only blew away the lower half of his face. This was possibly because the weapon was slippery with blood.

The men's parents and their legal team alleged that a subliminal message of "do it" had been included in the Judas Priest song "Better By You, Better Than Me" from the Stained Class album (actually a cover of a Spooky Tooth number). They alleged the command in the song triggered the suicide attempt. The trial lasted from 16 July to 24 August 1990, when the suit was dismissed.