Valen was a touring electronic drummer for the legendary heavy
metal rock band Judas Priest on the Fuel for Life Tour from
1985 - 1987.
This record was recorded at The Rosemont Auditorium in Chicago.
Jonathan is highlighted with the field drum solo in The Sentenel.
|Letter From Jeff Pilson
|Letter From Doane Perry (Jethro Tull)
I want to pass along my thoughts to you regarding Jonathan Valen and his
association with Judas Priest. First, let me state that I have had the good fortune to know Jonathan Valen as a professional colleague and as a friend for over seventeen years. I have tremendous respect for his abilities as a musician, producer and engineer. In addition to those attributes he is a very accomplished technician in the area of computer programming, electronic drums and digital recording, being among other things, one of California's most well regarded and respected Pro Tools experts.
Jonathan has also gained considerable and deserved recognition as a highly sought after drummer by some of the world's top artists in the pop, rock and crossover fields and he has a reputation for excellence and integrity. Being a working musician myself, I never saw the ďTurbo Ė Fuel for LifeĒ tour as I was touring at the same time with Jethro Tull. However, we had spoken on many occasions about his time working with Judas Priest and I know that despite the fact that he did not get the official recognition for his service, for understandable public relations reasons, he was justifiably proud of his work and association with such a unique and prominent group.
There is a critical element in this entire controversy to which I would like to offer some professional perspective. In the 1980ís there was an explosion of technology that opened up new sonic possibilities for all instrumentalists, particularly drummers and percussionists. Electronic drum kits and drum machines offered drummers far more control over their studio and live sound than ever before. Unfortunately, the midi and triggering technology of the day was still very inconsistent when it came to triggering drums in a live environment. It was possible to trigger other sounds from acoustic drums through a series of interfaces but even with the best technology of the day available, it could be far from reliable. I know from first hand experience, as I often wrestled with the ďstate of the artĒ technology, trying get my acoustic drum kit to reliably trigger sounds from my electronic drum kit. Very often, we simply had to put some of the electronic drum and percussion parts on tape, so that I could play along in real time with them. Jethro Tull has been a five piece band for most of its history and we did not feel we needed to bring along a sixth member just to play these additional parts. So, we did what so many artists at that time did; we put the auxiliary parts and sound effects on tape and used them in real time along with the bandís live performance. This was far from being an uncommon practice and audiences didnít mind that at all, as long as you were actually up there playing the rest of the music. Often this was a function of the basic economics of touring but if one could afford it, then you might be able to bring along auxiliary musicians or vocalists on tour to help recreate the sound of the records.
Judas Priest was fortunate enough to be able to hire a knowledgeable individual such as Jonathan to perform that auxiliary musicianís function. As I understand, Jonathan was never hired in any capacity to replace Dave Holland, but simply to augment Daveís parts with the electronic drum kit. They simply chose to have Jonathan playing onstage behind a scrim where he was not visible to the audience but where he could still see, hear and feel the band. Again, this was not an uncommon practice. Many, many big name bands and artists have auxiliary musicians playing live with them but who are relatively invisible to the audience. And there are also many artists and bands that make no secret of the fact that they are using additional musicians. Either way, it rarely is ever an issue for either the audience or the artists. Consequently, I am puzzled as to why Judas Priest feel they have to deny the nature of Jonathanís involvement with their live show. I cannot imagine that the knowledge of Jonathanís presence would somehow undermine their well-earned international stature or even that their audience would mind. They are still watching THE band that they paid to see. Furthermore, the fans would probably appreciate the fact that the band cares enough about how they present themselves in a live setting to really try to make the show as professional and powerful as they possibly can.
I can provide a brief illustration of that point. In 2005, when we were planning the Jethro Tull USA tour, we decided that we wished to bring a young violinist named Lucia Micarelli out on the road with us. This allowed a broader range of Tull material that we could play and provided a considerable sonic addition that gave us a new performing freedom. Instead of placing Lucia in the back or off to the side, we put her right up in the front line. The audience accepted her immediately and often gave her a standing ovation for her solo spot in the show. Even though the fans knew she wasnít joining the band, other than for that tour, they accepted her as if she had. There are countless other examples in the music world similar to that and I think Judas Priest are underestimating the intelligence and acceptance of their audience if they believe this could affect their considerable reputation. Relax, itís only music.
For Life Tour With Judas Priest
is accurate information that I am about to share for the
first time since those Turbo Tour days on the Fuel For
Life Tour, itís just time for me to come forward
with the truth
About my experience with the legendary rock band Judas
First of all, let me go on record saying that I deeply
respect and appreciate all that Judas Priest had done
for me. By taking me under their wing and giving me the
opportunity of a lifetime. Going on the Fuel For Life
tour (Turbo Tour) and spending time with them, they are
some of the most cherished moments of my musical carrier
and I must say Thank You so very much. I canít
help but think that if the article written for Kerrang
magazine, had not put the spotlight on what was going
on behind the curtain and people would not have been talking
so much about it, maybe this huge secret could have been
kept for an other twenty years. But timing is everything,
the reason you will know that this story is true is because
how could I make up such a fantastic tail without some
one going after me legally. It would just be Impossible
to make up such a story. And there were too many witnesses.
The reason I am coming forward with this information is
because my reputation is being questioned for something
that I have every right to be proud of, playing for one
of the greatest rock n roll bands in the world.
I played for the better half of a year on the TURBO tour
the entire American and Canadian leg about One hundred
twenty shows for them, as an electronic drummer.
My equipment was E-mu SP-12 that was connected via Midi
to a Roland octapad and two electric drum pedals, called
shark pedals, the octapad was an device with eight touch
sensitive pads that had to be played with drum sticks
and since I was a drummer so they hired me. We also used
prophet 5 vs sampler that we triggered background vocals
on, like Rock you all around the world and certain guitar
effects for Kenny. Many sound effects had to be played
simply because at the time there were no such things as
a sequencer, the technology was primitive at best I think
the maximum sample time for the profit 5 vs was sixteen
seconds and that was the expanded model, just enough time
to get one part done right before you would half to change
the disk to load an other sample play it and then do it
again. My duties also included playing many drum parts
double bass drum vocal and solos. The article written
in KERRANG magazine in July of 1986 was one hundred percent
accurate, the only part of the article that was upsetting
to me, was the way Dave Holland was portrayed, in no way
was I taking the place of David, I was simply embellishing
some of daves parts, and adding some of my own that Dave
and I worked out during our week in New Mexico before
the tour started. I would like to thank Dave for letting
me take the marching snare drum solo in The Sentinel.
Which appears on the live record even though I received
no credit or recognition on the record. Dave is an awesome
and well-respected drummer and I admire him very much
we always had a good relationship. One time Nikko McBrain
of ( IRON MADEN ) came out to see the show he could not
figure how Dave Holland was playing those parts, so he
started wondering around till he found me sitting off
to the right of Dave, behind a black curtain. I could
see everyone in the arenas, they, however, could not see
me. From that day on Nikko and I have been good friends.
And Rob Halford, who I think is one of the greatest singers
on the planet, not only for his vocal abilities but his
performances are unbelievable and watching him perform
every night commanding the audiences night after night
to do pretty much anything he wanted. You could only imagine
that for some young guy playing drums in Hollywood, and
getting the opportunity to play with this band was a dream
come true. Rob Halford used to make funny gestures at
me during the concerts and would laugh at the double bass
drum parts knowing the no human could move their feet
that fast. Of course none of the audience would see this
only a few chosen people who were privy to the antics
going on. KK every night before we went on would shake
my hand and say have a good show, what an awesome experience.
However with all the good memories Iím finding
myself more than ever with the internet defending myself
about my participation questioning whether it was true
or not, I have mountains of proof that I played for the
band I have tapes that came from Gordon Patterson (Gungi)
from the board mix where you can distinctly here the difference
between my drums and Daveís. He would give the
tapes to me after shows to listen to, some of them have
mistakes on them to show that itís a person playing
and not some drum machines as claimed. I also have many
eyewitnesses who where there; who have now sent me e-mails
to back up my story, there are too many people willing
to come forward with the truth,
These are the shows and states I played 1986
Albuquerque NM. Tingley Coliseum, Denver Co. McNichols
Coliseum, Salt lake city Salt Palace, Phoenix AZ. Compton
Terrace, Laguna Hills CA. Irvine Meadows, San Diego Ca.
Sports Arena, Los Angeles Ca. LA Sports Arena Two Dates,
Fresno Ca. Selland Arena, Oakland Ca. Oakland Coliseum,
Sacramento Ca. Cal Expo, Tacoma Wa. Tacoma Dome, Spokane
Wa. Spokane Coliseum, Kansas City Mo. Kiel Auditorium,
Chicago Il. Rosemont, St.Paul Mn. Civic Center, Kalamazoo
Mi. Wing Stadium, Detroit Mi. Cobo Hall, Dayton Oh. Hara
Arena, Cleveland OH. Richfield Coliseum, Largo MD. Capitol
Center, Philadelphia PA. Spectrum, New York NY. Meadowlands
three dates, Providence RI. Civic Center, Worcester MA.
Centrum, E. Rutherfrod NJ. Brendon Byrne, New Haven CT.
New Haven Coliseum, Hempstead. LI. Nassau Coliseum, Rochester
NY. War Memorial, Hampton VA. Hampton Coliseum, Richmond
VA. Richmond Coliseum, Charlotte NC. Coliseum, Atlanta
GA. Omni, Lakeland FL. Civic Center, Miami FL. Sportatorium,
Houston TX Summit, Austin TX. Frank Irwin Center, San
Antonio TX. Arena, El Paso TX County Coliseum, Odessa
TX Ector County, Dallas TX. Reunion, Norman OK. Lloyd
Noble Arena, Vancouver BC. Coliseum, Calgary AL. Saddle
Dome, Edmonton AL. Coliseum, Winnipeg MAN. Winnipeg Arena,
Montreal QUE Montreal Forum, Quebec City Coliseum, Ottawa
ONT. Civic Center, Buffalo NY. Memorial Auditorium, Troy
NY. R.P.I., Portland ME. Cumberland Civic Arena, Toledo
OH. Sports Arena, Pittsburgh PA. Civic Arena, Cincinnati
OH. Cin Gardens, Saginaw MI. Civic Arena, Detroit MI.
Joe Louis Arena, Hoffman Estes, IL. Popular Creek, Indianapolis
IN. Market Sq, Arena, Green Bay WI. Green Bay Arena, E.
Troy WI. Alpine Valley, Cedar Rapids IA. 5 Seasons Arena,
Peoria IL. Peoria Civic, Wichita KS. Kansas Coliseum,
Louisville Gardens, Nashville TN. Starwood Amp, Biloxi
MS. Miss Coast Coliseum, Baltimore MD. Civic Arena, Springfield
MA. Civic Center, New York NY. Medowlands, Toronto ONT.
My last show with Judas Priest was at the CNE stadium
in Toronto Canada. The picture of us sitting together
was the last time I saw them.
Halford, Glen Tipton, Kenny Downing, Eon Hill, and Dave
Holland for one of the most awesome experiences of my
musical carrier, I have a lifetime of wealth, memories
and happiness that I can add to my life from the knowledge
Iíve gained during those times. I deeply respect
you guys and wish you great health and happiness with
continued success in the future.
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