In the summer of 1990, the heavy metal band Judas Priest stood trial in Nevada for so-called subliminal messages in their music that led to the deaths of two teenagers. The trial had all the trappings of a surreal freak show but Ivan Solotaroff, one of our most observant journalists (see his profiles of Charlie Barnett, Andrew Dice Clay and Lloyd Daniels) captured it vividly in this unflinching, sympathetic story for the Village Voice (September 4, 1990). It is a tour de force of reporting: 13,000 words on a two-week deadline.—Alex Belth
A note of caution: Portions of this story are graphic and disturbing.
“The Dreamer Deceiver: The Reno Trial of Judas Priest” also appears in Solotaroff’s fine collection, No Success Like Failure: The American Love of Self-Destruction, Self-Aggrandizement, and Breaking Even.