Les Binks (Butterfly ball, Judas Priest)

ButterflyballIrish heavy metal drummer, James Leslie Binks was born 5 April 1951 in Portadown, Northern Ireland). He started his career In 1974 After being invited to play drums on the Roger Glover album The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast. The album project began as a soundtrack for an animated film based on a well-known English children’s book, but a promo for the film never gained any interest, so the project was scrapped. Glover went on to release the soundtrack as a “Roger Glover and Friends” title. One of the featured vocalists, Eddie Hardin, later released his own albums, the first of which was 1976’s Eddie Hardin’s Wizard’s Convention, which again included Binks on drums. Binks also played for the band Fancy who had two U.S. hits in 1974 with a cover of “Wild Thing”, and “Touch Me”.

Binks was then auditioned by Judas Priest Through his Roger Glover connection, and was hired for their 1977 world tour — their first on American soil. Binks remained with the band until 1979, recording two studio albums “Stained Class”, “Killing Machine” and one live in Japan LP “Unleashed in the East.” Binks was co-credited for the song “Beyond the Realms of Death” on the album, Stained Class. According to the band’s memoirs, Binks picked up one of the guitars, turned it around (since he was left-handed), and strummed the first chords of what became the main guitar line of the song. In a 2017 interview, Binks clarified that he had made a home demo of the track, with friend Steve Mann of the Michael Schenker Group playing the solo, and at the rehearsal picked up a guitar to show them the chords in the demo. Halford then created the song’s title and lyrics.

Binks left Judas Priest amicably terms just prior to the start of the North American leg of the “Killing Machine” tour after Judas Priest decided to move away from Binks’ complicated jazz-inspired playing to a more groove-oriented sound. Binks said in a 2017 interview that he left because he was hired as a “freelance session drummer” for Judas Priest, and then-manager Mike Dolan suggested that he should “waive his fees”, i.e. not get paid for his performance, on the live “Unleashed in the East” album, a RIAA-certified platinum seller.

In 1979, Binks joined Charlie Whitney and Axis Point and remained active in the British hard rock/heavy metal underground. In 1981, he was a member of Lionheart which featured Dennis Stratton (ex-Iron Maiden) on guitar and Jess Cox (ex-Tygers Of Pan Tang) on vocals, though this was only a brief stint. Also in 1981, Binks played on the album Finardi by Italian rock singer Eugenio Finardi. Binks toured with Lionheart and Tytan soon after their first single release.

Since then, Binks has appeared in a classic rock cover band around South London called The Shakers, with Dave Bunce, guitarist Pete Friesen (formerly with Jeff Beck and with Alice Cooper), and vocalist/guitarist Tom Lundy (of The Poor Mouth). Rounding out the band was bassist Phil Rynhart, co-founder member of The Poor Mouth. Binks and Pete Friesen have also done time in Metalworks, along with ex-Iron Maiden guitarist Tony Parsons, playing covers of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and other legendary metal bands around London. Binks also had a stint with an Irish country-folk-pop trio called The Faintin’ Goats and In 2013, he joined the band Raw Glory, which also featured singer Paul Manzi (of Arena).In 2015, Binks played live around London in Broken Bones with ex-Bad II The Bone members Ed Hudson and Paul Smith, and in original prog-folk-rock band Kindred Spirit and recorded the album Phoenix Rising. During 2017 and 2018, he performed classic Judas Priest songs live with a new band called Les Binks’ Priesthood.

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