Original JUDAS PRIEST singer Al Atkins says that he “couldn’t believe what happened” to former PRIEST drummer Dave Holland.

Holland died in January 2018 in Lugo, Spain, where the 69-year-old had reportedly been residing after spending several years in a British jail for attempting to rape a teenage boy. The drummer was sentenced in January 2004 of trying to assault the 17-year-old in his cottage in Northamptonshire, England, while giving him drumming lessons. The abuse was revealed in a letter written by the teenager to his parents. Holland always denied any involvement in the attempted rape of the special-needs student and was at one point said to be planning to write a tell-all biography of his life and career.

Speaking to Bathory metal digital magazine, Atkins said: “To be honest, I couldn’t believe what happened to Dave. We go back a long way back to his time in TRAPEZE. My album with him on drums [1998’s ‘Victim Of Changes’] was selling really well, and so we decided to stick together and had big plans for more recordings. Dave had an offer from a large record company to record an album with all top musicians he had played and recorded with over the years, like Glenn Hughes and Rob Halford, and he asked me to be on it too, so I was well up for that. We also had another deal offered us to work together again and we met with various people in London.”

He continued: “He rang me one morning to say if the press gets on to me say no comment and put the phone down on them. I asked him what was happening, and he told me someone was trying to get money from him by making false accusations about him. I never saw him again and lost contact. I heard he was going to write a book about his life in JUDAS PRIEST while banged up in jail, and he later moved to Northern Spain on his release but sadly died of cancer.”

According to the El Progreso newspaper, Dave lived discreetly in a secluded part of Spain and was described by the neighbors who knew him as “very kind and polite.”

Dave joined PRIEST in 1979 and stayed in the band for a decade, playing on such classic albums as “British Steel” (1980), “Point Of Entry” (1981), “Screaming For Vengeance” (1982), “Defenders Of The Faith” (1984), “Turbo” (1986) and “Ram It Down” (1988). He exited the band in 1989 and was replaced by Scott Travis. Holland was also a founding member of TRAPEZE alongside Hughes and Mel Galley, his bandmates from a previous group named FINDERS KEEPERS.

Atkins formed JUDAS PRIEST in 1969 in Birmingham, England, naming it after the Bob Dylan tune “The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest”. In 1973, Atkins stepped out to land a “real job” to support his family and the band moved forward with Halford.

Atkins is the co-writer of several PRIEST songs which are included on the band’s first two albums, “Rocka Rolla” and “Sad Wings Of Destiny”, both of which eventually went gold. Atkins co-penned the heavy metal classic “Victim Of Changes”, which was a combination of Halford‘s song “Red Light Lady” and Atkins‘s own “Whiskey Woman”. He also co-wrote “Winter”, “Never Satisfied”, “Dreamer Deceiver” and “Caviar And Meths”.