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Adolescents who liked heavy metal music were compared to those who did not on a variety of outcome variables, particularly focusing on reckless behavior. Boys who liked heavy metal music reported a higher rate of a wide range of reckless behavior, including driving behavior, sexual behavior, and drug use.


They were incredulous as they heard Mr. Owens's voice alternately growl and soar and watched him prowl the stage, his black leather and close-cropped hair remarkably similar to that of their former front man.

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Through the early 's, the same musical tide that prompted Mr. Owens to abandon heavy metal for alternative rock had also relegated his longtime heroes to the discount bins in music stores. Yet unlike his friends, Tim Owens also loved music of the Renaissance, and his supple tenor was at the heart of the prize-winning member madrigal choir at Kenmore High.

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Travis, who was at the club, was sufficiently impressed with the band to go on stage and in on ''Metal Gods,'' a Judas Priest song. We said to each other, 'What about him? He said they weren't looking for a Rob clone. Then came a cascade of phone calls, first from the band to Ms. Vitto to find out if the tape was doctored ''I said, 'Tim's for real,' '' she told themthen from Ms.

Vitto to Mr. Owens, who was instructed to call Ms. He had Judas Priest tattoos, but high enough on his arms that they were hidden by the sleeves of golfing shirts. The group and its manager have been grooming Mr. Owens for his new role, trying to mold an image that minimizes the past. His brother, Troy Jr. The teen-age Tim Owens, like most of his friends, was drawn to hard rock, but he was musically omnivorous.

Even when the band changed its name to Brainicide and shifted its musical metalhead dating Virginia somewhat, Mr. Owens and his friends continued to play what had become a ature song, Judas Priest's ''Victim of Changes. The key was a metalhead dating Virginia, jerky videotape of Mr. The tape had been made by a pair of Judas Priest fans, Christa Lentine, a tanning-parlor attendant from Churchville, N.

After the show, the women told Mr. Owens they knew members of Judas Priest. Owens is now 29 years old, and the walls of his den are still covered with photographs of Judas Priest. Owens left the law firm and took a part-time sales job, which meshed better with his music. In an extraordinarily improbable variant of the all-American success story -- a hybrid of Horatio Alger's rewarded hard work and Walter Mitty's fulfilled fantasy -- Mr.

Owens has risen from devotee to icon, from metal-head to metal-god.

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In a chrome-and-leather universe, one in which metal-he dress and coif to ape their heroes, one of their own has magically ascended into the heavens. All along, he harbored a dream that he might someday get to meet the real Judas Priest. People would look up and say, 'Hey, isn't that the same guy?

Inhowever, the other band members decided to try to re-form and find a new front man. Nonetheless, over in Wales, where the band was preparing for the tryouts, Mr. Travis and his band mates decided to watch the video.

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But Judas Priest was always the heart of the group's repertory. He did well in his double life, making enough money to buy a used Jaguar sedan. The fixated young fan celebrated his 18th birthday with a cake iced with an image of the horned monster from the cover of the next Judas Priest album. That way he wouldn't raise eyebrows when he played with friends from work at a local country club. The result of the encounter was Dammage Inc, a band that developed a loyal local following as it played songs by Judas Priest, Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax.

Owens, who still has a Charlie Brown youthfulness in his round face and lives in a neat little frame house next door to his parents in a blue-collar Akron neighborhood surrounded by crumbling factories, junkyards and tattoo parlors. I was a huge Elvis fan.

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Owens said. Owens left and replaced his first role model, Mr. Williams, in U. The next year, while still playing in U. Metal, he also became the vocalist for Winters Bane, a band writing original songs in an almost operatic heavy metal style. InMr. Owens followed the musical tide and ed Seattle, a cover band doing alternative rock. Married and the father of a little girl he later divorced and now declines to talk about his familyMr.

InWinters Bane recorded an album for a German label, Massacre Records, that sold about 8, copies abroad but was never released in the United States. But inBrainicide headed into uncharted territory that metalhead dating Virginia local fan described as ''death metal meets psychotic metal. One night he was noticed by Dan Johnson and Steve Trent, two young musicians who were looking for a singer for a new band. To help raise its profile, the group worked out an effective touring technique in which it booked profitable shows under the name British Steel -- a Judas Priest tribute band -- then opened under its own name.

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For Mr. Owens, that was a pinnacle of sorts. In Februaryas Mr. Travis was packing to go to England for a final round of auditions, Ms. Lentine stuck the old tape of Mr. Owens in one of the drummer's bags. His parents shared his musical eclecticism, enjoying the heavy metal sound as much as they enjoyed the Rolling Stones and Dion.

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It is as if a sandlot baseball player not only got a chance to play in the majors but got to be Cal Ripken Jr. A young man whose life for a decade revolved around a particular persona had been given to assume that identity. Then, through a remarkable series of chance events, Mr. Owens's vocal abilities and ferocious stage manner came to the attention of his idols.

Comparisons to Mr. Halford are discouraged.

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Unaware that bigger things were to come, Mr. Owens stuck to his routine, selling office products by day and singing by night. The local mosh pit crowds loved it, and the band attracted a loyal following. The name Tim is becoming only a memory. His father, Troy, works in a jewelry warehouse. I'd sing 45 minutes of Winters Bane originals, then put on the leather and do two hours of Priest.

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Adding to the remarkable nature of Mr. Owens's career move is the fact that he came to the attention of Judas Priest not because he sought the band out but by dint of a grainy, homemade videotape of one of his performances, made without his knowledge by two Judas Priest fans.

From that moment, the portly, baby-faced teen-ager from Akron, Ohio, was smitten. As Mr. Owens sang along with the show on stage, he essentially began his Judas Priest tutorial by mimicking a mimic. Owens recalled. In fact, Ms. Lentine was dating Mr. Travis, the band's drummer.

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Still, his first love was Judas Priest. He is about to be transformed from a hard-working singer in a cover band and a suit-wearing traveling salesman of office supplies into Ripper Owens, the new lead vocalist for the band he once worshiped. His mother runs a baby-sitting service in her living room. But this time, he is in them. Soon afterward, exploiting the soaring tenor voice he trained in his high school's madrigal choir, Tim Owens donned studded bracelets and a leather vest and began singing in a string of Judas Priest tribute and cover bands, mimicking every nuance of Judas Priest's vocalist, Rob Halford, from his haunting howls to his habit of closing some shows by riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle on stage.

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Johnson said. They listened to hundreds of tapes and auditions of talented singers, but no one was quite right. Every time, he would stagger around the stage and nearly fall down, deprived of oxygen. On weekend nights, Mr. Owens would stand at the front of the pit at the Akron Agora, a heavy metal club, singing along on every lyric as U. Metal, a popular local cover band, bashed its way through Priest classics like ''Victim of Changes. Like any Horatio Alger tale, the saga of Ripper Owens began with working-class roots, in Kenmore, a close-knit Akron neighborhood of cozy, neatly tended houses in the decaying heart of the post-industrial American Midwest.

But Judas Priest fans are already fascinated.

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The next year, after having sold 15 million albums sincethe band essentially dissolved when Mr. Halford quit to pursue other musical projects. And although long-lived rock bands often go through changes in membership over the years -- with Judas Priest itself having had more than half a dozen drummers in its year existence -- rock aficionados are hard put to cite any other instance in which a musician from a tribute band moved up to the real thing, and certainly not as lead vocalist.

But metal was fading and grunge was ascendant. So are stories of birthday cakes, madrigals and mothers.

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