2021 – The Judas Priest Riot show – June 18, 1984

                                   (ignore April 30, 2017 publish date – this was published on June 18, 2021)


Thirty-seven years ago tonight, something happened that I seem to be a bit known for in certain circles and even got mentioned/quoted about it recently in a YouTube video that was posted on June 4, 2021. It was about an insane (but fun) show I shot that I call “The Judas Priest Riot Show”.

Six years ago, a story about the event came out in Ultimate Classic Rock magazine, which you can read here: https://ultimateclassicrock.com/judas-priest-madison-square-garden-ban/

In that article, they link to my site’s photos of Judas Priest that includes that night in this sentence: “Photographer Bob Leafe was at the show and hired by the venue to take pictures of the damage, which you can see here”. In the article, click on “see here”.

Pictures 7-9 are from that night. You can see what I originally wrote, what I wrote 4 years ago, what I wrote this month………..oh yeah – and an email I sent 6 years ago.

And since the new video isn’t clickable on my site (and who wants to bother copying-and-pasting it?), click here instead: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kr-jOT_0mP8

One of my shots that’s in the video is extremely weird and out of focus because it was taken from my site and is only 300 pixels on the long side. You can’t take a file that small and expect it to look good when blown up to video size. If you saw that in the video and thought “What a crappy photographer that Leafe guy is!”, maybe you’ll like this better (there are at least 5 seat cushions flying through the air in this shot):

As I mentioned in my site article, I found one particular video comment from someone named Bob Schneider to be interesting:

I was at that show. I barely remember that stupid DJ, and his version of events was 100% false. He did announce the upcoming Garden shows (first on that list was the Joe Jackson show that took place the following week, for which MSG was barely able to replace the seats). But everything else he said was false. Instead, the real version of events was the 2nd one you detailed.

That would be my version.

Just found another supportive comment:

“I was there. Stone is full of shit it wasn’t fireworks . They pulled the cushions out of the chairs. I did. Halford said it was the 1st heavy metal trampoline because there were so many cushions and the show didn’t end early because I seen the same show a few days before I will tell Stone to his face he is full of shit . All they did was boo when he announced the acts. What a liar.”


I emailed Perry Stone 6 years ago when the article came out to express my unhappiness with his BS:

Dear Mr. Stone,

Just found your story about Judas Priest and you at Madison Square Garden in 1984 – what an absolutely incredible pile of CRAP!

Assuming you were really there, no firecrackers, M-80s, cherry bombs, or beer bottles were thrown at you. No chairs started flying around as a result of anything you may or may not have said on stage. And the show was definitely not cancelled! I will concede, however, that the crowd probably did boo you when you introduced yourself. Maybe they had a premonition about this “story” of yours.

How do I know all this?

I was in the pit and photographed both opening act Great White and the full Judas Priest show that night.

If anything like what you describe was thrown before Priest went on, I would have gotten hit with it because not everyone’s aim or arm strength lets them reach the stage. Trust me – the photographers would not have stayed in the pit if we were in the path of flying glass bottles and explosives. We would have raised a huge stink about it just as soon as we got out of the hospital if that had actually happened – something the survivors still would be talking about today.

The only things thrown in the direction of the stage were soft foam seat cushions towards the end of Priest’s set. I documented the whole thing on my site in words and pictures.

Being promoter John Scher’s house photographer that night, I also documented the damage caused by the crowd for insurance purposes after the show. THAT’S what got Priest banned from the Garden.

Since nothing was thrown at you, I’d like to see documentation that proves you were banned from the Garden for life for announcing wussy acts.

Oh yeah………………….unless there’s a vehicle that sells all-beef patties and doubles as a prison taxi, there’s no such thing as a police “patty wagon”.

It’s “paddy”.

And you should be paddy-whacked for this steaming load.

All the best,

Bob Leafe



Guess who never bothered to reply……..and UCR takes the word of this asshat over a defender of the faith?



The way I originally found out about the Ultimate Classic Rock article and the video is somewhat unusual: through my site’s statistics.

I don’t get the names of anyone who visits my site, but I usually can get a country and city of origin, the number of pages viewed and the hits (which, in this case, usually corresponds with the number of pictures viewed).

Around this time 6 years ago, I started getting a very high number of 1-16s (pages – hits) in my stats. This has happened every year since for a few days before, on, and after June 18. I don’t recall how I connected them to UCR – it may have been when I clicked on UCR’s link after I had noted what my overall stats totaled and noted that the total increased by 1-16, but it has occurred without fail every year………..and from all over the world (UCR’s reach is almost as huge as metal’s is).

But this year, I started getting a lot of 1-16 listings earlier than usual, so I googled “bob leafe” and “judas priest” – with the quotes – and came across the new video, which – as I write this – already has almost 38,000 views. It was posted on June 4, 2021.

Today, June 18, 2021, I’ll probably get a whole shirtload of 1-16s.

Hopefully, some of you will add to it.


Since you already saw my Priest shots on my site, I’m adding this one that no one’s ever seen before:


When the show ended, people filed out. You can see from my view from the pit that a couple of folding chairs were damaged. There’s a cop standing 5 or 6 rows from the stage, but he’s just observing people leaving and there are no fights going on (but people ARE still throwing seat cushions around…………..like I said, it was FUN):


After the show, promoter John Scher hired me on the spot to take pictures of the damage for insurance purposes. In this shot, you can see some seat damage near my position, but what I find interesting is that all the cushions on the stage were swept into the pit and the wall that separated the pit from the audience was then taken down, showing the huge number of cushions that accumulated in the pit and onstage. I’m not sure, but it also appears that someone onstage is throwing a cushion (in the air on the right):


Then it was time to head upstairs to check out the damage there. In this section, it looks like every seat was slashed. You don’t see any cushions, so they were all thrown down toward the orchestra seats by the seat-slashers:


So, I had fun shooting the show. It was HILARIOUS in the pit trying to shoot everything that was going on……….and then I couldn’t find my camera bag (buried by cushions) AND I got paid to shoot the aftermath.

…………and then it was on to the party, where I shot some way-too-serious guys from Anthrax and Raven and then Kenny with two babes I used to see at most shows (just don’t ask me their names):


Ain’t rock and roll a blast? And to think I could have still been working in a chem lab inhaling dangerous chemicals.

Not much fun there.




  1. Paulie Christine June 19, 2021

    I was also a witness to this show.

    Being a huge Judas Priest fan, I went to every local show they played. It being Madison Square Garden – the Mecca of all arenas – that was a must-see show.

    I do remember hearing fireworks going off.

    But the sea of floating chair cushions was an unbelievable sight that will be forever etched into my memory.

    It started out with a few in the air and then began to multiply, where the entire arena had cushions floating in the air, landing on the stage while Priest continued to play. I wish I had a camera to also mark the historic event that night, which was TRUE HEAVY METAL!!🤘🤘🤘

  2. Steve December 9, 2023

    As soon as we found our seats in the blues way up top we went over the wall and wound up directly across from the stage on the lowest ring of seats. When the show started there were indeed fireworks raining down from our vacated section. It didnt last long but it was enough to keep an eye on the stage and the other watching our backs. Show was Great!! And a chant of “no seats for Billy Joel” who’s shows were advertised in lights.
    I guess the experience from the pits different then the far side of the venue.

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