Rob Halford of Judas Priest: “Coming out? It’s incredible, the exaltation’ | Judas Priest

It was the first heavy metal record Kinks’ You Really Got Me (1964), Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf (1968)), Black Sabbath from Black Sabbath (1970)) or something else? VerulamiumParkRanger
It must be Black Sabbath. I love the Kinks and Steppenwolf but by definition they’re not really metal. In terms of riffage, I’ve always defined metal as much as possible with the bass and it’s a big meaty riff, Black Sabbath style – a West Midlands hammer! That’s what Tony (Iommi) was doing, so it’s definitely Black Sabbath for me.

What did you think of punk at the time, and is it strange that over time punk and metal have become quite interchangeable as far as their fans are concerned? johnny5eyes
It was exciting for Priest to be there when the punk movement exploded in London. I remember seeing the Sex Pistols in a club in Wolverhampton, and I thought they had a metal vibe – the attitude and some of the riffs. I welcome all that sort of thing because it’s the true essence of what rock ‘n’ roll should be. The unfortunate thing that happened in the industry was that all of a sudden all the labels and media were focused exclusively on the Sex Pistols, the Damned, the Clash. All great bands, but metal was kind of left out of the picture. For a while there was this mantra that metal was dead. You can’t crush a whole movement because something else comes along, but we needed punk in the British music scene.

How is (guitarist) Glenn Tipton and will he make an appearance on the tour? Metallizer
He is doing extraordinarily well considering he has lived with Parkinson’s disease for 15 years. He is such a strong man. It’s like any of these challenges, a lot of it depends on how you fight, and he fights all the time. I love that people still understand his importance in Judas Priest – his contribution on this new album, Invincible Shield, is as it has been on all the records. Glenn and Ozzy (Osbourne, who also has Parkinson’s) stay in touch. They’re both cut from the same cloth, with that sort of British ‘go for it’ thing. I don’t want to speak against other identities, but there is this thing about guys and dignity, an extremely powerful word in what it represents – my father was the same – and they are really strong to fight.

Halford (LEFT) and Glenn Tipton in Rosemont, Illinois, in 1984. Photograph: Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Who came up with the idea for Priest to work with Stock Aitken Waterman, and why were the results never published? Jacqueline Pearce
It was my gayness that came to the fore – I think there are certain things that come from my identity that wouldn’t exist if I were straight. And one of them was going on an adventure with Stock Aitken Waterman. I love pop – I just listened to Olly Alexander’s new Eurovision song, it’s brilliant.

That’s what I like about this group: we never say no, we always want to give it a try. We went to Paris for a few days and it was amazing to see how SAW made music. We did You Are Everything by Stylistics and a few other bangers that they made on the spot. We had a great time, but when we returned, it was not doubt that appeared, but preservation. At that point, we felt there would have been pushback if we had dropped those leads, and we didn’t want that to happen. Pete Waterman always had them hidden somewhere in his safe. It was heavy stuff, but it had those signature Stock Aitken Waterman vibes.

“I thought the Sex Pistols had a metal vibe”… Judas Priest in 1978. Photography: Chris Walter/WireImage

The world was a very different place in 1998, when you made an unprecedented decision (for a prominent heavy metal singer) to come out as gay. At that moment, did you feel particularly courageous?, whether on a personal basis or as part of a possibly terminal career development? And how have your feelings about that decision changed since then?? Non-dairyCanary
The day I made that announcement on MTV New York, it was completely spontaneous and just a pure flow of mindless banter. It wasn’t until I broke free from my fucking heavy metal prison that I realized what I had done. I had no idea it was going to go around the world like crazy – I was nowhere near Priest at the time. Any gay person who has the right moment in their life to step forward and let their identity be what it is without any mess or interference, it’s incredible, the exhilaration. First, you free yourself. Second, all the ammunition and innuendo evaporates. He’s the gay guy from Judas Priest – what can you throw at him now?

There was very little negative reaction and I was really pleased with the acceptance. Pure speculation: if I hadn’t come out at that time and then gone back to Priest, I think I might have stayed hidden, because I love this band so much and I protect them with every fiber of my be. The world is a lot better now, thank goodness, but we still have homophobia, racism and those stupid parts of humanity that drive us crazy. You really need to face it, so please get out, wherever you are! Proud and loud.

What was it like working with Dolly Parton on her rock album? heather
It was extraordinary. This woman is a legend in the truest sense of the word – when you think about the thousands of songs she sang, and she burns so bright even now. For me, singing with her side by side at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was so surreal it felt like a dream. And then, when she messaged me a few days later, asking if I would consider joining her on a song from her album Rockstar, I couldn’t believe it. A lot of people have embraced it, even in the metal world – everyone knows who Dolly Parton is.

Listen to Trial by Fire from the new album, Invincible Shield

Is it true that you once worked in a cinema specializing in erotic films? VerulamiumParkRanger
A friend of mine ran a dingy little shop in Stafford Street in Walsall, which I could now walk to in 20 minutes. All these buildings are gone, but there was a boarded up window and a barely holding door. One day he said, “I’m going on vacation, would you mind looking after me?” I was unemployed and had nothing better to do, so I did it. What was funny was the kind of people who came, because it was fascinating. Guess what they did for a living, and all the mystery. At the time, it was very restricted and, to some extent, illegal. This was before Thatcher – don’t get me started on her.

What is the most metal place in the Black Country? Geofffrombykergrove
My home town, Walsall, is very heavy metal. When I walk around town, it’s a difficult place. They are hardworking, loving people, very determined and quite direct in their concrete responses. I like Walsall for that, but there’s Bilston, Tipton, Wednesbury, West Bromwich, Wolverhampton, Willenhall. It’s a whole kaleidoscope – you can’t really pin it down.

Did you expect British steel to actually become an essential album in the pantheon of British rock? Part timeReader49
You never expect these things because they are out of your control. That’s what I love about music. When a band makes music, it’s initially for the good times of creating songs, creating records, but without your fans you can’t go anywhere.

British Steel was quite remarkable – it was a simple, stripped-down record. Many songs were written in a house that belonged to John Lennon. It’s very direct, almost as if the band were playing live in the living room – and that was thanks to the prowess of Tom (Allom, producer). But the songs themselves – Living After Midnight, Breaking the Law, The Rage, Rapid Fire, Metal Gods – have collectively become an integral part of heavy metal music, and you have no idea what’s going to happen.

“Priest completes me as a musician”… Halford on stage in Cedar Park, Texas, in 2022. Photograph: Gary Miller/Getty Images

Rockin’ Rob, out of all the songs you’ve written, which one do you like the most? Why this one? Fire Eaters
It’s Victim of Changes from the Sad Wings of Destiny album – it has all the elements. The way the dual guitars come in – because we were the first dual guitar heavy metal band – the bludgeoning riff, the soaring vocals, the unusual arrangement, the figure eight middle part where it gets very quiet , then it’s a dazzling Glenn Tipton. a break lead, full of blues and metal, and then it ends with a bang and a scream. It’s a beautiful song and if there’s a metal song you could listen to to get the vibe and feel of the genre, I always suggest Victim of Changes.

My dear wife tells me that I should wear my heavy metal t-shirts more often, but I like to save them for special occasions, to prevent them from wearing out too quickly. Who is right in this case? FrogmellaMouse Trap
I may be gay, but the woman is always right! I just tried some new Priest products when I was in rehearsal the other day and it’s great, but at the time they looked like medieval potato sacks with Judas Priest shields painted on them – they were absolutely horrible and as soon as you washed them they would shrink. about three sizes and the print would start to peel off.

If you were 21 years old now, what current metal band would you want to join? Lawlessand23
At the moment there are a few British bands I like: Malevolence from Sheffield and Svalbard. Code Orange, Behemoth, Ghost. Are Ghosts metal? I will discuss it with my friend Tobias (Forge). They’re relatively new to this septuagenarian metalhead but it’s the same attitude.

Is it frustrating that, given your legacy with Judas Priest, people tend to overlook your fantastic solo and side projects? Richey1977
No, because Priest completes me as a musician. That’s all I ever wanted in life, to be in this band; I’ve been here 50 years and I get everything I need and love from Judas Priest. Solo adventures are important and valuable to me and everyone – people go off and have fun elsewhere. Like I did, you’re able to figure out the most important part of who you are as a musician, and Priest is that for me.

Judas Priest’s Invincible Shield album releases March 8 on Epic

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