The British trio had written a series of top U.K. hits, including Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)”, Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” and Kylie Minogue’s “I Should Be So Lucky” Priest talked Priest into covering the Stylistics’ “You Are Everything” and two originals, “I Will Return” and “Runaround” but Halford remains satisfied with the results in the book positing
The impact Rob Halford and his band Judas Priest have on heavy metal is a remarkable one. His black leather clothes gave the genre its trademark look, his pitch perfect vocals gave it a little drama and his penchant for riding motorcycles on stage gave it some larger-than-life flair. When Halford came out in 1998 as gay, the self-proclaimed metal god expanded his role-model status to appeal to metalheads seeking to leave the closet.
The singer has now re-enacted the highs and lows of his life story in his new memoir Confess. He recalls several occasions where he would sing songs like “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight” to 10s of thousands of screaming “headbanging metal maniacs” only to struggle backstage denying his true self by hiding his sexuality. His language is vivid and personal — often escalating into a working-class British dialect that he calls “yam yam” — and his story is compelling. As he tells the story of Judas Priest — who made a noticeable impact on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 greatest metal albums and landed with British Steel the number three spot — he weaves in any number of humorous, heartbreaking and interesting tales about the obstacles he faced and the many famous people he has met along the way. This is one of 20 things we learned from Confess.
Find the book here.
1. At the time of 1977’s Sin After Sin, though Judas Priest had already released two albums — including ’76’s Sad Wings of Destiny which contained Halford’s vocal showpiece “ Victim of Changes ” — the singer felt he could have done better. So he consulted his Roget thesaurus for Sin and settled on many of the lyrical themes that would define Priests music. « I was pleased with my writings on Sin After Sin », he wrote, as I was advancing my natural style of tackle of psychological and philosophical traumas, apocalyptic tales of gods, devils and warriors fighting epic battles in which good and heavy metal are! — never conquers evil.”
2. In 1977, straight rock fans took the tune lyrics for granted about racy leather guys… wincing with the denim dudes” and a reference to the popular gay New York getaway of Fire Island. “I thought it was completely explicit and obvious, a bald statement of my sexual need for ‘large bodies drowsing, stealing, eager for some action,’” he wrote. But nobody noticed until 1981, when a fan asked him to sign a copy of Sin After Sin and asked: “Is that song Rash Deal on this record about gay guys? He ended up started a relationship with the fan.
3. Rob Halford accepted Judas Priest ’s black leather look even though he wasn’t exactly into what it stood for. The singer credits former Priest guitarist K.K. Downing wore the idea of the band insertion in black leather in 1978. But while the look fit into the homosexual culture Halford so desired to join, leather was not his bag. “I had no interest in S M, Dominance or the whole queer subcult of Leather and Chains”, wrote he. My sexual preference was for men, I was – and still am – pretty vanilla.
4. In the Seventies he got away with things on stage that nobody would dare again attempt.In addition to flashing a bullwhip on stage (inviting his management to sell the merchandise titled “I’ve Been Whipped by Rob Halford”), he went on to firing a machine gun filled with blanks at the audience during “Genocide”.
5. He loved hanging around Gene Simmons, but not because he was a Kiss fan. When Kiss requested special Judas Priest to open for them in the late Seventies, Halford could’ve kept his eyes off Gene Simmons’ girlfriend. The fact that Gene dated Cher is a very big deal for gay guys, was exhilarating, he recalled. “I kept concocting pathetic excuses to hang near her just so that I could say: Hi! ”
6. He once handcuffed himself to Andy Warhol. In the late seventies at a record company party at the Mudd Club in New York City, Halford noticed a “smaller, older guy with peroxide white hair” photographing him. He quickly recognized Warhol and greeted him. Small talk went nowhere — Warhol simply said to Halford that he was : “Oh, really! ” So the singer removed the handcuffs he had hanging from his hand-lettered belt. He attaches one to Warhol and one to him and tells the artist he has lost the key. Warhol yelled “Oh, really? He laughed, the belts unstitched and they went to Studio 54, where Warhol disappeared in the crowds.
7. Angus Young is a light drinker when Judas Priest opened for AC/DC on a 1979 tour, Priest’s penchant for leaving venues before they had been played Angus Young thought that Halford and Co. didn’t like them so he invited the band to their bus to play. Halford was surprised to discover that Young hardly drank. “It’s because if I have one drink, I’m off my tits,” explained the guitarist. “I didn’t know if he was joking, but then I witnessed it one night and saw that he wasn’t,” wrote Halford. He literally had a glass of champagne and was utterly legless in a matter of seconds. He changed before my eyes.”
XVII. 8. John Lennon and Yoko Ono had matching lovers’ toilet seats. Judas Priest worked on their breakthrough album British Steel at the former Beatle’s estate at Tittenhurst Park. Lennon’s Imagine films feature in this fact. By then, Ringo Starr owned the place, but it was still full of relics from the Lennon era, including two toilets that were side by side with name plates that read “John” and “Yoko.” “I tried to imagine them sitting side by side, holding hands, having a poo,” wrote Halford. “To sometimes love seems to have no boundaries.”
9. “Living After Midnight” began with a complaint. One night Halford tried to get some eye relief when the piercing sound of Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton’s guitar broke him from his sleep at 4 a.m. They stopped in the shade, and Tipton said, “That is a great title for a song!” They wrote what would become one of Priest’s signature numbers the next day.
10. By the dawn of thatcherism, Halford is encouraged to write Priest’s biggest hit. He saw the auto industry collapse in the Midlands, the area of England where he had grown up, the unemployment had increased and factories closed. In writing the law ”, I tried to put myself in the mind of a lone teenager at his end,” wrote Halford. A lot of disenfranchisement and anger and anarchy had surround me, and I wanted to document and reflect it.
11. When Maiden opened for Priest in 1980, Halford drunkenly went around with singer Paul Di’Anno and the liquid confidence almost led him away. Halford wrote: I tried to seduce him We went to my room to continue drinking, but I was too invincible to try anything and he was too invincible to even know what I wanted to try. I think that certainly was for the best.
12. When Halford spotted Queen, who he considers a hero, in a gay bar in Mykonos in summer 1980, he was not as excited as he hoped he would be. Queen had just sunk the Elvis-inspired “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and Mercury rode a motorcycle and dressed in black leather in the video. He said “Was he ripping me off??” The Priest frontman was also mirrid to read an interview with Mercury where he said he did not like heavy metal. It now sounds absurd… but those things were on my mind when I was locked in by him,” wrote Halford.
13. When Ronnie James Dio decided that a supergroup of metal musicians should record their own charity single — “ Stars ” credited to Hear ‘N Aid — as in Bob Geldof’s Band Aid, he invited Priest, Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sister & many others. The trio that everyone wanted to meet though was the fictional heavy metal band with David St. Hubbins (actress Michael McKean) and Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) there. On the Spinal Tap, the guys remained in the character 24/7, whether the cameras were rolling or not,“ Halford recalls of hearing aid. “Hey man, you’re in Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, right? You wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for tap You owe us everything!
14. In the eighties Judas Priest recorded a few unreleased songs with Kylie Minogue’s songwriters. Halford describes himself as “a pop tuck” and around the time Priest released Ram It Down 1988, he convinced the guys to work with the stock Aitken Waterman song writing team (SAW ). By then, the British trio had written a series of Top U.K. hits including Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)”, Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” and Kylie Minogue’s “I Should Be So Lucky” Priest talked Priest into covering the Stylistics’ “You Are Everything” and two originals, “I Will Return” and “Runaround”, although Halford was satisfied with the results, Halford posits in the book that will never make the full session available. I honestly don’t know. But I still love what we did and that we did it!”
15. Not all of Rob Halfords concert ideas got past backstage. When the singer suggested to his bandmates to use a bull whip and ride a motorcycle onstage, they encouraged him to do so. In 1990, a similar situation was not the case when Halford tried to jump on a trend ahead of the Painkiller Tour. A big comeback was coming back to rollerblading, and I drove to the nearest town and bought a pair,” he wrote. Later I was riding around the stage and singing, as we worked together to get the tour production and set list together. A good idea would not it be if I skated during the shows?’ I suggested. … The reaction of the rest of the band was unanimous : “No it would bloody not be a good idea for you to rollerblade at the tour, Rob!“
16. Halford has a theory about why so many of his relationships did not work out. Much of Confess chronicles the singer’s lust for love off stage – which was difficult since he had to stay in the closet for most of the band’s career. He had had a few relationships with men, but was often disappointed to discover that sometimes they cheated with women. He eventually came to realize that many of the men with whom he was involved were straight. He wrote in interviews with people who Confess will think, ‘Oh, he was bisexual! ” Halford wrote about a Brad. But the gut instinct tells me that Brad was a straight guy who made an exception for me.”
17. Jimmy Iovine wanted Halford to make a real porno. After Halford quit Judas Priest and eventually started an industrial project called 2wo, he signed the Notthing of Trent Reznor, which was associated with Jimmy Iovine’s Interscope label. Halford suggested making a controversial video for lead single “I Am a Pig” and pitching Iovine on a pornographic video. Iovine said, “Fucking awesome!” but the executive was confused when he saw the video, directed by drag queen Chi Chi LaRue. “We shot a super-dramatic, high-camp, erotic mini-movie, full of all pacing, licks, rippling torsos and grinding,” he wrote. “It was homoerotic. … Jimmy Iovine hated it. He said angryly, ‘That’s not porn,’ when he saw it. … I wanted it to be banned! ”
18. When Halford reunited with Priest in 2003, he started using a teleprompter. He had several of the lyrics forgotten – an occurrence he blames on years of alcohol abuse. Although he was sober, it was still difficult to remember it all. “Then I went to see Korn — a big band — and [frontman] Jonathan Davis had one or two times during the show to squint at a screen,” Halford wrote. Davis extolled Halford onstage the virtues of the Autocue. Davis told him, “It’s great!” “I have so many Korn songs to remember. If I forgot a few words, it is a safety net!” Halford says in the book: “If it was good enough for Korn, then it was good enough for me.”
19. He once gave Queen Elizabeth a heavy metal education.Her Majesty held a reception in honour of British music in 2005 and Halford received an invitation. When he met her, she asked what sort of music he played. Halford said: Heavy metal is Your Majesty.” She asked him why it must be so loud. That’s just so that we can bang our heads, your Majesty! he replied and reported in Confess in Confess : “The Queen grinded that naturally.”
20. Before Johnny Depp was famous, he was a Rob Halford standing backstage.Halford met Depp at an event Alice Cooper hosted in 2018. When they were about to talk, Depp asked the singer : ” Do you remember the Treehouse days??” The Treehouse was a club at which Halford would show up in Fort Lauderdale when Judas Priest screamed for Vengeance in 1982. Halford would go there, drink, and sing Priest songs with a cover band. Halford asked Depp how he knew about that, and the actor said: “I had heard you used to go down and jam on Priest songs, so I would go down in case you turned up.” Halford told him that he didn’t remember him every time! Also in the song, Depp said : “You wouldn’t,” Halford wrote that he was “absolutely gob smacked”.