JUDAS PRIEST FRONTMAN ROB HALFORD DISCUSSES THE BAND’S FORTHCOMING ROCK HALL INDUCTION, PLAYING WITH FORMER MEMBERS AND WHOM HE THINKS SHOULD BE ACKNOWLEDGED
Andy Greene of Rolling Stone spoke with the Metal God and Judas Priest frontman, Rob Halford, about the band’s forthcoming induction into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Excerpts from the interview appear below.
Rolling Stone: What does this [induction] mean to you on a personal level?
Rob Halford: It’s a validation, more than anything else, of the importance and the relevance of Judas Priest. Fifty years we’ve been doing this. To have this opportunity as we continue to celebrate our 50th anniversary is just a beautiful thing. It couldn’t have happened at a better time.
It’s definitely a validation of…the importance of heavy metal music. I’ve been championing the need for more heavy metal in the Hall of Fame. You look at the list of people that have been in since the Hall started in 1986: “They’re not metal, they’re not metal, they’re not metal …”
Rolling Stone: It’s basically Black Sabbath, Metallica, Deep Purple, and now you guys.
Rob Halford: That’s it. I guess that’s better than nothing. I’ll tell you what, since you mention those great friends of ours. To be in the company, the prestigious hall of artists, characters, and influencers, all of these wonderful people … it’s the real deal, man. I can’t really describe it in words…Words are great. Words are good. Expressions, emotions … but what really matters is sitting in front of your stereo with your headphones on and listening to the music.
I’ll tell you what’s particularly extra sweet is this statement that we’re getting inducted as Musical Excellence. I love that. I didn’t expect that. When you investigate what they mean by that, it’s another great statement about this band and the music we’ve been making for five decades.
Rolling Stone: The rock-critic establishment didn’t get metal for a long time even though the fans have always loved it. Why do you think that was?
Rob Halford: I’ve said forever that metal has always been perceived by the academia of rock & roll … we’re the underdogs. We’re the black sheep of the rock & roll family. That certainly doesn’t appear to be the case now. I think with Priest being put in the Hall and you see the extraordinary list of people that have been inducted, hundreds of people, yes, we matter. We’re important. We have something to say. It’s a reference to the millions and millions and millions of metal fans around the world that adore this kind of music.
Rolling Stone: You sure got a lot of votes in the fan vote.
Rob Halford: I just put a couple of things on social media thanking the fans for that. This would never have happened without them. All of us in the Hall of Fame, our foundation is built on our fan base. Our fans have kept us in that spotlight. Our fans have kept the focus on us. We make the records, we make the tours, but you’re nothing without your fans. You have to acknowledge and respect and send the love back to the fans.
Rolling Stone: They decided to take in you, Les Binks, K. K. Downing, Ian Hill, Dave Holland, Glenn Tipton, and Scott Travis. Did they make the right calls there?
Rob Halford: Absolutely, yes. Absolutely. In terms of ticking the boxes of how long you’ve got to be in, and this, that, and the other, yes. Whoever has been attached and related to Judas Priest has had a role to play. I think the significance of the way they’ve chosen these particular musicians is correct.
Rolling Stone: A lot of bands play with ex-members at the Hall of Fame. Are you open to performing with K.K. Downing and Les Binks?
Rob Halford: Absolutely. As I said before, you’ve got to push aside anything that gets in the way. You’ve got to remove the emotional clutter and just reference this great celebration. Otherwise, if you don’t do that, and you leave the building, a couple of years later you’ll go, “What the hell? Why didn’t we do that?” It’s a few hours, but those few hours last forever.
We’ve seen it time and time again with the Rock Hall. “She’s coming, he’s not coming, why isn’t he coming? He said this, and he said that.” All this drama. The music matters. It’s all about the music. It’s all about the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame induction.
Rolling Stone: There tends to be a big all-star jam at the end of the night. Are you able to imagine a scenario where Judas Priest is playing alongside Pat Benatar and Duran Duran and Carly Simon and Dolly Parton?
Rob Halford: I was onstage last weekend with Larry the Cable Guy [Laughs]. It was at Alice Cooper’s blast for his great institution the Solid Rock Foundation. If I could stand alongside my buddy Larry and sing “roll, baby, roll” [from the Doors’ Roadhouse Blues], I can certainly stand next to Dolly Parton on my left and Lionel Richie on my right.
Rolling Stones: What other metal bands do you hope to see get into the Hall of Fame in the future? The Iron Maiden fans are quite crazed about them not getting in yet.
Rob Halford: That would be my first shout-out. Motörhead deserve to be in, even posthumously. Are Scorpions in?
Rolling Stone: Nope.
Rob Halford: Well, Scorpions … and I don’t want to get into the differences between metal and hard rock. As far as I feel, it’s who deserves. And I’d have to have a think on others.
Rolling Stone: What else do you hope to accomplish now that you’re finally in the Hall of Fame?
Rob Halford: The music drives you. We’re making another record. We started tracking. This last tour was probably the only one we ever did where we weren’t supporting new music. Pretty much every other tour we’ve done since [our 1976 LP] Sad Winds of Destiny has been to reinforce, “This is the music we’re making now.” That’s what’s next. There really is no end in sight…
…This is almost my 71st trip around the sun. I’ve got my health. I’ve got my band. I’ve got my fans. I’ve got my metal. That’s it for me. I’m just relishing every single moment and opportunity that life is providing.
Read more at Rolling Stone.
As mentioned above, Judas Priest recently wrapped up their 50 Heavy Metal Years North American tour on April 13th in Ontario, Canada. The band is currently working on recording their next album and guitarist Glenn Tipton has described it as both “what every fan would want to hear,” as well as, “a bit experimental.”