ICONIC SINGER ROB HALFORD REFLECTS ON HIS LIFE FROM HIS HUMBLE BEGINNINGS TO BECOMING THE METAL GOD
Daniel Lane of Metal Hammer interviewed the Metal God, Rob Halford, in which the iconic singer reflects back upon his life. Highlights from interview appear below.
Metal Hammer: Where and when were you born?
Rob Halford: I was born on 25th August 1951. I was born in my aunt’s house in Sutton Coldfield – that’s the place where I popped out without any warning. And then of course my mum and dad moved to Walsall where I still have a house.
Metal Hammer: How did you get along with your siblings?
Rob Halford: Really, really well. My sister is a year younger than me and we’ve never acted like brother and sister – we’re just best mates. We were always looking out for each other and supporting each other. When our younger brother came along we were both in our early teens and we had this outsider arrive – not that I want to call our Nigel that! But when you’re in your teens, you’re off exploring the world, and then another family member comes along and you become very home orientated again and you feel very protective of your family. On the whole, we’ve always been like a typical family though. There’s always been a bit of friction between us – which there should be. I think that’s when characters develop and that’s how you help each other through life’s hurdles.
Metal Hammer: What was it like being the oldest of three kids growing up in such a deprived area?
Rob Halford: Everybody knows that there are some parts of the West Midlands that are incredibly poor, but they’re honest, hard working people. When I was born in the early 50s, the Second World War had only been over for a few years and there was still rationing going on. But people were very proud and very determined to come back and come back strong. Life was really tough. My dad worked in the steel industry and my mom worked from home and also in the factories and stuff, but it was a good childhood.
Like most council estate communities everybody looked out for everybody else. Everybody also knew everyone else’s business in a way too. I’ve got a lot of good memories from that time. It was a good place to start life and it taught me the value of hard work and I think that ethic is still ingrained in Judas Priest today. We’re still hard working musicians. We never take anything for granted and we’ve all still got that connection to why we wanted to be in a band in the first place.
Metal Hammer: Carrying on from that – at that particular time, how difficult was it for you to come out?
Rob Halford: I think that kind of experience, in terms of the pressure involved, is something that every gay guy goes through – feeling isolated and feeling that you’re the only person in the world who has those kind of feelings. In those days, you didn’t talk about those kind of things. It wasn’t talked about in the media, in soaps or on TV. And, I mean, for me it wasn’t until my late 20s that I felt I was actually part of something bigger y’know?
…I know it’s still tough today, even with the broad base of popular culture in the UK, there’s still a very bigoted attitude towards homosexuality. I know it’s a little bit easier now, but it’s still tough, especially in the world of heavy metal. Although, that said, I like to think I’ve exploded that particular myth.
Metal Hammer: How do you feel about being tagged as a gay icon?
Rob Halford: I think when you get recognised for that, it’s something you don’t expect. The bottom line is that I’m a heavy metal singer in a band. Just because my sexuality isn’t considered to be the norm, for some reason it seems to always carries a bit of extra media interest. I think it’s kind of amusing that I have absolutely no relationship with the gay media whatsoever – not that I’m looking for it either. I’ve never been approached by any of those kind of publications because I think heavy metal is still viewed by the wider media as still being this very macho, male environment and the gay media still treats it with some detachment.
Metal Hammer: In the 80s when it was all pretty boys with lipstick fronting bands and going hell bent for leather to get chicks, how did you fare in the groupie stakes?
Rob Halford: I never got any! [laughs] And that’s the sad thing. I’ve been celibate practically all of my musical career. I know it’s supposed to be sex, drugs, rock’n’roll… Well, I used to do the drugs and I still do the rock n’roll but the closest I came to sex was going back to my hotel room for a wank! [laughs] I don’t want to shatter anyone’s idea about the lifestyle, but basically you play a show, get cleaned up, have some food and go back to your hotel room… alone!
Metal Hammer: What was your parent’s reaction like when you told them you wanted to be in a band? And was it worse than when you told them you were gay?
Rob Halford: I think they sensed it was coming – the band I mean. I really didn’t become totally serious about being a professional musician until I was in my late teens. And by the time I was 20-21, I was already a part of that world. But my mum’s philosophy for everything was, ‘Are you happy? Well, if you’re happy I’m happy.’ Which is a very simple kind of mantra isn’t it? My parents always encouraged me and supported me with whatever I did…
As for coming out, it’s either a case of confront the issue head-on at an earlier stage or, as it was with my lot, it’s something you don’t really discuss. Y’know, ‘If he is… so what? As long as he’s happy.’ But again that comes back to their open-mindedness and their hope that everyone in the family would find contentment wherever they were or whatever they were doing….
Metal Hammer: Do you have faith?
Rob Halford: Oh yes, I have a tremendous amount of faith. For me, I found faith in 1986 when I quit drinking and doing drugs. And once I’d found faith and started the healing process I felt a lot more peaceful inside. I began to appreciate what’s important in life and what’s not important. I used to drink so much that I’d black out and wake up the next morning and not know how I got home. I realised I didn’t need these things to help me write music and I certainly didn’t need these things to help me live my life – I think I had a guardian angel looking over me.
Read more of this fascinating interview at Metal Hammer.
This originally appeared in Metal Hammer 140.
source: Metal Hammer via teamrock.com