Rob Halford Turns 65: Inside The Judas Priest Frontman’s Wild Rock ‘N’Roll Life
Rob Halford has turned 65. The longtime Judas Priest frontman was born August 25, 1951, putting him securely in senior citizen status. Halford also shares a birthday with Kiss bassist Gene Simmons, who turned 67.
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Rob Halford is the voice behind some of Judas Priest’s biggest songs, including “Living After Midnight,” “Breaking the Law,” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.” Judas Priest became MTV Headbangers Ball darlings in the ’80s before Rob took a break from the band in the early ’90s. Halford rejoined Judas Priest in 2003.
While his band’s music isn’t the usual TV talent competition fare, one year after finally taking home a Grammy Award (after five nominations!), Halford even made a surprise appearance on American Idol to perform with contestant James Durbin on the show’s Season 10 finale. Durbin asked Idol fans to “give metal a chance,” and they did.
Rob Halford has one of the biggest voices in heavy metal, but for years he kept quiet about one very important part of his life. It wasn’t until 1998—nearly 25 years after he first joined Judas Priest—that he publicly came out as gay. Rob made the announcement during an MTV interview.
“I think that most people know that I’ve been a gay man all of my life, and it’s only been in recent times it’s an issue that I feel comfortable to address,” Halford said.
Rob later told the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News that everyone in his life knew he was gay, but that still waited until he took a break from Judas Priest to come out publicly.
“Everybody in the band knew I was a gay man, and everybody in my crew knew I was a gay man, and those were the people that I associated with on a working level,” Rob said.
The rock legend also said that only two-thirds of the “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” mantra applied to him as far as groupies were concerned.
“I had the drugs and the rock ‘n’ roll, but I was not having the sex. That is how it worked out for me.”
Rob Halford also made headlines in 1990 when his band faced a civil trial in Nevada stemming from alleged subliminal messages on Judas Priest’s Stained Glass album.
1990: Ian Hill, Glenn Tipton, Rob Halford, K. K. Downing, Scott Travis pic.twitter.com/y69QQa0SYo
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After fans James Vance and Raymond Belknap made a suicide pact while listening to the 1978 Judas Priest album for hours, their parents alleged that the words “do it” and “let’s be dead” from the song “Better By You, Better Than Me” pushed them to commit the act. (Belknap died of a self-inflicted gunshot would that day, while Vance survived but died from complications of his injuries three years later.)
A judge dismissed the suit, but 25 years later, Rob Halford penned a passionate essay for Rolling Stone in which he recounted the gut-wrenching trial.
“The trial shook us up, because it came from a country that we love dearly,” Halford wrote.
“We’ve always had this fantastic relationship with America. To come from a place that we love so much was a shock. We were in court, 9 to 5, every day for a month … We’re British metal musicians, and we’re having to defend ourselves and our music and our fans about the ridiculous, absurd accusations that we put these messages in our music designed to kill yourself. It was preposterous, absolutely ridiculous. So it was a very emotional circumstance.”
Halford also revealed that the most painful part of the trial was the fact that two huge “massive” Judas Priest fans lost their lives tragically after a night of drinking and drugs took their minds to a terrible place.
“I really wanted to go over to the mother of the boy who killed himself and give her a hug, and say, ‘I’m sorry for the loss of your kid.'”
Earlier this year, Rob Halford told Ultimate Classic Rock that Judas Priest is looking forward to another studio album and tour.
“I think it’s very important that we make another stand alone record again, a heavy metal record that’s going to have its own legs and just be as different as all of them have been so far,” Rob told UCR in April.
“It’s really important to be a working band and by that, I mean, packing your suitcase, locking the door and getting in the van,” Halford said. “As daunting as that can be at this time of life sometimes, it’s still the biggest thrill, privilege, and honor to be able to take a band like Priest and play to millions of our fans around the world.”
In other words, even at 65, Rob Halford has no plans of slowing down.
[Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images]