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Robert John Arthur Halford (born 25 August 1951) is an English singer and songwriter. He is best known as the lead vocalist for the Grammy Award-winning heavy metal band Judas Priest. He is famous for his powerful wide-ranging voice and his trademark leather-and-studs image, both of which became iconic in heavy metal.[1] In addition to his work with Judas Priest, he has been involved with several side projects, including Fight, Two, and Halford.

Rob Halford
Rob Halford of Judas Priest.jpg
Rob Halford of Judas Priest at The Warfield Theater in San Francisco on the Firepower tour, April 19, 2018
Background information
Birth nameRobert John Arthur Halford
Also known asMetal God
Born (1951-08-25) 25 August 1951 (age 67)
Sutton Coldfield, England
Years active1969–present
Associated acts

AllMusic says of Halford: "There have been few vocalists in the history of heavy metal whose singing style has been as influential and instantly recognizable... able to effortlessly alternate between a throaty growl and an ear-splitting falsetto".[2] Halford was voted number 33 in the greatest voices in rock by Planet Rock listeners in 2009.[3] He was nicknamed "Metal God" by fans.[4]



Early yearsEdit

Halford was born in Sutton Coldfield, but raised on the Beechdale housing estate in Walsall,[5] a town to the northwest of Birmingham in England's West Midlands. His early influences included soul screamers, such as Little Richard, Janis Joplin and Robert Plant.[6]

Judas PriestEdit

Halford in 1984

Halford was introduced to Judas Priest co-founder Ian Hill by his sister, who was dating Hill at the time.[7] Halford, a manager of a porn cinema,[8] joined the band as singer, bringing with him drummer John Hinch from his previous band, Hiroshima.

In August 1974, the band debuted with the single "Rocka Rolla", before releasing an album of the same name a month later. The next albums were Sad Wings of Destiny (1976); 1977's Sin After Sin; and 1978's Stained Class and Killing Machine (released in America as Hell Bent for Leather). 1979 brought their first live recording with Unleashed in the East.

In 1980, the band released British Steel, then Point of Entry in 1981, featuring the song "Heading Out to the Highway".

The 1982 album Screaming for Vengeance had a song, "You've Got Another Thing Comin'", which garnered strong US radio airplay, and the popular follow-up Defenders of the Faith was released in 1984. Turbo was released in April 1986. In May 1988, Ram It Down was released.

In September 1990, the Painkiller album dropped the 1980s-style synthesizers for almost all of the songs. Along with a change in musical style, the band's look changed as well. Halford emerged with all-new tattoos, including a bent Judas Priest cross on his right arm and ring around his other, as well as a few on his shoulders. He also began shaving his head.

Halford during the World Wide Blitz Tour in 1981

During the tour for Painkiller in August 1991 at a show in Toronto, Halford rode onstage on a large Harley-Davidson motorcycle, dressed in motorcycle leathers, as part of the show. He collided with a half-raised drum riser and fell off the motorcycle, breaking his nose.[9]

After regaining consciousness, Halford returned and performed the whole concert. In the band's Behind the Music episode, he named the accident as one of the events that caused the rift between him and the rest of the band that would eventually force them apart.

After spending nearly 20 years with Judas Priest, Halford announced to the band on 4 July 1991 that he was leaving, and he also sued their label, Sony, for restrictive practices. Halford would leave the band in May 1992.

Fight, 2wo and HalfordEdit

Halford first formed the band Fight with Judas Priest drummer Scott Travis, bassist Jack "Jay Jay" Brown and guitarists Brian Tilse and Russ Parrish, recording two albums between 1993 and 1995: War of Words (1993) and, after Parish's departure and his replacement by Mark Chausee, A Small Deadly Space (1995). While the first one was a straightforward tough and solid metal record, the second record had a grungier sound, making it less appealing to fans who had developed a taste for his debut album.

Between the albums, Fight released an EP, Mutations, featuring War of Words studio versions, live cuts and alternate mixes. Immediately before this, Halford had recorded a track called "Light Comes Out of Black" for the 1992 movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The song featured music provided by Pantera, although their contribution is uncredited. After Fight, he collaborated with guitarist John Lowery in an industrial-influenced project called 2wo which was executively produced by Trent Reznor and released on his Nothing Records label.

Halford returned to his metal roots in 2000 with his band Halford and the widely acclaimed album Resurrection (2000), produced by Roy Z. He joined the Metal 2000 tour with Iron Maiden and Queensrÿche to support the album. A live album in 2001 was followed up by Crucible (2002).

Reunion with Judas PriestEdit

Halford often rides a motorcycle onstage.
Halford, 2005

Halford's reunion with Judas Priest had been speculated about when he was no longer in the line-up, at least since the release of the Resurrection album, which some critics[who?] claimed sounded more like Judas Priest than the band's previous album Jugulator (1997). Halford initially ruled it out,[10] then reconsidered, stating in 2002 that "Gut instinct tells me that at some point it will happen".[11]

In July 2003, Halford returned to his former band, and they released Angel of Retribution in 2005. The world tour that accompanied the release marked the band's 30th anniversary. In 2008, Halford recorded Nostradamus with Judas Priest, and appeared with the band on the Metal Masters Tour.

In 2011, Judas Priest embarked upon what was billed as their final world tour as a group, titled the "Epitaph" tour.[12]

Subsequent to the tour's announcement, Halford stated that he would continue to move forward with his solo band.[13]

Despite the "final tour" announcement in 2011, Halford and Judas Priest (minus K. K. Downing, who left the group prior to the Epitaph tour) recorded another album, Redeemer of Souls, which was released in 2014, the album supported by a concert tour.

In 2017, Judas Priest began to work on another studio album with Halford. The album, Firepower, was released March 9, 2018.

Other activitiesEdit

Halford has performed as the vocalist for Black Sabbath for three shows. He replaced Ronnie James Dio for two nights in November 1992, when Dio elected not to open a show for Ozzy Osbourne. Halford also filled in for Osbourne in Black Sabbath on 26 August 2004 (one day after Halford's 53rd birthday) at an Ozzfest show in Camden, New Jersey, since Osbourne could not perform due to bronchitis.[14]

In early 2008, Halford expressed a desire in making a black metal album, citing encouragement from former Emperor frontman Ihsahn.[15] He said he'd "love to but it's all about finding the time". He provides his voice to the video game Brütal Legend, released in October 2009, where he voices General Lionwhyte, as well as the leader of the Fire Barons, he heavily influenced the appearance of the latter.[16]

In 2002, Halford had a small role as a sex shop assistant in the film Spun.

In 2006, Halford split with Sanctuary Records and founded Metal God Entertainment in Phoenix, AZ, as a record label to release albums DVDs from his projects.

Halford developed the clothing line Metal God Apparel with plans to develop retail sales through 2010.[17][18]

Halford had a brief cameo in a recent commercial for Virgin Mobile, appearing as a priest. His line in the commercial is "Let us pray". Judas Priest's 1977 album, "Sin After Sin" contained a song titled "Let Us Prey/Call for the Priest".[19][20]

In 2013, he did a collaboration with Five Finger Death Punch in their album "The Wrong Side Of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell" for the song "Lift Me Up". [21]

In March 2019, Halford told New Zealand news outlet Stuff that he was working on an autobiography, the idea having been "rattling around in my head forever.” Halford said his principal motivation in writing a book would be “to tell your side of the story from the horse’s mouth, as opposed to something that has been knocked up by somebody else from a bunch of interviews and so forth.” Halford joked that “between my early childhood, adolescent years and the place where I’m at now,” the result would be a trilogy like The Lord of the Rings.[22]

Personal lifeEdit

Halford performing with Judas Priest in 2005

As of 2014, Halford lived in the USA but also maintained a house in Walsall.[23]

Halford is able to play several instruments, including guitar, bass, harmonica, keyboards, and drums.[24]

In an interview with Motor Trend, he revealed that he has owned a variety of classic cars, including a 1970s Aston Martin DBS, a Chevrolet Corvette and a Mercury Cougar. He did not have a driver's licence until the age of 38;[25] as of 2010, his main car was a 2006 Cadillac DTS.[26]

Halford underwent two surgeries; back surgery in 2013[27] and umbilical hernia surgery in 2014.[28][29][30]

Sexual orientationEdit

In 1998, Halford publicly revealed his homosexuality.[31] He broke down in tears saying, "It's a wonderful moment when you walk out of the closet. Now I've done that and I've freed myself. It's a great feeling for me to finally let go and make this statement—especially to The Advocate, because this magazine has brought me so much comfort over the years. Obviously this is just a wonderful day for me."[32]

Halford describes himself as "the stately homo of heavy metal", and says that his announcement was "the greatest thing I could have done for myself." He also explains that he did not announce it sooner due to the fear that he was going to cause harm to himself.[33]

Halford performing at Sauna Open Air in 2011 during Judas Priest's Epitaph World Tour

Halford speaks negatively about the discrimination that the LGBT community still faces in some parts of the world. When asked about his thoughts on if his position as the frontman of Judas Priest has opened the door in positivity for some, he explained, "That happened to me. I'll try and condense this as quickly as I can. I was away from Priest at the time, I was fronting a band called 2wo with John 5, who's now with Rob Zombie. And I was doing an interview with MTV and talking about music and blah blah blah, and very off the cuff, I said, 'Speaking as a gay man in metal...', blah blah blah. Well, the guy dropped his clip, the producer, because it was big news at the time. In reflection, would I have said that while was in Priest? The thing about gay people is that until we come out of the closet, we're always protecting other people: 'I can't do this, because it's gonna hurt so-and-so. We're trying to live the lives of other people, and that's the worst thing you can do. You've gotta learn to love yourself and live your own life. Then you can go out in the world and try and figure everything else out." He recalled that shortly after the interview, he began to fear negative reactions but was quickly inundated with messages of support from his colleagues and fans.[34]

Halford says that society has not changed as much as he hoped since his announcement, "You'd think there would have been some kind of change and people would have moved on after such a long time. Now that I'm moving through my OAP heavy metal years (laughs), I thought a lot of it would be gone by now. And it's a shame. We don't really get to spend a lot of time on this planet together, so there's no point in wasting it being divided."[35]

Halford knew of his sexuality in his youth, and that the current American administration "doesn't look particularly healthy right now. On the other side of it, (much has changed) so we can reach this level of equality. There is still a hell of a lot more to be done and it's taking forever. Sometimes it's like one step forward, two steps back. But these types of challenges only make us stronger, you know?" He then goes to say that walking out on stage as a gay man in a heavy metal band "is a victory. There's something to be said about standing there and not saying a word. On the flip side of that, I make a hell of a lot of noise on that stage."[36]

At the time that Halford revealed his sexuality, he was concerned that he would lose his fanbase as a result. He also explained that he can not return to certain places of the world in fear of being "stoned to death". He described the 1970s and 1980s as "incredibly difficult", but not counting it as important music-wise. Halford jokingly claims that he can not be replaced by a straight man, bringing up late Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury, saying that "if Freddie hadn't have been gay, Queen would've been a totally different band. But that's a really important part of my life that I have to get down on paper at some point."[37]

Substance abuseEdit

In Behind the Music Halford stated that hiding his sexuality during Priest's career caused him a lot of depression and isolation which led to his alcohol and drug abuse.

During the making of Judas Priest's Turbo album in 1986, Halford struggled with increasing substance abuse and violent feuds with his romantic partner. After the latter committed suicide,[38] he resolved to get clean.

He says he has been clean and sober since going to rehab following a painkiller overdose in 1986, stating that, before that point, he heavily abused drugs and alcohol.[39] He made an energetic recovery and his live performances during the subsequent Turbo tour were described as some of his strongest ever.

He was born and raised in a Christian home, and states the following about his upbringing, "On a religious, more spiritual foundation, that really, for me, has become more important since I became clean and sober on 6 January 1986. That was 25 years ago and I think that’s probably more important to me now, on a daily basis."[39]

In a 2015 interview with Western Canada's Rock N' Roll Breakfast Show, Halford gave a more detailed explanation looking back on the day he quit drugs and alcohol and how it affected his live performances and emotional well being since then, "It's a trail of sobriety that I really know for a fact has helped me in my career and in my life as a musician and as a person. I'd like to feel that I'm better in both worlds in that respect. I think I've improved in a lot of ways because of being able to stay clean and sober. But, you know, it is remarkable. And you can't do it by yourself — you have to use the tools that you're given by other people who have got your back and look out for you. And, again, it comes back, a lot of it, to my fans."

In a 2016 interview with The Washington Times, he was asked what part sobriety has played in the band's longevity, he responded, "Without it? Oh, I'd be dead. Literally, I would be dead."[40]

Halford credits the music as support for helping him through his addiction.[41]

Singing style and influencesEdit

Halford possesses a powerful voice with a wide vocal range which is marked by his high-pitched screams and strong vibrato. However, with age, his lower range has matured and become more powerful. Along with Ronnie James Dio and Bruce Dickinson, Halford is one of the pioneers of the pseudo-operatic vocal style later to be adopted by power metal vocalists and regularly appears near the top in lists of the greatest rock vocalists/front-men of all time.[42][43]

Halford describes himself as "a huge Queen fan" since they began and saw their very early shows.[44] He has called Freddie Mercury, the late lead singer of the band, his "ultimate hero" and expressed regret that he never got to know him.[45]

As a vocalist, Halford was influenced by Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin and Robert Plant.[46] He was also influenced by the music of Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, David Bowie, King Crimson, the Rolling Stones, John Mayall and Alice Cooper.[47]


Judas PriestEdit





  • The Complete Albums Collection (2017)[48]

Guest appearancesEdit


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External linksEdit