11 Things You Didn’t Know About Rob Halford
Legendary Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford celebrates his 60th birthday today (Aug. 25). The Harley Davidson-riding rock star is best known for his work with Priest, but he's also accomplished a lot with his solo work (see Ultimate Classic Rock's feature 'Made in Hell' - Lyrics Uncovered) and outside interests. We usually keep these lists at 10 items, but with the "Metal God" turning 60 years old, we're breaking the law and turning this feature up to 11! So, without further ado, here's Loudwire's list of 11 Things You Didn't Know About Rob Halford:
On the last show of the tour supporting Judas Priest's 1990 'Painkiller' album, Halford was knocked off the motorcycle he famously rides onto the stage at the end of each show by a misplaced prop. He broke his nose and was rendered unconscious, causing him to miss the last song of what would be his final show with the band for more than a decade.
Formerly a heavy drug and alcohol user, Halford cleaned up his act in 1986, crediting the change with giving him a "great sense of empowerment and strength." That didn't preclude him from singing along with Queens of the Stone Age on their 2000 ode to vices of all shapes and sizes ("Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marijuana, Ecstasy and Alcohol"), 'Feel Good Hit of the Summer.'
On two different occasions in his life, Halford has stepped in to sing in concert with Black Sabbath when their vocalist wasn't available. In 1992, he performed two concerts with them when Ronnie James Dio refused to open for headliner Ozzy Osbourne, and in 2004 he filled in for Osbourne himself when 'The Prince of Darkness' fell ill.
Halford had a small part, playing a porn store clerk in the 2002 independent movie 'Spun.' He doesn't get a lot of screen time, and we refuse to believe he'd really take a shove from a goofily-dressed Mickey Rourke as passively as he does in the film. Let's see "Whiplash" try that nonsense on a Priest stage, right?
In an inspired bit of casting, Rob Halford portrayed a mischievous priest in a 2010 commercial for Virgin Mobile telephones. The singer was in fact raised in a Christian home, and credits this spiritual foundation for helping him remain sober.
Halford says he knew he could count on his fans to support his public 1998 announcement that he was gay. As he told the Montreal Gazette, "Metal fans are just as compassionate and caring and tolerant as any other form of music fans are." Still, he was overwhelmed by the "incredibly intelligent and compassionate" response from around the world, stating, "It made me feel great."
Although he has owned several classic cars in his lifetime, including an Aston Martin, and a Corvette, don't expect to see the proudly budget-conscious Halford on the road in one of those beauties, or his trademark Harley Davidson. Turns out he prefers the interior comfort of his 2006 Cadillac DTS. As he tells MotorTrend, "I'm not a frugal person, but I find it difficult to be extravagant materially."
Like any number of amazingly virile and talented rock stars, Halford spent much of his career in a losing battle against male pattern baldness. He handled the matter with more dignity than most (we're looking at you, Bret Michaels) -- first going for a close-cropped look and eventually shaving his head. Reportedly, Halford considered wearing a toupee, but decided against it. Also, if this report is to be believed, Halford at one point planned to design a line of wigs.
In 1997, Halford took leave from his first post-Priest band, Fight, to record 'Voyeurs,' an electronic-techno influenced album featuring former Marilyn Manson and current Rob Zombie guitarist John 5. The project was executive produced by Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor. It was not a commercial success, leading Halford back to more familiar musical ground with his self-titled band on his next album, 2000's appropriately titled 'Resurrection.'
In an article we highly recommend you read, classical voice teacher Claudia Freelander rated five of the most famous voices in metal by listening to unmarked tapes of each of their work. She judged Halford as "super talented, and the only one I really wish I could get my hands on," praising in particular his "fabulous range of vocal colors" and "mad skills."
In 2009, Halford formed Metal God Records, and soon after began reissuing all of his Fight and Halford catalog titles, along with a quickly expanding series of live and compilation titles. He has reactivated his namesake solo band, issuing two records in between Judas Priest obligations since 2009. The band also opened for Ozzy Osbourne on his recent 'Scream' tour, which sure makes it seem like it's not Halford's idea for Priest to retire after their upcoming 'Epitaph' tour.