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Taking Confession: An Exclusive Interview With The Metal God, ROB HALFORD

By Travis Failey, Planet Earth Contributor
Tuesday, September 29, 2020 @ 6:54 AM


"It's great to be gay. It's wonderful to be gay because there are so many conflicting views about this particular thing that we have today. But I can say categorically that it's not a choice. It's a fact. It's in your DNA."

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Live Photos By Travis Failey/Rocket Sports & Entertainment

Rob Halford has been performing on stage since he was a young boy and from early on he knew he was different than the others. Throughout his youth and then as vocalist for one of the biggest Heavy Metal bands of all time, JUDAS PRIEST, he hid his sexuality in the shadows.

Now in 2020, Rob Halford has written his autobiography, titled Confess, and tells of his personal triumphs and failures in complete transparency. He also shares his stories of his sexual escapades, hopelessness and addiction and his path to becoming the Metal God himself.

We recently discussed with him a few topics that included his looking for love, losing his parents, Kurt Cobain, suicide and more.

KNAC.COM: Hey, Rob. How are you today?

HALFORD: Hello, Travis. How are you, buddy? I'm doing good, thanks.

KNAC.COM: So, first of all, I wanna say happy belated birthday.

HALFORD: Thank you.

KNAC.COM: You're welcome. And I also wanted to give you my condolences for the loss of both of your parents. And, you know, from reading the book, Confess, it seems like they provided unconditional love for you throughout your life.

HALFORD: Well, thank you again. That's very, very generous and thoughtful, Travis. Yes, they did. You know, family is everything. It's absolutely everything. And you tend to appreciate that the longer you live. And I figured that out a long time ago. So yes, without my beloved mom and dad, I think I may have turned out to be a different person. That's right. But thanks. Thanks. And as we pointed out in the book Travis, you know, that simple mantra that my mom said, 'If you’re happy, I'm happy' and just letting your kids go and try to make their dreams is really important in so many ways.

KNAC.COM: Well, speaking of love, I was up to the British Steel section of Confess, and you were discussing some of your personal relationships, hits and misses, etc. And to me, it really seemed like up to that point, you were really looking for or you were missing love in your life. Is this a correct insinuation on my part?

HALFORD: Yeah. Well, as I just said about family is everything, love is everything. That's all we need in the world. We certainly need a lot of love right now, that's for sure. But, you know, I've done a lot of reflecting as I'm writing this book, and the fact that I'm a gay guy who got tired of looking for love was no different to a straight guy looking for love. I mean, we all have different circumstances that surround us, and it is very much a mystery regardless of your sexuality. Of course, in my case, it was in a different arena so to speak, being attached to this incredible heavy metal band. And times were different in those days, and I couldn't really explore the opportunities that I wanted to.

But yeah, I was and sometimes it takes a long time to get to that point, and it certainly did with me and Thomas. You know, Thomas has been in my life now for over 20 years. So yeah, we all find someone. There's always someone out there for us.

KNAC.COM: Absolutely. Well, let me go back to the beginning of the book and one of your first times on stage, or actually your first time on stage. And you're in a play and you have the crown with a bulldog clip on it. I found it pretty ironic that years later, you'd become and copyright "The Metal God".

HALFORD: Yeah. It's funny how life works, isn't it? There's so many beautiful stories in Confess and they all weave magically together in a metal way. Right from those, the very first time that I was on the stage as a little kid at school doing the nativity play with a cardboard crown jammed on my head... But that's what I'm trying to do with Confess. I'm trying to be as honest and open as I possibly can be and not hold anything back. I really thought that this was a time to let anyone that's interested to see every aspect of my life and know things that I'm doing they might not have seen outside of the spotlight. And I would like to feel that there were certainly some stories that are in Confess that engage people and make them think, you know, or go, "Oh, I never knew this. I never knew that."

KNAC.COM: Sure. Ken (K.K. Downing) stated in his book that basically the band knew from the beginning that you were gay. Did they ever give you any indication that they knew prior to you coming out?

HALFORD: I think that there was an acceptance and an understanding right from the beginning, and especially within PRIEST. And I've always appreciated that, that these guys that were from my same neighborhood, a very blue collar, working class parts of the Midlands which was, you know... Again, on reflection, acceptance is a beautiful thing. Acceptance without any kind of prejudice is a beautiful thing. And again, on reflection, I think that I'm lucky that where I came from and the people that I'm surrounding myself with did have that acceptance built into them. And the fact that all of us wanted for PRIEST was my voice and my stage presence was all that mattered, and it should be all that matters in life. But it was a different time then, that's for sure.

KNAC.COM: Oh, definitely. You talk throughout Confess about being non-confrontational, and not only you, but Ken or K.K. Did it seem like if you guys would have had the conversations back then that probably needed to be had in the band that you probably wouldn't have stayed out of JUDAS PRIEST for 12 years and, you know, K.K. wouldn't have left the band?

HALFORD: Wow, that's a really deep question, Travis, and it makes my head kind of spin because it's a big question and it's an important question. But I'll just focus on my own condition as a person. Yeah, as a kid, because of some of the things that happened to me, even now I find myself kind of in an unbalanced situation when it comes to having to confront an issue. I still work on it. I think in life, you can never stop growing. But as far as the hypothesis of if we hadn't done this or we should have done that, maybe this would have turned out this way or that way, it's all conjecture. And it's important because I think that no matter what has happened in your past, it's always good to kind of look back and reflect and utilize what you're good at and what might have been a kind of a difficult situation.

KNAC.COM: And I wanna hit on a couple of little tough things and then we're gonna provide some levity. And so I don't want you to put me into that...keyboard merchant category which I find to be a perfect analogy and highly amusing.

HALFORD: Oh, that's funny.

KNAC.COM: In Confess, you discuss your suicide attempt and your former lover Brad's suicide. Personally, I wanna say I'm really sorry. I've gone through that with my family and my friends and it's a really...it's a horrible experience to go through.

But my question is, in regard to that, when you were on tour with FIGHT in Orlando in April 1994 when it was announced that Kurt Cobain killed himself, you went on stage and disparaged him for doing it, and you went into "Nailed To The Gun". Do you think that was a little bit hypocritical of you?

HALFORD: "Nailed To The Gun" is just, it's just a statement on my part about the way that weapons, not explicitly in America but in the world, weaponry is such a part of life and tragedy. And so the fact that we had to fight them was an opportunity for me to get to on my soapbox, which I don't...which I rarely don't in music. But "Nailed To The Gun" was definitely a reference against the way weapons are used in a way that they were never intended. And it's difficult sort of to try and express the correlation between me at that time with that song and Kurt Cobain because I don't really have the right to have an opinion on that because of what...obviously what Kurt was going through was a terribly difficult part of his life, much like one of my former lovers. You think you know a person. You think you have a grasp on their mental condition, but there's some extent that you don't. And so that was a very powerful day. I've always been a NIRVANA fan just because of the genius of the musician.

KNAC.COM: And did you specifically write "Living Bad Dreams" about Brad who killed himself?

HALFORD: Oh, I might have. Actually, that's a cool question. Music is such a powerful tool, instruments. It can do a lot of things, especially when you're in the composing stage. I have to say as we're speaking right now at this moment in time, I don't think it was, but I guess there could be some kind of sideline to it. I'd have to listen to it again and think about it to be quite honest.

KNAC.COM: The debate continues to happen in this world about whether being gay is a choice or not. Rob, what do you say to people that say that being gay is a choice and not something that you are born with?

HALFORD: Absolutely rubbish. You are born with it. Different people like me get murdered in front of buildings. Why would I choose to be that kind of a person? It's ridiculous. It's great to be gay. It's wonderful to be gay because there are so many conflicting views about this particular thing that we have today. But I can say categorically that it's not a choice. It's a fact. It's in your DNA. It's something that you're born and blessed with, and I'll say God made me this way. Thank you.

KNAC.COM: Okay, lastly Rob, you've handcuffed Andy Warhol, had Madonna look down your pants, flew on a helicopter with Jimmy Page, and met the Queen and Superman. What was the most memorable of those events?

HALFORD: I would say Jimmy Page because he's my...sort of my big musical hero. So I'll give Jimmy first dibs on that one, Travis.

KNAC.COM: All right. I love it. Thank you so much for spending time with me, Rob and we hope to see you on the rescheduled 50th anniversary tour in 2021 for JUDAS PRIEST.

HALFORD: It's been a great interview. Thank you, Travis. Keep safe. All right, buddy. I'll see you next year.

Confess by Rob Halford is a book 60 plus years in the making. If you are a fan of JUDAS PRIEST and Rob Halford, it is a must read. If you’re not, the book is also a great read about personal triumph over tragedy and never giving up on your goals or finding who you are and being comfortable in your own skin, or in Rob's case, leathers.


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