In the early 1970s, Rob Halford was working as a manager of a porn cinema when fate came a-knocking. His sister, Sue, had just begun dating Ian Hill, a bassist who’d recently formed a little band called Judas Priest. Hill invited Halford to join, Halford did, and the rest is rock and roll history. Judas Priest is now considered one of the most influential and commercially successful heavy metal bands in the world, having sold over 50 million records worldwide. Find out more about their lead singer as we reveal 10 things you didn’t know about Rob Halford.
1. He played a priest on TV
Halford may have been raised in a strict Christian household and he may have spent most of his career playing in a band called Judas Preist, but as the studs and leathers suggest, he’s not actually a priest. Not in real life anyway, although as he showed in 2010 when he portrayed an impish priest on a commercial for Virgin Mobile, he’s not averse to donning the robes from time to time. In another piece of inspired casting, he once played a porn store clerk in the 2002 independent movie ‘Spun.’ Before he jacked it in for showbiz, Halford was a manager for a porn cinema, so if anyone knows a thing or two about selling smut, it’s him.
2. He broke his nose during a show
On the last show of the Painkiller tour in 1990, Halford roared onto the stage on his famous Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He’d done it hundreds of times before and nothing had ever gone wrong. This night was different. The motorcycle failed and collided with the drums. Halford fell off, broke his nose, and spent the first part of the show unconscious. Seasoned pro that he is, he returned to the stage as soon as he regained consciousness to finish the set. It would end up being the last show he’d play with the band for over a decade.
3. He was overwhelmed by support after he came out
Despite dropping very heavy hints about his sexuality in songs like Raw Deal in the 1970s, Halford didn’t come out officially until 1998. Speaking to Montreal Gazette, he explained he’d never had any doubt about how his fans would react, saying “Metal fans are just as compassionate and caring and tolerant as any other form of music fans are.” Even so, he was still bowled over by the show of support shown after his announcement, saying “It made me feel great.”
4. He once handcuffed himself to Andy Warhol
According to Yahoo, Halford once handcuffed himself to legendary artist Andy Warhol. The incident happened at a record-industry party at New York’s Mudd Club in the late 1970s. After noticing a “small, older guy with peroxide-white hair” taking photos of him, Halford quickly put two and two together and came up with Andy Warhol. After his attempts at small talk fell flat, Halford took out the handcuffs he had hanging from his belt, attached one to Warhol and one to himself, and claimed to have lost the key. It didn’t help matters much, and shortly after freeing himself, Warhol made a quick escape to Studio 54.
5. Not all of his ideas have legs
Halford has suggested some crazy ideas to his bandmates over the years, and by and large, they’ve accepted them. Hence the motorcycles onstage and the bullwhip. But now and again, he comes up with something too wacky for them to roll with. In 1990, he thought it’d be a great idea to start rollerblading around the stage on tour. The band, quite rightly, told him to take a running jump.
6. He’s written an autobiography
In 2020, Halford released “Confess,” an autobiography that tells his 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.” Along with the physical release, he’s also released an audiobook version for fans who prefer to have their stories read to them.
7. He taught the Queen everything she knows about heavy metal
You might think Queen Elizabeth would be more into Vera Lynn than heavy metal, and you’d be right. That didn’t stop Halford trying to give her a crash course in metal during a reception in honor of British music though. When it came time for Halford to shake hands with Her Majesty, she asked him what kind of music he played. When he told her, she asked “Why does it have to be so loud?” According to his autobiography, he answered “It’s so that we can bang our heads, Your Majesty!” to which the Queen smiled, “regally.”
8. He loves vintage cars
Halford didn’t get his driving license until he was 38, but he’s been making up for lost time since. The singer loves vintage cars and owns a fleet of rare vehicles that includes a 1970s Aston Martin DBS, a Chevrolet Corvette, and a Mercury Cougar. His main ride is a 2006 Cadillac DTS.
9. Depression drove him to drink
During the documentary series “Behind the Music,” Halford revealed that the years of hiding his sexuality eventually led to depression, which in turn drove him to alcohol and drugs. Things culminated in 1986 when a painkiller overdose finally forced him to seek help. After a spell in rehab, he kicked his addictions and has remained clean and sober ever since. He credits his continued sobriety to his Christian upbringing, which he says “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.”
10. He’s worth a fortune
Halford is part of one of the biggest and most influential heavy metal bands of all time. As a member of Judas Priest, he’s sold over 50 million records worldwide, won Grammy Awards, been featured on video games such as Guitar Hero and the Rock Band series, and been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He’s known as “Metal God” to fans and as one of the greatest voices in rock to just about everyone else. Obviously, none of that is guaranteed to make him rich, but it has anyway. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Halford is now worth the phenomenal sum of $30 million.