Rob Halford is 'Locked and Loaded'
By Naughty Mickie
Photos by Keith Durflinger
Rob Halford. The name is synonymous with Judas Priest, but the originator of metal
sound has come of his own. Halford is back in the mainstream with
"Resurrection," an awesome release harkening back to the days when rock was hard
and music was tough.
I'm sitting with a steaming cup of coffee and pecking away at my computer when the
phone rings. I answer to hear the warm voice of Halford.
"I'm slowly getting my mind and body going," Halford teases.
He then describes in detail his "rock and roll morning" of sipping Starbuck's
and looking out at a nearby lake. It's around noon where Halford is, in Ohio, and he's
taking things slowly, as he will be performing later tonight with Iron Maiden and
Halford is absolutely charming as he shares good news he has just received.
"Resurrection" has hit #2 in the international charts, losing to a compilation
dance album. He laughs at the irony of the situation, but is pleased because this will
give him the opportunity to headline shows in Europe.
If you have seen Halford's recent tour, you may notice that it is very simple compared
with his previous concerts. Gone are the motorcycles and wild stage antics; only good
solid metal is in their stead.
"I wanted to get back to the place where I could display all the great things that
the voice can do and to show what metal represents," says Halford. "Next year I
will be celebrating 30 years of head banging."
Halford started singing as a schoolboy in England. He spent time in school choirs and
productions. After finishing school, he worked as a lighting technician at The Grand
Theatre. But, good for us, the stage called him out from behind the scenes.
"Music was always my calling," says Halford. "I receive a lot of
personal pleasure and satisfaction from singing... it is a soulful moment."
Halford never went the usual path of vocalists. He never had any vocal training,
instead he created his own unique style of singing.
"It was very much a self-teaching experience. When we began, metal was in its
infancy." Halford says confidently, "I was something of an innovator."
Halford takes his art seriously, though, he approaches each concert like an athlete,
making sure to get plenty of rest. He also doesn't drink or use drugs. But unlike the
usual school of thought, Halford has his own way of warming up his voice.
"About two minutes before I go on, I scream through the first verse," Halford
admits. He explains that, for him, it is easier to sing "all out" in a high
register, rather than run scales or other vocal techniques.
Off-stage, you might find it hard to recognize the "Metal God."
"Outside of music, I'm very kind of low-key, flat and boring," laughs
He has three homes- one in England, one in Arizona and an apartment in San Diego,
California. He also enjoys Amsterdam, Holland.
As for Arizona, it's no secret that Halford hangs with some major players in the music
industry, such as Alice Cooper, Dave Mustain (Megadeth) and Maynard from Tool. He feels
quite at home in the desert, saying, "It's a very special part of America."
Halford adds that he likes the scene of San Diego and has some very nice friends there
He likes hitting the open road on his 1981 customized Harley Davidson Lowrider, which
is featured on the cover of his latest effort.
Halford shares the love of bikes with riders like me, who nod in agreement when he says
"it's a moment of freedom and a part of rock and roll."
Halford also spends his time on the Internet and feels that it is a tool which
musicians should employ to their advantage.
"I encourage all bands to get a Web site," says Halford.
He explains that they should take the time to post photos and their bios because this
is one of the ways A&R searches for new talent. He even has a site of his own,
www.RobHalford.com, which is pretty cool. You can
also find some information about Halford at
Halford is strikingly literate when you speak with him. I am surprised when he admits
that he hasn't attended college, but I soon discover his secret.
"I love literature," says Halford. "It's useful for lyricists and also
good for the brain. I encourage everyone to pick up a book and read."
he's reading "The Boys" by Martin Gilbert. The book is a selection of personal
stories from World War II concentration camp survivors. Halford says that it's a hard read
because, at times, it can be overwhelming and very emotional. He likes to read non-fiction
and historical stories, interspersed with occasional "fluff," such as Stephen
After a long discussion of literature, we get back to music. Halford says that he
thinks the diversity of the music scene is a good thing.
"I've been around so long and experience so much," Halford says. "At the
end of the day, music is about deriving pleasure; it's all good."
For aspiring artists, Halford has some sound advice, "Keep it simple, have the
best time you can and go for your dreams."
He continues, stating that "fame vanishes quickly. Keep a day job and persevere;
Halford went for his dreams and has had tremendous staying-power. I ask him to what he
attributes his success.
"It's remarkable," smiles Halford. "I don't want to know what it is or
Halford will be on tour through spring and then back in the studio in February-April
2001 and hitting the road again by 2002. Sometime in there he will also perform at the
Summerfest in Europe. But he loves being out on the road, "It's the best part of it
for me; the most fulfilling."
He also finds it "incredibly rewarding" that metal is coming back. Between
you and me, did it ever really go away? Either way, we can all sleep soundly tonight,
because, as Halford so aptly puts it, "The good stuff's here now."
After writing this story, I had the opportunity to meet Halford backstage after his
performance at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Irvine, California. It was an awesome
show where his voice hit notes that left you stunned. He was relaxed in jeans and a tank
top, greeting me with sincere warmth and, true to his words, the Metal God was a quiet,
sweet man who conducted himself very professionally. I had brought him a book,
"The Pessimist's Guide to History," which put a smile on his face and we chatted
a few minutes about motorcycles and music. I think I have learned one more small secret
about this premier vocalist-- he is a real person first.