Rob Haldford: “Judas Priest is the beginning of heavy metal”

Judas Priest is recognized as one of the most representative heavy metal bands and, in turn, one of the most influential. / Courtesy Páramo Presents

It was in Birmingham (England), at the end of the 60s, when the iconic heavy metal band Judas Priest was formed with Al Alkins as a vocalist and leader, and a new musical era was brewing with his arrival, but no one knew it at the time. They started covering songs from different bands with a strong and heavy sound, and that is how in 1969 they made their first small tour in some places in England. They were in a process of experimentation, trying to find a sound that would characterize them as a band.

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They suffered from budget, they had no official record label and some of its members began to give up the idea of ​​being part of the band, until a legend came along: Rob Halford. His entry in 1973 earned him Judas Priest his first recording contract with the independent label Gull Records and the recording of his first single: Rock Rollwhich was released in 1974 and was part of his debut album.

Finally, after working on several songs, they released an album with the same name as their first single, but at that time their sound was more focused on hard rock and progressive rock, influenced by bands like Queen and Led Zeppelin. With this work they were able to tour in their country and in other parts of Europe, but they were clear that for their next album they only wanted heavy metal, and that’s how it was.

The consolidation of heavy metal

Having clear the focus of the new album came Sad Wings of Destiny, clearly a “metalhead”, which although today continues to be an important reference for the genre, at the time it was not heard as much. Even so, the record caught the attention of CBS Records, who offered them a formal record deal.

then came Sin After Sinand with this album, with Simon Phillips on drums, they incorporated the combination of the double bass drum with fast rhythms and, of course, the imposing guitar that came to redefine the genre. By 1978, heavy metal transcended not only in its sound, but also in its image. the simple Better By You, Better Than Me It had a cover that featured the entire band dressed in leather, something that drew a lot of attention after Rob Haldfor started using leather as part of the band’s essence.

an extravagant style

Rob said that Judas Priest needed a new image that would show the power of their music, and that’s why he decided that the clothing was in keeping with what the band was expressing, but that’s not all. They were the first to use metal accessories associated with sexual fetishism and masochism, something Halford remembers fondly today.

“With my old school friends, like Metallica, Slipknot and Megadeth, we talked about how the definition of metal started and how that has changed over the years, it’s a whole new experience, because we are the beginning of heavy metal. , so we had our own ideas, our way of dressing and our own development as it flowed, because we didn’t have the example of any other band, there wasn’t any”, revealed the band’s vocalist in an exclusive interview with The viewer.

Judas Priest, a worldwide phenomenon

After being strongly consolidated in the market, they arrived British Steel y Point of Entrytwo albums that were essential for the band to become known throughout the world, with singles like Living After Midnight y Breaking the Lawwhich to this day, almost four decades later, the new generations continue to listen to.

“For me it is very gratifying to see that in the concerts, in the first rows there are always small metalheads singing Breaking The Lawthat makes my heart feel full, because there are so many metal bands today, and that the new generations continue to choose Judas Priest is an honor … there are many options, and yet they trust us and what we do ” Rob stated.

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And it is that after being so successful and starting a new decade, Judas Priest was already doing world tours and sharing the stage with Van Halen, Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot and Mötley Crüe. Success was imminent, but with it came excess and a depression that nearly killed Rob Halford. It was a hard time for the band, as Rob was immersed in a vicious cycle of drugs and alcohol due to the pressure generated by having to hide his sexual orientation, and it was in 1986 when the singer decided to enter a detention center. rehabilitation.

“It was a very complex moment for me, I think it was the worst of my life… I woke up with anxiety and I couldn’t be calm thinking that everyone was going to judge me for who I was, but in the end I received a lot of support,” he commented.

an eternal legacy

The 90s were chaotic, but successful. your album Painkiller took Judas Priest to corners they had never imagined: Austria, Portugal, Yugoslavia, Ireland and Alaska were the countries they visited for the first time, in addition, they had their first presentation at Rock in Rio that was held at the Maracana stadium, in Brazil . They also had to deal with the absence of Rob, who left the band for a while.

Although they had been in the industry for several decades, being successful, the turn of the century did not stop them from continuing to make music. In 2001 they launched Demolitionan album that was controversial for its style, which had industrial metal elements, and it was in 2003 when they announced Halford’s return to the band, and that’s how Tim Owens, who replaced him at that time, withdrew from Judas Priest .

After several years, the mythical band arrives in Colombia within the framework of Knotfest, a festival dedicated to heavy metal lovers that will take place this Friday at the El Campín complex, showcasing its legacy of more than 50 years of career.

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“I feel that passion, dedication, commitment and faith have been fundamental throughout this journey. Believing in everything you do with your music makes a difference, especially when you do live shows, and that is what has characterized us. Wherever we go, we are aware that we are doing something special, every Judas Priest show is different from the last, even if the songs are the same” concluded Rob. the performance changes. Obviously we also owe all the success to the fans who give us all their energy… without them we would be nothing”, concluded vocalist Rod Halford.

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