This is a great read. Rob Halford's own, inimtiable voice narrates you through the story of his life from childhood to the present right up to COVID. Growing up in the Midlands town of Wallsall (North of Birmingham, East of Wolverhampton).
From memories of 68 when the wizard shook the world
Metal came from foundries where the midlands sound unfurled
The Bull Ring was a lonely place of concrete towers and steel
The coal mines and the industries were all I had to feel. — from Made in Hell
Halford's upbringing was less poverty-stricken and dire than many of his fellow Brummies that forged Heavy Rock and Metal. What makes Halford's story most interesting (IMO), is navigating the waters of being a famous singer — indeed, the Metal God — for decades as an in-the-closet, gay man, long before it was socially accepted. Fortunately, for Rob, his family, friends, and his Priest bandmates knew Rob was gay from day one, and it never mattered to them at all. Still, Rob lived in mortal fear of being outed, fearing that people knowing his secret would destroy Judas Priest.
Having to repress his sexuality for so long (he only came out in 1998) led to predictably destructive behavior. Excess (drink) drugs, and Rock n Roll. Sadly for Rob, the sex part was truly hard to come by for him. Even at the zenith of Priest’s popularity in the 80s. Here was Rob Halford, rock star Metal God, fresh after rocking a stadium full of fans — his bandmates enjoying the spoils of backstage groupiedom — relegated to sneaking off to remote truck stops in hopes of having anonymous sexual encounters through glory holes in mens room stalls. Desperate not to be seen, caught, or outed. More often than not, nothing occurred leaving him in a constant state of sexual frustration. It was a brutal dichotomy of being on top of the world professionally, while lonely, frustrated, and miserable, personally. No wonder he abused drink and drug.
The Priest fans will appreciate all of the requisite Judas Priest story points:
- Band inception
- Finding Glenn Tipton
- Recording all the albums, including Rob’s assessments of which were hits and which were misses
- All the tours
- Getting blamed for the suicide of two teens being put on trial for their lyrical content
- Finding Scott Travis
- The constant bickering between Downing and Tipton
- Halford quitting the band by accident
- Rejoining the band after some solo albums
- KK Quitting the band on purpose
- Tipton’s Parkinson disease
- Finding Richie Falukner
Obviously, there are loads of personal stories — some tragic — about Rob’s life, too. His devotion to family. His many failed attempts to find love and happiness. His rehab and recovery from drink and drug. Fortunately, his story (unlike most of the truck stop encounters) has a happy ending, with Rob still rocking, now sober for 34 years, and with the same partner for 20+ years.
Rob Halford is one of Rock’s good guys who everyone loves. His book is honest, straight forward, and pulls no punches. I enjoyed it a lot.