Judas Priest's Rob Halford Celebrates 30 Years of Sobriety

By David Konow 10/18/16

After surviving a painkiller overdose, Halford went to rehab and got sober in early 1986.

Judas Priest's Rob Halford Celebrates 30 Years of Sobriety

In the world of heavy metal, Rob Halford, the lead singer of Judas Priest, is considered one of the greatest singers and frontmen in the genre’s history. Judas Priest, which has sold over 45 million albums, is still recording and touring, and Halford told the Washington Times it wouldn’t have been possible if he hadn’t gotten sober 30 years ago.

Halford said that if he didn’t clean up his act, “I’d be dead. Literally, I would be dead. I wouldn’t be talking to the Washington Times now. I wouldn’t be here. The place where I got to, the next step, was lost. I love being in a band. I love making music. I had to figure out that was way more important than being addicted.”

On the band’s Behind the Music episode, Halford, who is gay, confessed that when he hid his sexuality he felt depressed and isolated, which lead him to the excessive use of alcohol and drugs. After he overdosed on painkillers, Halford went into rehab and officially got sober on Jan. 6, 1986, right before the band released their platinum seller Turbo.

In an interview with the Rock N’ Roll Breakfast Show in 2015, Halford said, “It’s still very much one day at a time. I think that’s the only way you can really make it work. I’m leaving a trail behind me by January the 6th of 30 years ... It's a trail of sobriety that I really know for a fact has helped me in my career and in my life as a musician and as a person. I’d like to feel that I’m better in both worlds in that respect. I think I’ve improved in a lot of ways because of being able to stay clean and sober.”

Halford added, “You can’t do it by yourself—you have to use the tools that you’re given by other people who have got your back and look out for you.”

The singer also pointed out that a big incentive to stay sober was his fans. Metal bands like Judas Priest had to be great in the live arena because for many years they couldn’t get radio or MTV play. With fans expecting Halford to be on top of his game when he performs, “I can't go out there smashed and drugged. That's cheating my fans. That’s also part of my daily spiritual ritual—keeping clean and sober for my own well being, but also for my fans and everybody else.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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