In a new interview with Mark Dean of Antihero, JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford was asked how he has managed to retain his voice, both in range power, when so many of his peers have struggled to do so. He responded: “I don’t know, it’s like a heavy metal miracle, isn’t it? I’ll be turning 70 next year. I’m excited and I’m thrilled that I’m still able to do what I want to do. There are some things I can’t do like I could do as a younger singer, because I’m an older guy and your body changes, especially your vocal cords. But I’m encouraged, and I’m whipped along by [PRIEST producers] Andy Sneap and Tom Allom in the studio to get the best out of me. So, I’m just very grateful because, again, some of my mates have had difficulties over the years with voice nodules and things that happen to you that really aren’t in your control. So, I just count my blessings that I’m still able to give it another crack at it every time we do a show or make a record.”
Earlier this month, Halford told Dean Delray‘s “Let There Be Talk” podcast that he doesn’t really do any vocal warm-ups before performing live with JUDAS PRIEST. “I just go out and do it,” he said. “And as I’ve been doing this now for 50-odd years, I really have to save my voice; I have to make sure that it’s got the strength. ‘Cause when you’re drinking, that’s the worst thing for your voice, especially when you’re a doing a show. How the hell did I get through those shows [before I got sober]?
“Yeah, I’ve been using these pipes for 50 years, and I’m trying to get the most out of them,” he continued. “I’ve had to make some adjustments. I wish I could sing ‘Painkiller’ like I did in ’91, but I can’t. But I can have a good go. I can give it a good thrashing and a good whack. But even now, after I’ve done ‘Painkiller’ and I finish the song on the stage and the crowd is roaring, I’m going, ‘Could have done better. That note wasn’t quite there.’
“That’s the just the way we push ourselves in this band,” Rob added. “We just love to give the best that we possibly can.”
Halford‘s latest comments echo those he made six years ago while discussing his diminished vocal capabilities in a live situation. “I get frustrated, and I freely admit that I wish I could do the stuff that I could do when I was laying down the tracks in 1974 or 1975, but that’s just ridiculous,” he said at the time. “I don’t think any singer can requalify those moments again. So you go out and you do your best, you know?!”
In a July 2014 interview with the Birmingham Mail, Halford stated about how his vocal performance has evolved over the last four decades: “The voice changes obviously. The trick is just to look after it — don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t do drugs. I look after my voice these days, and still belt it out.
“When I was a raging drunk and drug addict, I really abused my voice. Thank God I realized I was doing some stupid things. You can damage your voice, and find that you can’t do softer things in your music.”
Last year, former JUDAS PRIEST singer Tim “Ripper” Owens praised Halford, saying that he is “singing better now than he has in a long time. He sounds absolutely phenomenal,” Owens said. “And it’s great to hear some of these classic songs that he’s singing on stage. That’s a great thing… Like I said, Rob is singing so good now — he really is. And he looks good, and I think he feels good.”
Owens joined PRIEST in 1996 and recorded two studio albums with the band, 1997’s “Jugulator” and 2001’s “Demolition”, before PRIEST reunited with Halford in 2003.
Halford is promoting his autobiography, “Confess”, which arrived on September 29 via Hachette Books. The book has been described by the U.K.’s The Telegraph as “one of the most candid and surprising memoirs of the year.”
In September, JUDAS PRIEST and Rufus Publications announced the publication of the first-ever official JUDAS PRIEST book documenting the band’s extensive history over the last 50 years. Titled “Judas Priest – 50 Heavy Metal Years”, the book has been put together by David Silver, Ross Halfin and Jayne Andrews.
Prior to being canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, JUDAS PRIEST‘s spring/summer 2020 European tour was scheduled to kick off on May 30 in Helsinki, Finland and conclude on July 28 in Tilburg, the Netherlands. The band was also slated to headline the U.K.’s Bloodstock Open Air festival on August 9 at Catton Park, Derbyshire.
The U.S. leg of PRIEST‘s “50 Heavy Metal Years” tour was due to launch September 9 in Oxon Hill, Maryland and wrap up on October 17 in Las Vegas, Nevada.