Rob Halford

Artist Playlists

About Rob Halford

Rob Halford is at once a supreme and subversive figure in the history of early metal. As frontman for Judas Priest, he established both the extreme sound and fearsome fashion sensibility of the genre during its late-’70s ascent, boasting an operatic shriek that soared above the band’s revved-up riffs, and a penchant for head-to-toe leather attire (not to mention dramatic stage entrances on motorcycle) that forever defined metal as tough music for tough people. But while his hectoring delivery on ragers like “Hell Bent for Leather” and “Exciter” pointed the way from ’70s hard rock to ’80s thrash, Halford also had the finesse to elevate chugging warhorses like “Living After Midnight” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” into shout-along anthems. Following his departure from Priest in the early ’90s, he remained a towering figure in heavy music through a variety of projects—the post-thrash pummel of Fight, the Trent Reznor-produced industrial grind of Two, and the old-school metal theatrics of his eponymous band—before returning to the group in 2003. By that point, Halford wasn’t just an icon to headbangers: After he revealed himself to be the rare openly gay frontman in the aggro, alpha-male world of metal, it became clear just how much of the genre’s black-clad, macho look had been imported by Halford from queer leather-bar culture.

August 25, 1951
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