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Halford, Rob (b. 1951)  
 
page: 1  2  

Drummer Scott Travis joined Priest for Painkiller and is still with the band today.

New Bands: Fight, Two, Halford

Citing personal tensions within the band, Halford left Priest at the conclusion of the Painkiller tour in 1991.

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However, he did not languish long after leaving Priest. With Travis on drums, Halford formed Fight, a thrash-metal band featured in John Baxter's documentary Fight: War of Words (2007). Fight recorded two full-length albums, War of Words (1993) and A Small Deadly Space (1995), along with the EP-length Mutations (1994).

Fight toured the globe, playing small venues as well as larger stadiums. Fight's stripped-down stage was certainly a change from Judas Priest's pyrotechnic performances. While many of Fight's fans were fans of Judas Priest, Fight also appealed to an audience more interested in the head-banging thrash scene than in what they were hearing on commercial radio.

In Fight: War of Words, Halford commented that he was energized by this new audience's enthusiasm, as well as by Fight's level of musicianship and performance. Fight was ready to play anywhere they could plug in their amplifiers.

Halford joined guitarist John 5 (then John Lowery) to form the industrial band Two. In 1997, Two released Voyeurs, which was produced by Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails) and Dave "Rave" Ogilvie.

Two represented a departure from the genre of heavy metal, allowing Halford to experiment with a variety of musical ideas, tones, and styles.

In an interview with Chaos Control Digizine, Halford described the freedom he experienced as an artist with Two, which was "popping around all over the place musically." Gay pornography director Chi Chi LaRue directed the video for Two's single "I Am a Pig," which featured gay and straight adult-film actors.

Halford returned to the metal genre after his stint with Two, as he formed the band Halford in 1999. Critics and fans praised Resurrection (2000), as well as Live Insurrection (2001) and Crucible (2002).

In 2003, Halford appeared in the film Spun (directed by Jonas Åkerlund), playing a clerk in a sex shop.

Return to Judas Priest

Halford rejoined Judas Priest in 2003, and Priest released the Metalogy box set in 2004. In July 2003, the band released Angel of Retribution. The world tour that accompanied the release marked the band's thirtieth anniversary.

In June 2008, the band issued Nostradamus--a two-CD release based on the life and prophecies of Nostradamus. This latest CD is a bit of a departure for Judas Priest, who incorporate synthesizers, woodwinds, and orchestral strings on Nostradamus.

In Guitar World, Halford noted that, while he was writing Nostradamus with Downing and Tipton, he listened to classical music and operas to put himself in the right frame of mind for the project.

Halford continues to record and tour with Judas Priest, and he is also working with the band Halford, which is scheduled to release a CD later in 2008.

In addition, he voices the character of General Lionwhyte in the action adventure video game Brütal Legend, which is scheduled to be released by Double Fine Productions in 2008.

Offroad, Halford splits his time between residences in Phoenix, San Diego, Walsall, and Amsterdam.

Heavy Metal Homoeroticism

Although heavy metal is infused with , Halford is the only mainstream metal artist who has come out as gay.

At first glance, it may seem that is more prevalent than homoeroticism in heavy metal. Among male metal artists, there is a lot of macho posturing with phallic instruments, and women (both backstage and in the audience) often serve as sexual objects exclusively for the gratification of the male performers.

However, it is important to keep in mind that some metal performers--most notably those "glam metal" rockers (e.g., the "hair bands" of the 1980s like Cinderella, Mötley Crüe, and Poison)--significantly challenge heterosexual notions of masculinity.

Even in the early, pre-leather days of Judas Priest, the band members wore flamboyant outfits that could be described as more feminine than masculine. When he first joined Priest, for example, Halford would borrow his sister's clothes to wear on stage with Priest.

Later, when the leather look became more prevalent in the metal scene (largely thanks to Halford), it was often interpreted as an extreme affirmation of masculine heterosexuality. But the gay-inspired look was more likely intended as performative masculine drag or as indicative of a leather subculture.

Halford has glbtq fans, and they understand the queer subtext of his performance art. In The Advocate, Halford described meeting a fan who told him that, while watching Priest on MTV when he was 13 years old, he realized he was gay because he was turned on by Halford in his leather.

Still, metal is viewed as a largely heterosexual musical genre. In a 2007 interview with Spinner, Halford commented on his status as an out gay metal artist: "I'm invisible, really, in the gay community, and that's just because of where I do what I do--metal. Obviously, there are . . . gay, bisexual, lesbian metalheads. . . . But for all intents and purposes, I'm the invisible metal man in [gay] culture."

Krista L. May

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    Bibliography
   

Baxter, John, dir. Fight: War of Words--The Film. Metal God Entertainment, 2007.

Benstock, Richard. "Prophet Makers." Guitar World (September 2008): 54-62.

Gourley, Bob. Interview with Rob Halford. Chaos Control Digizine (1998): http://www.chaoscontrol.com/content_article.php?article=robhalford.

Robertson, Jessica. "Rockin' Out Interview: Judas Priest's Rob Halford." Spinner (June 11, 2007): http://www.spinner.com/2007/06/11/rockin-out-interview-judas-priests-rob-halford.

Wieder, Judy. "Rob Halford." The Advocate 759 (May 12, 1998): 56-69.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: May, Krista L.  
    Entry Title: Halford, Rob  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2008  
    Date Last Updated July 27, 2008  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/halford_r.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
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Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2008 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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