Rob Halford of Judas Priest is 30 Years Sober
Author: Justin Mckibben
If one thing is for sure, British bands know how to rock, and they definitely know how to party. Punk rock and heavy metal are synonymous with bad behavior and all out anarchy, so it is never a surprise when rock stars hit a few hardcore bumps on the road of a rowdy life. Some rock stars aren’t so fortunate to make it through. For the man who joined the band Judas Priest in 1973 and sang boldly about breaking the law in the 1980’s there was plenty of hard times ahead. But after all the years of fame and over 45 million albums sold, Rob Halford says it would not have been possible if he had not gotten sober 30 years ago.
Robert John Arthur “Rob” Halford was born August 25, 1951 and is an English singer and songwriter. Today he is still considered one of the greatest front men in the history of heavy metal. Judas Priest is still recording and touring to this day. According to Halford, it never would have happened had he not cleaned up his act.
After the Overdose
A while back during an episode of Behind the Music based on Judas Priest, Halford opened up about the struggles he was facing prior to getting clean. As a gay man, Halford confessed that all the time he spent hiding his sexuality had caused him to fall into deep depression and isolation. Trying to cope with the war he was waging with himself and his own identity, he turned to excessive drug use and alcohol abuse.
Then Halford overdoses on painkillers in 1986. After the overdose, Halford checked into rehab. He has been clean since January 6, 1986. Haldord had chosen to get help with drug and alcohol treatment just a few months before the band released their album Turbo in April of that year. Turbo went on to platinum-selling status with a successful arena tour. When talking about the choice to change, Halford said if he would have kept on the path-
“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.”
Despite the battles he faced with hiding his sexuality, Halford did not actually publicly reveal his homosexuality until 1998, almost a decade after the overdose that had pushed him to get sober.
In 2015 Halford talked more about his sobriety and how he continued on that path over 3 decades in an interview. Halford told the Rock N’ Roll Breakfast Show,
“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 also noted the importance of community and support in the process of seeking sobriety, stating:
“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 studded leather metal head also pointed out that a big incentive to stay sober was his fans. Judas Priest had to put on a powerful and exciting live performance to keep their momentum because for many years they couldn’t get on the radio or MTV. Halford said that with fans expecting him to be on top of his game he would be cheating the fans to show up smashed.
“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.”
Judas Priest has been influencing musicians everywhere. Driving motorcycles across stages all over the world with some of the biggest crowds in heavy metal history, Judas Priest’s leading legend works hard to honor that legacy with his sobriety.
Stories of celebrities who battle with addiction and work hard for sobriety can show us just how all-inclusive the fight against drug and alcohol abuse truly is. Addiction does not discriminate. Just like the Judas Priest front man, many addicts have to seek out help to find sobriety. For thousands of people that journey into recovery begins with effective and innovative addiction treatment.
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