The Heartfelt Letter That Paved Rob Halford’s Way Back to Judas Priest
As metal's popularity began to roar back after a downturn in the '90s, Judas Priest were still carrying on without their iconic singer, Rob Halford, who split from the band back in 1992. One several-page, heartfelt letter from the self-proclaimed "Metal God" to his former bandmates, however, changed that and paved the way for his eventual return in 2003.
In Confess, Halford's autobiography which was released last year, the singer chalked up his departure to a breakdown in communication — basically, one seriously big misunderstanding that took over a decade to sort out.
In a new interview with Metal Hammer, Halford described the chain of events that helped build his bridge back to Judas Priest, which necessitated him "pouring his heart out" in a handwritten letter and hoping for the best.
About his first show back with the heavy metal pioneers, Halford said it felt "perfectly natural and normal" to be back onstage alongside axeman Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing, bassist Ian Hill and drummer Scott Travis. He noted that it "felt as though I'd never been away," despite an 11-year absence.
As for how he found himself back at the helm in Judas Priest, Halford told the long-running metal magazine, "I was living in San Diego at the time, and I really missed the band, so I went to a coffee shop — and, people don’t write letters anymore, it’s all emails — but I went into the coffee shop and bought a cup of coffee, sat outside with some blue paper and a blue envelope and poured my heart out into what was six, seven or eight pages of where I was at and what I was feeling — how much I missed the band, you know."
"It was a really intimate and personal letter," he continued, "So, I sent that off to Trinifold, our management people, and just let it go. I just thought ‘Let’s see what happens’, but at least I had got it out of my soul, out of my system."
Even if he hadn't rejoined Priest, it seems as if just the act of writing and sending that letter did a wealth of good for other personal reasons. "It’s really damaging if you hold things in," Halford relayed. "It’s damaging to your mental health — you’ve got to find a way to bring those things out," the Metal God went on, "so I poured my heart and soul into this letter. I found out later that this was all part of the journey back, because the guys all read the letter and they said ‘Let’s do it.'"
Halford's official return came at the tail end of a band meeting regarding the Metalogy box set. After discussing particulars, the last item to address was the reunion, which was as simple as asking, "So... are you coming back?" Obviously, Halford answered with a resounding yes.
Overcome with joy, Halford recalled, "And I was just left in my kitchen going ‘Gosh! I’m back in Priest!’, which is so... it was so British, you know. You know how blokes can be, you know, don’t make a fuss... it was so blokey! But it was beautiful, you know, I felt like I just wanted to go out into the streets in Walsall and scream 'I’m back in Priest! I’m back in Priest!' For me it was a very emotional thing, that’s how it is in bands, you’re like family, but I was back and the rest is history!"
While the rest is history, Halford is hoping to make more history with Confess. The audiobook version was recently submitted for a potential Grammy nomination and, in a social media video seen below, the singer urged vote-eligible members of the Grammys to help shine a brighter light on the heavy metal community and caste their vote for Confess in the appropriate category.