Rob Halford hasn’t been into leather for a while.
The Judas Priest frontman, who started sporting the biker look in the ’70s, has quietly worn leather on stage over the years. But according to the metal icon, PETA didn’t get the memo.
In his book “Biblical: Rob Halford’s Heavy Metal Scriptures,” which came out Nov. 1, the singer recalled how the animal rights organization wrote the band a letter in 2001 urging them to “use our courage ( and our metal) to riff against animal abuse” and stop wearing leather. However, the 71-year-old shared that the group was one step ahead of them. They had adopted the synthetic leather substitute a few years earlier.
The metal icon told Fox News Digital that the decision to create a new look was “practical.”
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“Your combat vest, your leather uniform [is] what defines you in your appearance,” he explained. “That can be hard to deal with. It’s no different for a football player… If you don’t wash this thing in the wash, it can develop on its own. So that was the main reason. We have this wonderful man called Ray Brown who has been dressing and designing for Priest for many decades. And he was the first to offer this new fabric [idea]. He said, ‘Hey guys, you’re going to love this. Gone are the days of trying to put on the old wrinkled leather pants and jackets. [Now we have] this thing called pleather. It will do the job and it looks the same. It conveys the same message, the same force, the same imagery.'”
“We go, ‘Let’s go,'” Halford recalled. “But ironically after that, we were approached by PETA and they were like, ‘How dare you wear leather on stage?’ now moved on to pleather. We’re crazy about pleather.””
Halford noted that the band wears leather exclusively.
“It’s practically pure,” he shared. “We’ve got some great people looking after the band, including our big wardrobe girls and guys. You know, you walk off stage and you’re absolutely drenched and wet from spilling your heart, your blood , your sweat and your tears for two hours a night.. And in the wash it goes, ready for the next night’s display.
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In his new book, Halford details starting and leading a successful rock band. Personal stories intertwine throughout his teachings. Halford also describes the “many great aspects” of sobriety although he admits “it hasn’t been easy”. Halford reveals that although he has been sober for 36 years, the battle is on.
“One day at a time is our mantra,” he explained. “When I have my TV [on] and I’m watching my sports… and a beer commercial comes up, I’m like, ‘Oh man, I’d love a cold beer.’ So the temptation never leaves you. And that’s because alcoholism is a disease. You cannot turn it off. It’s impossible. You must therefore use the tools available to you thanks to your sponsor. I have a great sponsor in Washington State who I’ve been in touch with forever. So he’s a great resource if it ever gets that bad. And thank goodness it’s never been so bad. But it’s a good place to go if things ever go wrong.”
“But you have your prayers, you have your meditation, you have your motivational inspiration book,” he continued. “So you have to work hard yourself. You can’t let others do it for you because first of all it’s not their responsibility. You have to take, not control because we are powerless, but you have to do the good adjustments when you have to. Whenever I have these temptations, they don’t last very long. But it really reminds me that you are literally an alcoholic for life. And thank God I still have my life.
Halford, who previously wrote the 2020 memoir “Confess,” said he’s been candid about his past struggles in hopes it will inspire others to seek help.
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“It’s really moment to moment,” Halford said of his sobriety today. “I strongly believe in living in the moment, making the most of each day. No matter what it is, no matter what you do, the day is a gift from God, and you really should enjoy as much as you can by doing the things you can, not just for yourself, but for everyone else. This whole thing about pushing kindness and gratitude is an important thing to consider if you can do it When people say, “Hey, I’m sober,” it’s wonderful. But I know the statement – there’s a lot of hard work going on.”
“I live today, and I don’t even know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” he shared. “Now that’s all that matters.”
Halford said that when he “did my drinking and drug use” he felt like he was “having the best time of my life”. Yet, he pointed out, “it’s the fallacy that addiction can create.”
“You may think you’re having a good time, but you don’t face the reality of your condition,” he said. “What I learned pretty quickly when I started being a sober person is that I can have as much fun. I can have as many good times as I want. I don’t need to get out of my tree on alcohol and drugs. I don’t need to do that to feel a good feeling, to have a good time.”
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While many of his memories are “hazy,” like the time he partied with Andy Warhol at Studio 54, others are just as vivid as day. In “Biblical”, Halford described how Judas Priest was banned from Madison Square Garden after performing at the famed New York venue in 1984. Halford wrote that “our fans spontaneously redesigned the venue’s decor ripping out all the seats and throwing them on stage – we are still banned from there.”
“I have a picture somewhere where you can’t see the scene, [just] the seat cushions, says Halford.[People] took the seat cushions out of the chairs and used them as frisbees… It was pure exuberance. They were people having a great time. It was just pure energy and emotion. But all it takes is one incident. I must stress that I don’t think this was ever meant in a purely destructive way. I don’t think it’s a riot. I think people were taken by the moment. And I’m not making excuses for that. But I think that’s what caused the spark. Sometimes the energy and power of music can go in a tricky direction.”
Halford wrote in his book that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to play Madison Square Garden again. But he’s still eager to hit the road and meet fans.
“I hope they never take anything for granted,” he said. “You have to push the truth, which is this. One of the greatest forms of rock ‘n’ roll that has ever been created is heavy metal. It brings nothing but joy and a lot of healing.”