For Judas Priest Third Time’s a Charm For Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: ‘That’s the Blessing We’ve All Been Waiting For’

For Judas Priest Third Time’s a Charm For Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: ‘That’s the Blessing We’ve All Been Waiting For’

Back in February, when Judas Priest‘s third nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was announced, frontman Rob Halford told Billboard that, “I must do a duet with Dolly Parton! … If Lionel (Richie) and Priest get in, I think we’ll both be dancing on the ceiling together.”

Now that can happen.

The iconic heavy metal band, long considered one of the Rock Hall’s great snubs, will be joining Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis as the two recipients of the Musical Excellence Award when the 37th annual induction ceremony takes place Nov. 5 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Halford was nothing but exuberant when he spoke via Zoom with Billboard after hearing the news.

“All I want is a self(ie) with Dolly Parton,” he declared with a laugh. But Halford added that he’s both enthused and humbled for his band to be part of the class of ’22 — whose Duran Duran, like Priest, hails from Birmingham, England. “The other day I was just noodling on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame site … and when you look at the list of talent in there, it’s absolutely extraordinary. It’s a very, very important institution for recognizing various people that have been in music since music began, right from the beginning of rock ‘n’ roll. To be part of that is, like, wow…

“And glory hallelujah, there’s another metal band in now. That’s the blessing we’ve all been waiting for.” Heavy metal is, in fact, one of the least celebrated genres in the Rock Hall, with only Black Sabbath, Metallica and Deep Purple (and if you ask some fans, Rush) inducted prior to Priest. 

Halford added that he’s particularly honored by the Musical Excellence Award designation, which morphed from the sideman category and is chosen by a separate committee rather than by the larger general voting body that selects the Performer inductees. “That’s totally unexpected. That’s just a very extra thrill to have that,” Halford noted. “They really look at you beyond the simple band that you are. They really dig deep as to this album and that album this song and that song. I think that really supports what we’ve always tried to do.

“I think it validates the real musical adventure that Judas Priest has been on since Rocka Rolla (in 1974). We’re a band that has taken you through man, many different, many dimensions, of metal. We’ve always called ourselves a classic metal band, but we’re a hard band to pin down. One minute we can be your Turbo Lover and then we can be your Painkiller, and how amazing it is for a band to really search for those opportunities within the genre of heavy metal. So I think the acknowledgement of Musical Excellence is a really sweet addition.”

In addition to continuing members Halford, bassist Ian Hill, guitarist Glenn Tipton and drummer Scott Travis, Priest’s induction will also include former drummers Les Binks and Dave Holland and guitarist K.K. Downing, the latter of whom served from 1970-2011 and had an acrimonious departure from the band, launching his own new group called K.K.’s Priest last year. Halford says everyone is welcome to be part of the induction, and he feels any animosities can be set aside for the occasion.

“They have every right to be a part of the event,” he said. “I’m very pleased for everybody. There’s no bitterness. There’s no angst. There’s not that kind of stuff that’s lingering. If there is you have to push all that away. You have to push it to the side and just understand and accept and respect this wonderful opportunity and what it represents in terms of recognition and a celebration.” He expects that Tipton — who’s battling Parkinson’s disease but was on the road playing during the encores of Priest’s latest North American tour — to attend the ceremony in November. And Halford is also looking forward to hanging out with Eurythmics, who Priest shared management and booking agencies with back when Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were in their previous band, The Tourists.

Can we expect a special Metal God tuxedo that night, too? “I don’t know!” Halford said with a laugh. “When the office told me I went, ‘Omigod, I haven’t got a thing to wear!’ — like, gay drama. That’s the first thing — ‘What am I gonna put on?! Do I have to put on something for dinner? Do they serve dinner? Where do I go after? Do I have to dress just for press?’ It’s a big diva moment. I’ll be doing my three or four costume changes before I get in the building.”

Halford and Priest have plenty going on before the induction ceremony, however. The group will be touring in Europe during the spring and summer and is planning another and probably final North American leg of its continuing 50th anniversary tour during the fall. On Nov. 1, meanwhile, Halford will publish a new book, Biblical: Rob Halford’s Heavy Metal Scriptures, a follow-up to his 2020 memoir Confess. And Priest continues “chipping away” at a new album, the successor to 2018’s Firepower.

“We get a note here, a note there,” Halford says. “I got another song sent to me the other day that Richie (Faulkner)’s flying in his guitar parts for, and it sounds phenomenal. So I’m just every excited — the shows, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Work is great. I’m always looking ahead. I’ve loved the past. I love everything we’ve made happen. It’s full of metal memories, but we’re always searching for the next great metal opportunity.”

For Judas Priest Third Time’s a Charm For Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: ‘That’s the Blessing We’ve All Been Waiting For’ Back in February, when Judas Priest‘s third nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was announced, frontman Rob Halford told Billboard that, “I must do a duet with Dolly Parton! … If…