LGBTQ+ Icons: Rob Halford

Every Friday this LGBTQ+ history month will see us look at and celebrate an iconic LGBTQ+ musician. Our first featured person is the man dubbed as the "Metal God", Rob Halford.

Born in Sutton Coldfield on 25th August 1951, Robert John Arthur Halford joined Judas Priest in 1973 and with them, he would quickly become a pioneer of heavy metal. Though not the first heavy metal band the world had ever seen (beaten by fellow Brummies Black Sabbath), Priest engineered a different form of metal which was characterised by speed, twin guitars and melody.

But it wasn't just the style of the music that changed metal; Halford's vocals also set a new precedent. Whilst Ozzy Osbourne before him filled his vocal lines with dread and doom, Halford was much more melodic and, at times, operatic. Along with contemporaries such as Ronnie James Dio and Bruce Dickinson, Halford helped to influence the vocal style of later metal bands, a style often heard today in Power Metal with the likes of Dragonforce, Sabaton and Beast in Black.

His vocal style was also eclectic. Priest's 1980 hit 'Breaking the Law' saw him adopt a very laid-back style, using only his natural voice and keeping it very simple, hardly requiring any effort from the talented singer. However, on the other end of the scale is 'Painkiller', in which every single member of Priest unleashed their full power, with Halford being no exception. His high screeching vocals on the song truly showcase his range and ability to tear into the high notes without losing any power. It's a shattering performance that shakes you to your very core and certainly one of Halford's most impressive moments.

Not content with just influencing the music, Halford is also credited with introducing the leather-clad look which later became commonplace amongst metal musicians, setting the scene for the future generations. We're talking the iconic all-black look of jacket, studded belt and wristbands and chains. It quickly became adopted by metal musicians globally with the clothing of choice either being denim or leather. The denim came first but the leather was Halford.