JUDAS PRIEST's ROB HALFORD: 'You've Gotta Let Young People Find Their Own Way In Life'

May 13, 2024

Back in the mid-1980s, the PMRC (Parents' Music Resource Center) published a list called "The Filthy Fifteen" which consisted of the top fifteen songs they wanted banned due to objectionable lyrics suggesting violence, sex, drugs, alcohol or the occult. They petitioned for lyrics to be printed on the album jackets and no one was safe — heavy metal acts were right there alongside the pop stars. AC/DC, Madonna, MÖTLEY CRÜE, JUDAS PRIEST, Prince, W.A.S.P., MERCYFUL FATE, Vanity, DEF LEPPARD, Cyndi Lauper and TWISTED SISTER all made "The Filthy Fifteen" list. In November 1985, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association Of America) agreed to put "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics" labels on selected releases at their own discretion.

Speaking to "That Fuzzing Rock Show" on the 93.9 WABY radio station, PRIEST singer Rob Halford reflected on the PMRC and the parallels between what was going on 40 years ago and today's so-called "cancel culture", particularly as it relates to younger people getting harassed online to an extreme over a mistake they've made. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I don't know where to begin on this. You've gotta let young people be who they are. You've gotta let young people find their own way in life. It's a weird thing because this cancellation thing, it's not as big as it is. A lot of it is just blown out of proportion. It's clickbait. It's news, it's not news, it's news, it's not news. Most young people are beautiful, kind, living their lives, trying to get ahead. And then there's this other social media, TMZ bubble that's just raging off in the corner, and you can tune in or tune out to that type of thing.

"But, yeah, when we went through that experience with the PMRC, it was tough because it was backed by very powerful political figures in Washington, D.C.," he explained. "Straight off, this was just a political hack job. These people had no clue about heavy metal. They had no clue about the joy and the pleasure and the good times that heavy metal music gives to people and the goodness that it makes and the positivity. They just went at it with a hatchet. And I love my friend Dee Snider [from TWISTED SISTER, who, along with Frank Zappa and John Denver, was called before Congress to testify in defense of music], 'cause he went in there and did a great job. So, yeah, it's not new on us. As you get older, you get wiser, don't you? And you figure out what's important and what's not important. What I do think is unfair, particularly for younger people, is that younger people are so inexperienced, to a great extent, on how to deal with their feelings and how to deal with being bullied and attacked on social media. And it can be very damaging."

In 2015, Halford was asked by Canada's C103 radio station what it was like to have the JUDAS PRIEST track "Eat Me Alive" included in "The Filthy Fifteen". He responded: "It was kind of tough, because we got attacked for something that was completely out of order. None of us that are on that list should have been there, because when you come see a band like PRIEST or my mate Dee from TWISTED SISTER, we wanna give you a good time, we wanna help you forget all the troubles and the worries in the world. We want you to come and enjoy yourself, have a few drinks, meet your mates, have a great metal experience, rock and roll experience. So, to be accused of that was pretty low, but we got through it and we battled on, and I think we had a win for everybody in that respect."

Halford also talked about the way society had become, in his view, too politically correct. He said: "Well, again, I could talk forever on that subject. You know, yeah, I think we need to kind of give each other a break and kind of take a long, deep breath and let it out very slowly, because it seems the only way people can get attention in these times is to scream as loud as they possibly can and to say the most outrageous things they possibly can. So it's a pity, really. It's a different world from when I was growing up as a kid. But, hey, that's the way humanity is evolving, unfortunately. And it's not just in the States; it's everywhere. There's this crazy cacophony going on. But leave all that stuff to the politicians and to all the… The kind of noise that we make in metal is the best noise you can get — plain and simple."

JUDAS PRIEST kicked off the U.S. leg of the "Invincible Shield" world tour on April 18 at Toyota Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford, Connecticut.

JUDAS PRIEST's latest album, "Invincible Shield", entered the U.K. chart at No. 2, just behind Ariana Grande's "Eternal Sunshine".

Prior to "Invincible Shield"'s arrival, PRIEST's highest U.K. chart achievement was with 1980's "British Steel", which reached No. 4.

PRIEST's 2018 album "Firepower" entered the chart at No. 5.

"Invincible Shield" is JUDAS PRIEST's fifth Top 10 album, after the aforementioned "British Steel" and "Firepower", as well as 2014's "Redeemer Of Souls" (No. 6) and the 1979 live album "Unleashed In The East" (No. 10).

"Invincible Shield" landed at No. 1 in Germany, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as No. 5 in France, No. 8 in Italy and No. 16 in Australia.

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