Judas Priest are going into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, but not in the way that many feel they should be. The band is being inducted with the Musical Excellence award, which is presented to “artists, musicians, songwriters and producers whose originality and influence creating music have had a dramatic impact on music.” While singer Rob Halford has very much said all the right things in celebrating the band’s induction, in a recent interview with AZCentral, he revealed some mixed feelings about how the band is going in.
This was the third time the band had been on the ballot for possible induction. The previous two times they received a ballot cast from the “fan vote” for the Rock Hall, but just finished outside the Top 5 of voting this year. All three times they came up short in the overall Rock Hall member voting for induction. When the final inductees were announced earlier this year, Judas Priest were among the names called, but they were going in as one of the acts inducted with the Musical Excellence award.
Back in May, Halford joked with Billboard, stating, “All I want is a selfie with Dolly Parton,” before then going on to comment about being included among an “absolutely extraordinary” group of talented acts in the Rock Hall.
But when pressed about his true feelings on how the band was going in to the Rock Hall, Halford told AZ Central, “Why haven’t they given us the the same title as all of our friends. Black Sabbath, for example. There’s a different tag, isn’t there?”
He then added of his initial reaction, “Well, yeah, I was pissed. I was a bit pissed. At the end of the day, does it matter? Some days, I go, ‘No, it doesn’t matter. We’re in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Be grateful. Shut the hell up.’ And then there are other days where I’m like, ‘God damn, why did they give us the Musical Excellence Award?’ Because it sounds very, you know, grandiose. ‘The Musical Excellence Award, reserved for blah, blah, blah.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, but I want to be with that bunch of musicians over there that have got the performance or whatever it is that they’ve got.’ I don’t know why they gave us the Musical Excellence Award. I have no clue.”
He added, “I just felt a little bit like, ‘Well, Sabbath got this. So why can’t we have that?’ Not that I’m jealous of Sabbath. I’m just talking about this tag that they give it. Why do they put these tags on the damn thing? Why don’t they go, ‘Welcome. You’re in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’ and leave it at that.”
He then addressed the fan reaction, recalling, “A lot of our fans went, ‘What the hell?’ ‘Oh, you know, they’re a great band. They are an excellent band.’ ‘But why put the musical excellence? Why don’t you give them like everybody else has got?’ … It’s as though we got this far. We’re, like, one step away, you know? I know it’s silly, but it’s just frustrating.” Halford concluded that he feels they are still the “Rodney Dangerfield of heavy metal,” adding that they “can’t get no respect.”
That said, Halford is happy to see Judas Priest inducted as it is another metal act going in where the genre’s representation has been somewhat lacking. “We want to get more of this kind of recognition in the Rock Hall, because there’s just a very limited supply of this style of very important, powerful, potent music that for a long time was overlooked and was marginalized and pushed to the side,” he explained. “So if we do get it in, I think that’s great. And not only for Priest, but for metal, for our fans, for everybody that works with us. It’s a celebration and I hope we’ll be able to celebrate for real this time.”
When Judas Priest goes into the Rock Hall, the band confirmed in May that they will do so with guitarist K.K. Downing. Downing exited the group in 2011, citing a breakdown of the relationships in the band and with management. In recent years, he’s been critical of the band’s choice not to reach out to him to return. In addition to Downing, former members Les Binks and Dave Holland will be inducted alongside Halford, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill and Scott Travis.
Other 2022 Rock Hall inductees include Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo, Duran Duran, Eminem, Eurythmics, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie and Carly Simon. Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis will also receive the 2022 Musical Excellence Award. The ceremony will take place Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
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