The future Metal God was raised in the West Midlands, England, town of Walsall; by 1973, he already had experience fronting a band. His sister’s boyfriend, Ian Hill, needed a new singer for his band, which was located in nearby West Bromwich. Judas Priest soon signed with Gull Records, which released their debut LP, Rocka Rolla, in 1974.
The band took a few years to find its commercial footing, but by the ’80s Judas Priest were at the forefront of metal, releasing a string of classic albums like British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance and Defenders of the Faith. Those records were marked by Halford’s stratospheric vocals, while his biker image, complete with an onstage Harley-Davidson, helped define the genre’s style.
It was during this period that Halford acquired the nickname “Metal God.” It became so closely associated with him that he eventually trademarked it. But he admitted it was less about ego and more about celebrating fans. “I would never put myself on that pedestal,” he said. “That’s the title the fans started to give me after the famous British Steel album, where we had ‘Breaking the Law’ and ‘Living After Midnight.’ … It’s something I really cherish, and I don’t want anybody else to be the Metal God but me.”
After 1991’s Painkiller, Halford left Judas Priest, pursuing other musical interests in the bands Fight, 2wo and the self-named Halford over the next decade. In 2003, the two parties patched things up, and Angel of Retribution arrived two years later. Since then, they’ve continued to record and tour regularly.