Judas Priest‘s Rob Halford is the undeniable Metal God. The legendary frontman is the complete package — a pioneer of early metal singing with those trademark high shrieks and has served as the be-all-end-all heavy metal fashionista, likely spending more time in studded leather than any other person in human history. So, in celebration of his 69th birthday, we look back at all the various eras of Rob Halford’s image in this photo series.
Born Robert John Arthur Halford on Aug. 25 in Sutton Coldfield, England, the would-be metal legend grew up in nearby Walsall, and it’s certain more details of his early life will be depicted in the upcoming Confess autobiography.
Prior to joining Judas Priest, Halford worked as a manager at a porn cinema before being introduced to bassist Ian Hill. Hill was dating Halford’s sister Sue at the time, whom he married in 1976 and later divorced in 1984. Halford had previously sung in the rock group Hiroshima.
As the singer of Judas Priest, Halford’s dynamic range played a crucial role through the ’70s and ultimately was a major influence on metal singers of the following decade, who also explored the peaks and valleys of their voices, attempting maddening falsetto screams alongside gritty, edgier mid-range snarls.
The studded leather imagery popularized by Judas Priest came to define metal, which now had a badass look to go with this increasingly aggressive style of music.
After leaving Judas Priest in 1992, Halford would go on to pursue three different projects before returning to his throne in Priest in 2003 — Fight, 2wo and the Halford solo band. It was during this time that the singer’s image conformed to current standards, but his return to heavy metal also saw the return of his signature look, draped in all sorts of denim, leather and studs.
Then there’s the hair — oh, the hair! Before electing to just shave it all and be done with it circa Painkiller, the Metal God mostly defied the standard long hair (which he sported in the mid-’70s) and favored short, cropped styles, though some length did return, albeit slicked back, in the mid-to-late ’80s.
Now, take a tour through the years as we look back on the legacy of the one true Metal God.
Photos: Judas Priest’s Rob Halford Through the Years