Rob Halford still pushing limits as lead singer of Judas Priest, rocking stage this weekend

And now: Three quickies with Rob Halford, the most hard-charging, intellectual gay metal rocker of all time.

1. THE HARD-CHARGER

In 1991, Halford drove his Harley-Davidson onstage in Toronto, hit the drum riser, broke his nose, then got up and performed a whole concert.

Last month in Brazil, he drove his Harley onstage while pyrotechnics shot around him. He hurtled his motorcycle into a large stack of speaker monitors. The Harley landed on him. Then he got up and sang a whole concert.

Rob Halford is unfazed, because Rob Halford laughs in the face of death.

“It’s my latest contribution to YouTube,” he says in his British accent and laughs.

Brazil was the latest time he almost died.

There was also the time Judas Priest was driving in a car to Newcastle for a show and their car spun out of control on the icy motorways of England.

And there have been a handful of emergency landings in airplanes, plus tour bus incidents, he says.

“You know those images that flash before your eyes? I can see several of those in the life of Judas Priest,” he says calmly.

“In rock ‘n’ roll, you definitely are pushing the limits when it comes to the excesses of travel. But as long as you’re alive at the end of the show, that’s all that matters.”

2. THE INTELLECTUAL

Halford has never backed down from rock.

In 1990, Judas Priest was infamously sued by parents in Sparks who claimed their children, ages 18 and 20, killed themselves after listening to Judas Priest. That lawsuit was dismissed.

Halford says people still need to buck up against puritan scapegoaters.

“The latest ridiculous thing I read about was ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ apparently ‘distorting and morally twisting the minds of children,’ ” he says and laughs again.

“It’s a cartoon, for God’s sake!” he says. “A cartoon hasn’t made anybody kill themselves. A piece of music hasn’t made anybody kill themselves. A movie hasn’t made anybody kill themselves.”

Halford asserts that when young people behave badly or sadly, it’s usually associated with their “malfunctioning family background,” with mental or physical abuse or drug and alcohol abuse.

“People are very susceptible to pointing the finger and laying the blame onto an outside source of their own creation,” he says of bad parents.

Scapegoats who are blamed falsely must stand up and defend themselves, he says.

“The world has never been in the best of shape. There are still millions of people that go to bed at night who are starving because they have no food in their belly, or shoes on their feet,” he says.

“So let’s get our priorities sorted out, please.”

3. THE GAY METAL ROCKER

He is gay, yet some women still tell him they want to jump his bones.

“Even though I’m a gay man, they still try to do that. God bless my female fans!”

When, in 1998, he revealed he was gay, it seemed to him that everyone was supportive.

“It just showed intelligence and compassion” on behalf of fans, he says.

If he had come out 15 years earlier, he’s certain there would have been more of an anti-gay backlash.

“I couldn’t have done it in the ’80s, no way — even though a lot of bands were dressing like women onstage. That was perfectly acceptable. But if they had been gay at the same time, whoa, (society) would not have coped with that.”

Today, it’s easier to be publicly out, but gay kids still need to be told it’s OK to be gay, he says, since some commit suicide after dealing with anti-gay forces.

“The only way you can stop that type of occurrence is to get the word out: It’s OK to be who you are. Don’t think about what anybody else thinks about you. You are you. Believe in yourself. There are people who love you for who you are and accept you for who you are.”

And those people that don’t accept gay people? They don’t need to be in your life, he says.

Rob Halford does not put up with people who don’t put up with him.

Doug Elfman’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Contact him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

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