“I have fond memories of sitting on Lemmy‘s lap after he’d come offstage, with his hair in a white towel turban”: Rob Halford says Judas Priest‘s new album has a tribute to Lemmy and Ronnie James Dio

Photos of Judas Priest’s Rob Halford and Motorhead’s Lemmy
(Image credit: Press/Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)

Rob Halford says Judas Priest pay tribute to Lemmy and Ronnie James Dio on their new album, Invincible Shield.

Speaking in the brand new issue of Classic Rock magazine, the Priest singer says that the album’s closing track, Giants In The Sky, is a hymn to the music he has loved over the years, and the people who made it.

“Listening to music makes me think about all these beautiful people we’ve lost in rock’n’roll, from Janis Joplin to Ronnie James Dio to Lemmy. But also about the fact that music lives forever.”

Asked for his favourite memory of both singers, Halford says: “Ronnie was an extraordinary man. hHe was very friendly, very affable, he liked to laugh, he didn’t put anyone down. But he was very serious about his music. When we did the Hear N’ Aid thing [the all-star heavy metal charity single released in 1986], all those people in that room looked up to Ronnie. Whatever he suggested, everybody listened.

He continues: “And I have fond memories of sitting on Lemmy‘s lap after he’d just come offstage, with his hair in a white towel turban. I’m giving him a hug, and he’s sweating all over the place.”

Halford adds that, despite his own success, he was overawed by both men. “I felt a little bit intimidated in Ronnie’s presence and in Lemmy’s presence,” he tells Classic Rock. “Just because of the strength of their personality and their character. I felt I was a step back from them. They were giants, I was just an admirer.”

Invincible Shield is the first Priest album since 2018’s acclaimed Firepower. It’s been trailed by four tracks from the album: Panic Attack, Trial By Fire, The Serpent And The King and Crown Of Horns.

“I was thinking about the Ukraine, about standing up for yourself in the face of something horrible,” he says of the latter song. “And it made me think about what’s going on with those poor souls, and the Russians who have been dragged into it. The lyric, ‘A call out to the world tonight/Raise your horns up high”, that’s about collective unity. That’s the metal community as well. We’re all in it together. We’re all in it to win it.”

Halford also reveals that the band are looking beyond the release of Invincible Shield towards a possible follow-up.

“This is the 19th studio album,” he says. “I don’t like odd numbers. Even if I’m turning the volume up on the telly, it can’t be 13 – it has to be 12 or 14. Even numbers are balance and harmony.

“We’re already thinking about what we’re going to do next. That’s the joy of music. It never stops.”

Read the full interview in the brand new issue of Classic Rock, featuring Queen on the cover. Order it online and have it delivered straight to your door.


Classic Rock 325 - front cover

(Image credit: Future)
Classic Rock

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