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Judas Priest's Rob Halford on alcohol: "I was bad to people... I don't wanna feel that way again"

Rob Halford
(Image credit: Martin Philbey/Redferns)

Judas Priest's Rob Halford, who will be celebrating his 36th year sober on Thursday (December 6), has revealed that despite not drinking alcohol since 1986, it still has a constant presence within his life.

Speaking to Spain's Mariskal Rock (opens in new tab), he explains "I think about it all the time. It's an addiction. When I'm watching the Phoenix Cardinals play on TV the other day, there's constantly adverts for beer and for alcohol and stuff. And I know it's there. And it's a temptation.

"So you have to have all of the mental tools ready to get you through that instance. 'Cause it's all about instances. And I live one day at a time. I've lived one day at a time for 35 years now. And that's all that matters. It's the moment. You live in the moment — not yesterday, not tomorrow; it's now.

"And you have to be ready for when that little beer devil comes on your shoulder and goes, 'Come on, Rob. Have a little drink of beer.' 'Fuck off.' [Laughs] Because I don't wanna feel that way again, man. I don't want to be that person. I was miserable. I wasn't happy. I was bad to people. I don't wanna go through that again. So that's also part of my finding a balance in my day-to-day life."

Halford has vocalised his journey with sobriety numerous times in the past. In 2020, he spoke about how he manages to stay off the drink while touring on the road – an environment famous for non-sober shenanigans. Talking on the Across The Board podcast, the singer said at the time: "It's not easy. It's very much a day at a time. You're given all the tools and resources from your rehab experience. I use 'em every day. A lot of it is just like mental notes — talking things through.

"Sometimes I speak 'em out; a lot of it is internal. So that's really vital on a day-to-day level of sobriety."

He continued: "When I was in rehab [in 1986], there's anonymity in rehab, but at the same time, you have to tell everybody your life story, so everybody knew what I did. And I remember we talked about the fact that I'm gonna go back to this world of sex and drugs and rock and roll and booze.

"I don't know how I'm gonna be able to cope, because it won't be a gradual re-immersion into society, so to speak. I won't be able to go tiny steps; I'm just gonna go straight into the deep end. I cannot go to work and say to my bandmates, 'You can't drink. You can't do this. You can't do that,' because it's control. Accept your powerlessness.

"I don't think we ever in the band had a sit-down conversation about this, but I think that there was caring and understanding — as there still is," Halford added. "But I'd be the last person to say that I have to set a set of rules, because then this whole business of living my life on my terms [turns into something] you push on to other people: 'Well, now, you can't do this,' 'You can't do that.' That's just hypocrisy on the highest level.

"Even now, when we're flying after a show, and the guys are having a beer or a cocktail or whatever, man, I would love that cold beer. I would love a slug of Jack and Coke. I can smell it, 'cause we're in a plane together. It's like this little angel on one side and the devil on the other side. My instant thought is I never wanna be sick again. I never, ever wanna feel that bad ever again. I never want to be in that terrible, dark, lonely place ever again. So it's fleeting. But, again, it's always there.

Listen to the full episode below:

Liz Scarlett
Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music. '10 bands that rip off Black Sabbath but get away with it' is her favourite article she's written with Louder so far. When not writing, Liz enjoys various creative endeavours such as graphic design, as well as reading about rock’n’roll history, art and magic.