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Judas Priest's Rob Halford opens up on cancer battle, urges older fans to get checked

Judas Priest's Rob Halford
(Image credit: Martin Philbey/Redferns)

Judas Priest's Rob Halford has reflected on his cancer battle, from which he is now in remission. The Metal God was diagnosed with the condition in 2017, and took last year's lockdown as time to fully recover. In a new interview with Mariskal Rock, Halford details his decision to make his health status public and offers important advice to fans of "a certain age". 

"It's in remission. I count my blessings — thanks to God. It was a time when… You know, timing is everything in rock and roll and heavy metal. And, of course, this was going on during the pandemic — the initial stages of the pandemic — so the world was completely closed down.

"Priest would have been on a bit of a hiatus anyway, because we had just been around the world three times with [Priest's latest album] Firepower, so we were gonna be on a kind of a break although we were writing for the new album.

"And so I was able to take care of three things, really — promote [my autobiography] Confess, do some writing with the band before I came back [home] to Phoenix, and then get this cancer business sorted out."

The paperback edition of Halford's memoir, Confess, has since been updated with a new chapter that includes details of his diagnosis and subsequent treatment. He continues, "It's just a miracle what they can do with health care these days; it's absolutely remarkable. So in my story, my main message is to guys everywhere around the world, when you get to a certain age, it's very important that you get your prostate checked, your bloodwork checked, get a colonoscopy.

"It's all these things that old blokes like me go, 'Wait, wait, wait.' That's the worst thing to do. So that was part of the reason I wanted to push the message out. And the fact that it's been out for a while anyway — it's been out since last September in the final edition of the Confess paperback — so it was gonna surface anyway."

While expressing his admiration for medical professionals, Halford also reflects on bandmate Richie Faulkner's recent health scare. In late September, the guitarist suffered an acute cardiac aortic dissection during the band's performance at the Louder Than Life festival in Kentucky. Faulkner underwent 10 hours of “major emergency heart surgery” to stabilise his condition.

Halford recalls, "Along with my issues and just talking about the way that incredible things have happened in my lifetime with medical science especially, when you think about what Richie has just been through recently and the miracle doctors, surgeons, nurses, everybody that have brought him back to us, these people are just unbelievable.

"Everything's relative in life. And you never get through life by yourself; you've always got people with you helping you along the way. The fans have helped Priest along the way for our entire 50 years. And in other areas of your life, particularly with your health, people are there ready to help, people are there ready to fix you, to get you released for the road again and do all the things that you wanna do.

"So, yeah, I feel good," Halford added. "I feel positive. Richie feels good. He feels positive. I spoke with him just a couple of days ago. He sounded great on the phone. We had a long chat about the tour and all the things we've gotta' do still with Priest. The journey never ends."

Listen to the full interview 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.