Rob Halford recalls writing a "really intimate and personal letter" as way of rekindling his relationship with his former bandmates, following his departure from Judas Priest almost a decade previous.
At the time, Halford was on hiatus after leaving the band in 1992 to pursue life temporarily as a solo artist, however later stories would see the singer claim to have never wanted to have left at all. Although his exit was agreed with the rest of Priest on good terms, a number of allegations in later years would suggest that there was more to the story, and that their manager, wasn't entirely thrilled with Halford's desire to work on other projects.
As detailed in his autobiography, Confess, Halford explained earlier this year in an interview with Heavy1 that his departure transpired simply due to a "communication breakdown" within the band.
Now, in a recent interview with Metal Hammer, Halford reflects on re-joining Priest in 2003, and reveals that to reach out to the group, he found himself "pouring his heart out" into a letter, which saw him noting how he missed his bandmates.
"Now I don’t remember the first show back with Priest, I am sure you can find it, I’ll have to go on the internet and find out, but whenever it was, it felt perfectly natural and normal to be in that spot again. Felt as though I’d never been away" the Metal God explains. "I was living in San Diego at the time, and I really missed the band, so I went to a coffee shop, and, people don’t write letters anymore, it’s all emails, but I went into the coffee shop and bought a cup of coffee, sat outside with some blue paper and a blue envelope and poured my heart out into what was six, seven or eight pages of where I was at and what I was feeling.
"How much I missed the band, you know. It was a really intimate and personal letter. So, I sent that off to Trinifold, our management people, and just let it go. I just thought ‘Let’s see what happens’, but at least I had got it out of my soul, out of my system" he continues.
"It’s really damaging if you hold things in, it’s damaging to your mental health, you’ve got to find a way to bring those things out, so I poured my heart and soul into this letter. I found out later that this was all part of the journey back, because the guys all read the letter and they said ‘Let’s do it.’."
Noting the moment where it was finally confirmed that he would be returning as Priest's frontman, Halford explains the meeting initially took place to discuss the Metalogy box set that was due to come out at the time.
"We all just talked about the box set, you know, and this, that and the other. Which is ironic as we have this 50th anniversary box set coming out right now. We talked about this song, and that song, and the artwork, and blah, blah, blah, and the final question was ‘So... are you coming back?’, ‘Yeah, I’m back’, ‘Okay, good.’ and everybody left!
"And I was just left in my kitchen going ‘Gosh! I’m back in Priest!’, which is so... it was so British, you know. You know how blokes can be, you know, don’t make a fuss... it was so blokey!
"But it was beautiful, you know, I felt like I just wanted to go out into the streets in Walsall and scream ‘I’m back in Priest! I’m back in Priest!’. For me it was a very emotional thing, that’s how it is in bands, you’re like family, but I was back and the rest is history!"
Speaking of Judas Priest's 50th anniversary, which is being commemorated this year with a mammoth tour, the Reflections - 50 Heavy Metal Years Of Music LP and a huge box set, the frontman muses, "I’m just proud, that’s the word. I’m really, really proud of what we’ve done as a band. What we’ve done for British metal, and for the metal worldwide. To be there from the very, very beginning is extraordinary, you don’t get to see that much, you don’t get to see the band that was the first blues band, or the band that was the first jazz band, you can’t see the first classical musician, they’re all gone. But you can see Judas Priest and go ‘They are some of the guys who started this genre’, you know.
"And when you think of all the thousands of shows and all the millions of miles, the places we’ve been to in the world and the fact that we’re still doing it... the fact that we are still doing it is the thing for me, we’re still a working band. I’ve just turned 70 and most blokes my age have got their feet up, pottering around the garden, maybe I'll do that one day, but I haven’t got time for it right now.
"It’s a great place to be, and to put FIVE ZERO with it, that puts a little bit more into perspective when you see 50 Heavy Metal Years, like here in this photobook and boxset. I can fathom it, but this gives it something you can touch... 50 years! Can you see it now?! It’s something quantifiable. It’s a really beautiful place to be."
Judas Priest's 50 Heavy Metal Years Of Music box set (opens in new tab) is available to purchase now. It includes three previously-unreleased original 24 track live recordings, a further five unheard live stereo recordings from the archives, CD’s re-mastered from the original audio by Alex Wharton at Abbey Road Studios, London, CDs housed in mini LP Japanese-style wallets, photos by Ross Halfin signed by each band member, a numbered British Steel metal razor blade, a memorabilia book featuring rare photos, posters, adverts and passes, and so much more.