My lovely and amazing wife bought me this book as an early Christmas present, and I stormed through it in record time. For those of you who don’t know who Rob Halford is, he is the lead singer with the British Heavy Metal group Judas Priest and trademarked ‘Metal God’. Growing up I was very much into Heavy Metal, specifically Iron Maiden, Saxon and Motorhead, and while Judas Priest were always around there was only so many albums I could buy with my limited pocket money. I do remember picking up a couple of their earlier records second hand and if I’m brutally honest I wasn’t overly impressed. Teenagers can be fickle, and I recall that I didn’t think too much of the earlier stuff by Thin Lizzy either. Until the release of the 1990 album Painkiller I had thought that Judas Priest were a very good ‘best of’ group, much like AC/DC, where you wouldn’t often want to listen to a whole album. For me Painkiller is by far the best Judas Priest album, and unfortunately was the last one to feature Rob Halford for 15 years. Very scary to think that it was released 30 years ago.
Confess obviously begins with Rob growing up in Walsall, but doesn’t dwell too long on his upbringing, although he knew from a very early age that he was gay. Rob remained in the closet until the 1990’s even though the rest of the band knew, but often pretended not to know. The 2001 film Rock Star with Mark wahlberg suggested that Rob Halford was fired from Judas Priest for being gay, which wasn’t true. As for leaving the band, Rob only wanted to do the odd solo project, but miscommunication meant that he resigned from the band and ended up being replaced by a tribute band singer.
The book is highly entertaining, even for non heavy metal fans, and Rob is very honest about his problems with drink and drugs, the suicide of a partner, the arrests for ‘cruising’ and how happy he is with his current and long term partner. He also discusses the MTV interview in 1998 where he came out, and how it wasn’t planned but that it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders, and how by and large, most fans have been supportive. Rob also went into rehab for a month, and he hasn’t touched alcohol or drugs for the last 34 years, which is very commendable and a welcome change from other biographies that I’ve read recently where they are in and out of rehab a dozen times. The notorious court case where the band were sued for having hidden satanic lyrics on their albums is also written about.
Anyway, I absolutely loved this autobiography and gave it 5 out of 5 on Goodreads, and looking through other reviews almost everyone agrees. Not just a book for heavy metal fans.