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Rob Halford - Confess - a book review

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I just finished reading the confessions of a man who’s been my inspiration for the last 30 years. I’m talking about Rob Halford and his book called simply - Confess. That’s gonna be one bloody subjective review, so bear with me.

Attention, spoilers ahead!

Before I start reading the book, I knew a couple of things about the “Metal God”. Well, I knew more than a few things about him but that’s not the point. I knew he’s the voice of Judas Priest, he has a passion for words, heavy metal music and leather clothes. And he is gay. Always been. Walked out of the closet in 1998 and his courage pushed others to do the same.

I also knew he’s from a Black Country area in the UK, a small town called Walsall. A town I’ve been calling home for two years now. But seeing the city centre in 2020, walking the paths of Arboretum park last year has nothing to do with the description of this town as it appeared back in the ’60s or the ‘70s. Rob Halford pictures it and he does a hell of a job. First, we see the polluted streets through the eyes of a child scared to cross a dark bridge, coughing in his way to school. We see his mom struggling to wash white clothes and keep them white while drying them outside in the black mist and windy weather.

Then we see a teenager scared of growing up and being forced to work for a lifetime trapped inside a factory that produced pig iron. We see a boy becoming aware of his sexual nature and having no access to information whatsoever. He had to learn it the hard way.

And the story goes on. With the time spent at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton as a stage assistant where he learnt about shows, actors and the life behind the scene. Tasting a kind of a date-rape-drug and… you’ll have read by yourself and see what happened.

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This confused and fearful bloke found relief in drinking to oblivion in a bar called Dirty Duck. Couple of wines with a Mogadon on top, that is. The knock-out recipe.

Closed in 2007, the building I’ve passed by hundred of times resembles a ruin and kept nothing of the old sign boards. I found only two pictures of the former pub, one taken in 1968, the other in 1972. I don’t know who owns that place, but I would put a blue round plate on it saying “The Metal God used to get hammered here before he knew he was a god”. Don’t ask about copyrights, I know shit about them.

Then Judas Priest happened. You’ll read about the band’s first days and local shows. People they met, places they’ve been. The financial struggle and the impros. TV show on British telly where they appeared dressed as kicked out from a British Foundation Store. None of them had a clue on what they should wear and they didn’t coordinate their look.

So, Rob Halford “rummaged through Sue’s clothes” - his sister - “and borrowed a pleated pink blouse with a belt, which I wore with a pair of spangly black flares. I looked like Jim Morrison on a budget”. The others didn’t look much better. But the song… hell, I still listen to “Dreamer Deceiver” today.

Think it's funny? Well, this is the book’s bright side. The rage, the helplessness, the hate of being the way he was grew stronger each year. And it transcended in so many lyrics I won’t even mention here. Let’s just say I’ll never listen to “Eat me alive” with the same thoughts again.

I ain’t gonna tell the whole book. It’s up to you if you want to read more. I’ll just say that I’ve learnt many things about their “yam-yam accent” and I don’t blame myself anymore for not understanding my neighbours completely. Neither did the Americans.

Beyond the story of a successful band, there is the tale of one tough, stubborn, upright British bloke with a fantastic voice and his life-journey in searching for peace of mind.

Mr Robert John Arthur Halford, you’ll probably never read this, but I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your life with us.

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