Alcohol and drugs are essentially synonymous with the world of rock ‘n’ roll. This was especially true for bands coming up in the 1970s, a time when drugs were pervasive in the music scene. The effects that substances had on rockstars of those days are more than evident. Thankfully, many of them have since left drugs and alcohol behind, opting for life in recovery instead.
Rob Halford of Judas Priest is no exception. The heavy metal band’s lead vocalist has a difficult past and used alcohol, prescription pills, and other drugs to mask the pain. He spent his first 15 years as the frontman of Judas Priest entrenched in the booze-fueled segment of the metal music world. However, once he was “sick and tired of feeling sick and tired,” he decided to enter a rehab facility and change direction in life.
January 6th, 1986 is Halford’s sobriety date, meaning he just reached an incredible 36 years of sobriety. He marked the occasion with a post on his Instagram account, showcasing his silver recovery coin emblazoned with the Roman numeral XXXVI. “One day at a time 36 years ago, thank you for your love, it means the world to me,” wrote Halford, expressing gratitude for his family, friends, and fans.
He’s sat for numerous interviews and been a guest on various podcasts throughout the years, discussing his experience with recovery. Halford never holds back from sharing his dedication to the motto of “One day at a time.” After all, living life surrounded by substances while trying to stay dedicated to a life of recovery requires taking each moment as it comes.
During an interview with Mariskal Rock, Halford explained, “I’ve lived one day at a time for 36 years now. And that’s all that matters. It’s the moment. You live in the moment – not yesterday, not tomorrow; it’s now.”
It wasn’t this simple when he first began his recovery journey.
Halford remembers his time in rehab, reflecting on his fear of returning to the heavy metal scene. He recalls sharing with his fellows in the facility, “I don’t know how I’m gonna be able to cope, because it won’t be a gradual reimmersion into society…I won’t be able to go tiny steps; I’m just gonna go straight into the deep end.”
Imagine the difficulty of trying to stay sober while going on worldwide tours with bandmates who continued to drink and use drugs. At the same time, he understood that he couldn’t tell his fellow members of the band what to do. “I [couldn’t] 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.”
But that didn’t mean they weren’t accepting or supportive of his changes either. Halford explains that all the members of Judas Priest have been caring and understanding from the start. He simply realizes that it’s not his place to establish a set of rules for others because he chooses to live his life differently.
His first sober show with Judas Priest took place in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As he told Classic Rock Revisited, “I literally felt elevated, as everything was coming with such clarity. I was able to really…enjoy the performance of Judas Priest without having all of the other things in front of it. Since that day, it has been a miracle.”
To this day, Halford remains committed to his sobriety and hasn’t had a slip since the day he decided to accept help. He credits his belief in a higher power as the main source of his success in recovery. Halford isn’t too shy to admit that he relies heavily on prayer. He is adamant about its importance in his life.
“I always say to people, if you’re thinking about it, the simplest thing I do is pray. I pray quite a bit, actually. And even if you don’t believe in prayer, just have a go,” he said as a guest on The Jasta Show, “And now I’m sounding like [the American Christian evangelist] Billy Graham, but I’m just trying to express some of the things that are important to me on a day to day basis that make me able to walk out on that stage each night and do my work.”
Halford’s 36 years are an incredible accomplishment and his sobriety no doubt serves as an example that recovery is possible for anyone, anywhere. Congratulations, Rob.