So, How Was Your 2020? is a series in which our favorite entertainers answer our questionnaire about the music, culture and memorable moments that shaped their year. We’ll be rolling these pieces out throughout December.
Judas Priest had hoped to be on tour for a good chunk of 2020, celebrating their 50th anniversary. When the pandemic forced them off the road, though, frontman Rob Halford rushed to finish up his book, Confess: The Autobiography, which came out in the fall to critical acclaim. The singer opened up about how he struggled in Priest’s early years as he tried to hide his sexuality and the freedom he felt after coming out. He recalled entertaining stories about meeting Andy Warhol, writing “Living After Midnight” at John Lennon’s old house, and teaching the Queen of England about heavy metal. Rolling Stone called it one of the best music books of the year.
In addition to writing the book, Halford made the most of 2020 by listening to music by his old pal, the late, great Ronnie James Dio, new music by Five Finger Death Punch, streaming The Crown, and watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy. As he looked back on the year while filling out Rolling Stone’s 2020 questionnaire, he explained how he managed to keep his spirits up, and why he has great hopes for 2021.
The album I listened to the most in 2020 was:
The Very Beast Of Dio (compilation). Throughout this year, as it’s been for many, I love to listen to the unmistakable power of my friend Ronnie James Dio and this compilation album. No matter what time of day, I can plug in and re-energize with his unique voice.
My favorite TV show to stream during quarantine was:
So many to get loose and lost in. I’ve been purging all the streams, but The Crown for me has been gripping entertainment. As you know, I’m a royalist (“Oh heavy metal why do they play it so loud!” QE2 once asked me). Brilliant in every aspect.
The song that will define “2020” for me is:
Five Finger Death Punch nailed it with “A Little Bit Off,” especially with their video showing a ghost town Vegas, which the world usually sees as being a 24/7 action zone.
I’d define my current state of mind as:
You know me as a “light at the end of a tunnel” person, which I feel is a healthy mental way to live. So right now I’m still in a hopeful state of mind.
The viral video I kept coming back to in quarantine was:
I loves me some pussy (cat), and the goofy head-banging cat that’s cropped up recently and been re-memed loads is a kick.
The old-favorite album I returned to for comfort this year was:
Decades ago, I witnessed David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust live in concert, and this character and the songs he weaved around it made his album with the Spiders From Mars comfort music food for my ears.
The old-favorite movie I returned to for comfort this year was:
Are the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings [movies] old? If they are, they fit the bill as a great display of life and everything about it. Epic on 11 scale.
A new hobby I picked up in quarantine was:
Bird feeders. Huh? It crossed my mind one day that unlike the U.K., where birds rule, we don’t see many flapping around here in Phoenix, particularly in the summer hell heat. So I got two bird feeders [and] put them in a tree by my living room window and was dumbfounded by the sudden sheer volume and gluttony of my local feathered friends.
The celebrity I’d most want to quarantine with is:
Cher, for many reasons. But as a fellow singer who’s had a remarkable life, is a powerful woman, philanthropist and activist — she can talk my head off anytime.
The most interesting thing I learned to cook during quarantine was:
My other half, Thomas, is from the South (Alabama), and a while back when we were in the fruit and vegetable section of our local store, he started waving this thing at me, saying “This is what our friend Hillbilly (Kentucky) cooked for us last time he visited, so get on it.” So I did, and can now cook a U.K. version of deep fried and battered squash.
The best book I read in quarantine was:
Philip Pullman’s series His Dark Materials dragged me willingly into his fantastical world and so when La Belle Sauvage dropped, I leapt back in for some more of the same.
Something positive that happened to me that nobody noticed was:
Oh, I became a great-uncle for the first time in my life to Harper Rose, my great-niece, which gave me a feeling of a new kind of positiveness.
The mistake I learned the most from this year was:
Who did these questions — Freud??!! I can’t come up with any mistakes I made, but don’t get me started on the mistakes of the governments of the world re: this pandemic!
The biggest hero of 2020 was:
Health workers and frontliners who are still showing such love, care, and passion.
A word or phrase I never want to hear again is:
“Fake news!” Ugh, such a childish, dismissive, ignorant, rude, and uneducated phrase.
The thing I’m least looking forward to in 2021 is:
The world turns and is constantly in a state of flux, so whatever I’m least looking forward to is nonexistent.
The thing I’m most looking forward to doing when the pandemic is over is:
Cue Willie! On the road again — musicians are completed by touring and showing what we truly are when we are with the fans who sustain us.
My biggest hope for 2021 is:
Getting back to some kind of normalcy with the people of the world being more aware of how fragile yet how connected we all are with one another.