JUDAS PRIEST frontman Rob Halford, who celebrated the 34th anniversary of his getting sober in January, spoke to Backstage Axxess about how being clean and sober since 1986 has affected his live performance as well as his emotional well being.
"It is one day at a time," he said (see video below). "Every time I see a commercial on television for a beer [laughs], I go, 'God, I would love a cold beer.' But I know I can't, because I'd just be in a really sick place, I'd be in an unhealthy place again.
"The tough part is living on a day-to-day schedule," he continued. "It's even tougher when you're on the road and you're surrounded by guys that love to drink, and all my band loves to drink. But I have all the tools in place to avoid that temptation, which is just very easy to give in to on a spur of the moment, and then what you worked so hard for seems to have been lost. Having said that, yesterday's gone — it doesn't matter anymore; it's gone. It's all about living in the moment now."
Halford went on to offer his advice to people trying to get sober, explaining: "For people that are struggling with it, understand that you're not alone, that there are literally millions, if not hundreds of millions, of us. And that doesn't make it any easier, but I'd like people to understand that you are not alone, and there are incredible, much easier ways now of reaching out and finding help. We've all got a cell phone, a smartphone, which is the start of the recovery journey. There are places you can go pretty much everywhere on the planet to attend meetings and see people that are going through the same wonderful challenges and great opportunities as yourself. Just don't be afraid. 'Cause it's fear as well.
"I started drinking and drugging to cover up a lot of my own pain, and that's a very common denominator in people that have an addiction," Rob added. "An addiction can be anything, the cause, but in this case, that was my crutch. I was using it to kind of get lost in the difficulties that I was having and thinking that by having a drink or a drug, things would be better. They weren't. They were still the same. You'd collapse on the bed at night, and then you'd wake up and you'd go, 'Well, the problem's still there. The issues are still there.'
"Please, please, really, really think about the great things that you can do for yourself, because when you become clean and sober after an addiction to drugs and alcohol, you become an incredibly strong, powerful, potent person. We've all got that in us; we just don't know how to get to it yet. But once you start to go into recovery — which starts one day at a time — you'll find the most incredible things start to happen to you, for you, as a person, and then it spreads out to your family, to your friends, to your co-workers, to everything that you do in life. Suddenly, it's like being given a second chance. You relish in the opportunity of living a clean and sober life."
Halford previously credited his belief in a higher power for helping him in his recovery. "When I got clean and sober, that was a major change in my life," he said during an appearance on HATEBREED frontman Jamey Jasta's official podcast, "The Jasta Show". "And part of my recovery is just having this higher-power belief. And it works. It works, man. It really, really is important."
Halford added: "There probably will be people listening to [this] podcast who don't have anything like that in their life, and that's great; it's all about acceptance. But I always say to people, if you're thinking about it, the simplest thing I do is I pray. I pray quite a bit, actually. And even if you don't believe in prayer, just have a go. Pray for a good day, or just pray for your friend, or whatever it might be. And it's amazing, man, 'cause it absolutely works. I guarantee, it genuinely does work. And now I'm sounding like [American evangelical 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."
In an interview with Classic Rock Revisited, Halford said that he quit using substances because he "was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I will always remember the first show I did clean and sober… It was in New Mexico, in Albuquerque," he recalled. "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."
Halford added, "Everybody has to face things in their lives at some point. It [doesn't have to] be booze and drugs. You can eat too much, or you can not exercise, or whatever… It is not easy staying clean and sober in rock and roll. There are temptations galore from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, especially when you're on the road. [But] I think we're some of the strongest people, my friends and my sober brothers in metal."
Rob is continuing to promote his recently released autobiography, "Confess", which arrived on September 29 via Hachette Books. It was written with Ian Gittins, co-writer of "The Heroin Diaries" by Nikki Sixx.