by Sarah Froelich
Former Judas Priest front man/leather-daddy sex god Rob Halford languishes in Nevada’s Clark County High Desert State Prison, serving out his life sentence for the murder of two adolescent party-killers, as well as the attempted murder of Nevada’s entire teenaged population. Halford is confined to solitary: restricted for fear of further violations via neuro-linguistic programming; but he still manages to spread his Evil Fantasies.
It goes without saying that Halford’s work has changed dramatically. There are no leather caps or bitching amps in prison. His new material arrives as a jumble of degraded contraband: inflammatory prose, lyrical poetry, soggy collages assembled from pages torn from books or back issues of National Geographic hot off the prison library cart. These artefacts of a vision hindered by incarceration reach his collectors and archivists via cunning evasion of Nevada’s stringent sanctions.
This all began 1990 with a trial over the alleged planting of the subliminal command “Do It” on the track ‘Better By You, Better Than Me’. Heavy metal devotees flocked to Las Vegas; descending en masse. Kitted up in spikes and studs, all watched in abject agony as the verdict was read. At the time few realized where the decision of guilt would lead, though their three-day smash and burn riot of the civic centre couldn’t have helped. The doorway into criminal prosecution had been kicked hard and opened wide; the fate of their Heavy Metal Messiah sealed.
What followed played out faster than a polyrythmic blast- beat. After the success in 1992’s ‘The People V. Rob Halford’, the US became a killing machine of censorship, banning and burning all things Judas Priest, especially 1978’s Stained Class, the centerpiece of the prosecution. Other countries followed suit. At first loyal Metallers rallied and rebelled, but were soon weaned off their mother’s milk, shifted over to the less threatening glam and grunge rock: the resigned acceptance of the establishment’s so-called ‘Pop Metal’.
Though today the moral backlash against ‘Ritualized Satanic Hypnotic Abuses’ has abated and is generally dismissed as yet another great American rape fantasy, Halford still remains incarcerated, and Stained Class is notoriously impossible to track down. Occasionally a suicide cult (usually Japanese) will pop up claiming to have a copy of ‘Better By You, Better Than Me’ – but all have been hoaxes: the tape in question often the Spooky Tooth original or a modern absurdum recorded on a Casio talk-man or similar.
The Nevada Department of Corrections is increasingly eager to combat underground interest in Halford’s continuing works. Attempts to silence Halford have escalated to an extent that his confinement at the present day is tantamount to political exile. Until the end of 2009, Halford managed to get his work outside the gates fairly regularly via an underground network of disciples who call themselves ‘Priesties’, loving transcribers of manifestos of discontent posted to Halfordspeaks.org or circulated via Xeroxed pamphlets.
In 2000, Warden Dwight Neven took over, and outlawed paper, considering the matter closed. However, upon discovering that an entire album’s worth of prose had reached an underground publisher based in Marseille, it was discovered that it had been composed in its entirety on a roll of toilet paper, smuggled out by one of the cleaners. Neven’s next move was to ban toilet paper in its entirety, but fortunately for fans he was forced to retire in shame after Halford won an appeal to assure him the right to wipe. This small victory for Halford, his fans, and his bottom is reason enough to rejoice and rock on.
The 1990 Judas Priest trial was dismissed from court. This story should be regarded as completely fictional.