The iconic British heavy metal group received its first nomination during 2018, nearly 20 years after it was first eligible. The group wasn’t part of the class of 2019, but it’s as excited about Tuesday morning’s (Oct. 15) nomination announcement as it was the first time.
“It’s just another thrill, again, to be nominated,” Halford tells Billboard, “and so quickly because I know sometimes the nominations can get stretched out for quite a long period of time. So to get another one so quickly is wonderful and another great moment for the Priest and for our fans.” Halford also considers the nod another victory for heavy metal, which many critics feel the Rock Hall has largely overlooked save for the likes of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Metallica. Halford, in fact, is particularly excited Priest is nominated alongside British heavy rock mates such as Motorhead and Thin Lizzy on this year’s ballot.
“There’s always a tinge of controversy about the Hall,” Halford notes, “but the fact that Priest is here again speaks volumes about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame respecting heavy metal music, especially British heavy metal music. I’m so thrilled to be in esteemed company because both of those bands have their roots back in the UK. We’re very big friends of Scott Gorham from Thin Lizzy and equally with Phil (Taylor) and Mikkey (Dee) from Motorhead. It’s just an extra, extra feeling to know that we’re surrounded by our great friends in the music world.”
Halford — who will be releasing a new holiday album, Celestial, on Oct. 18 — says a Priest induction in 2020 would be “extra special” because the group will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year. He’s not sending the Metal God tux to the dry cleaners just yet, but if elected he, and his bandmates, will definitely serve. “Priest is always in it to win it, whatever we do,” Halford says. “The champagne is on ice — or in my case the Red Bull is on ice, ready to be popped.”