The 2022 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Hall of Fame induction ceremony was special because there was finally some heavy metal representation: Judas Priest were the recipients of the Musical Excellence Award.
Though Priest weren’t one of the Rock Hall’s official Class of 2022 Inductees – which includes Pat Benatar, Eminem, Dolly Parton, Duran Duran and a few others – the Musical Excellence Award is presented to “artists, musicians, songwriters and producers whose originality and influence creating music have had a dramatic impact on music.” In addition, they had the opportunity to perform during the event, which marked their first time playing with former guitarist K.K. Downing and drummer Les Binks.
You can read about – and watch – their performance here.
The band was invited to the stage to accept the award, and during his introduction, Alice Cooper called Judas Priest the “definitive metal band.” He added (as transcribed by Blabbermouth):
They defined the sound we know of heavy metal and their sound is unmistakable. And what can you say about Rob Halford’s voice? Never have screams covered such a range. Is there any emotion that he can’t express? They’re electrifying on stage and one of the hardest-hitting live bands in the history of rock and roll. PRIEST has carried the flag of hard rock and heavy metal proudly for something like 50 years, never wavering or following trends or pretending to be anything but exactly what they are. They are flying high tonight. Much deserved and long overdue.
During his acceptance speech, frontman Rob Halford proudly declared, “I’m the gay guy in the band” to deafening cheers. He continued:
You see, that there is what heavy metal is all about. We call ourselves the heavy metal community, which is all-inclusive. So, no matter what your sexual identity is, what you look like, the color of your skin, the faith that you believe in or don’t believe in. Everybody’s welcome. People on the outside looking in at heavy metal kind of look at us a little big scared. . . . We’re all about the power and emotion and dedication and the love of heavy metal that we’ve been carrying for 50 years. . . . We should get out another 50 years, but the joy about music is that it lives forever. And that’s the reason why we’re here. We live for heavy metal. We live for music. And we’re living for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
You can see some clips of their acceptance speech below.
During an interview over the summer, Halford admitted that he initially had mixed feelings about the award, because it’s not the “same title” that the other inductees receive.
“I was a bit pissed,” the vocalist remarked. “I just felt a little bit like, ‘Well, Sabbath got this. So why can’t we have that?’ Not that I’m jealous of Sabbath. I’m just talking about this tag that they give it. Why do they put these tags on the damn thing? Why don’t they go, ‘Welcome. You’re in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’ and leave it at that.”
However, he later noted that he’s happy they’re getting in regardless, and praised the Hall for finally acknowledging heavy metal again.
Congrats to Judas Priest!