Rob Halford Discusses Shocking Lawsuit Against Judas Priest

Rob Halford Discusses Shocking Lawsuit Against Judas Priest
Original Photo Credit: Stefan Bollmann, via Wikimedia Commons

Heavy metal has erroneously taken the blame for a lot of crap over the years. The genre was, and in some cases still is, misunderstood by the moral majority who have blamed the music for school shootings, suicides and other violent acts. 

Back in 1990, Judas Priest was the target of a shocking lawsuit that alleged the band’s cover of Spooky Tooth’s “Better By You, Better Than Me” contained subliminal messages that caused two young men to make a suicide pact. One of them died while the other survived but with serious injuries. 

Priest frontman Rob Halford recalled the trial in a recent interview with Record Collector. “I’d hate for anybody to go through the lawsuit we went through,” Halford said. “Because at the heart of that matter were these two beautiful lads that lost their lives, you know, and they loved metal and they loved Priest. But it’s still an interesting story to talk about because it’s about having dysfunction in your family and your kids being so unhappy. And you know, you can have a great time with metal, but at the same time, you can have one too many drinks and maybe whatever else, and it creates this terrible place. I still feel that what happened to those boys was a horrible, horrible tragedy.”

Halford, the metal community and anyone with a half a brain questioned why some people would think the band would want their fans to off themselves. “Why would a band tell their fans to kill themselves?” Halford questioned. “We’d be better off hiding messages like, ‘Buy more Priest records’ or ‘Buy more T-shirts’, wouldn’t we? But that’s the insanity of it. You think, how on God’s earth can something so ridiculous get so much traction that these lads have to come all the way over from England and sit in a courtroom in Nevada and defend themselves – and not only ourselves, but our music and the label and our fans.”

Priest eventually won the lawsuit but not before racking up around $250,000 in legal fees. Halford also pondered what would have happened to the music industry had a precedent been set with a ruling against the band. “If the judge had found completely on the side of the prosecution, all hell would have broken loose,” he said. “Every time a radio station played a record, they’d have to say, ‘We disclaim any possible subliminal messages in today’s show.’ But if this happened again tomorrow, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.”

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