Rob Halford of Judas Priest has lived a life of such epic proportions that he even shares a strange connection to the late frontman of The Beatles, John Lennon, something that not many living souls can claim in what is a testament to the status that Halford boasts.
Halford’s story is a well-known one. He is arguably the ultimate metal frontman, possessing a siren-like wail and a penchant for leather jackets, and without his work, the genre of metal would be without many of its essential facets. Off the back of tracks like ‘Breaking the Law’ and ‘Painkiller’, he helped metal grow into the multifaceted beast that it is today.
Notably, Judas Priest recorded their classic record, 1980’s British Steel, in December 1979 at Tittenhurst Park, home of former Beatle Ringo Starr, which, incidentally, was the location of John Lennon’s iconic ‘Imagine’ video. When speaking on the Cassius Morris Show in 2020, Halford revealed that when at Tittenhurst, he “stole” an object of Lennon’s, caveating his point by expressing that if his widow Yoko Ono would like it back, he’ll happily hand it over.
Interestingly, although the house was owned by Starr, Halford explained that he has never met the former Beatles drummer, or any of his bandmates for that matter: “I’d love to, but I never met the man – I still haven’t. I’ve never met a Beatle in my life. His studio managers and record people they took care of all of the bookings and payments, and so on and so forth, for the time that we were there.”
He continued: “But the fact that you could walk around a house that was used in Lennon’s videos when he was on the lake. Or when he was walking around that room, Yoko is opening the window shades… And then there’s that kind of jaw-dropping moment that hits me every time when Yoko walks past the table and there are these Perspex objects on the table. I actually have one of those Perspex objects in care, looking after it. Because I found it in this room that they put me in to do the vocals.”
Recalling how he came across the object in question, the Judas Priest frontman said that it was when tracking vocals in a tiny room that his eyes were caught by an obelisk collecting dust: “That’s the object, the obelisk. I’m in this room that Tom Allen put me in because he wanted a very very dry type of vocal sound. So I was in this very little teeny tiny room. And I was in there one day just waiting for the take to start. I’m looking around me and I see all these gold and silver and platinum Beatles awards. ‘Oh my God, that stuff’s collecting dust!’”
He added: “Because it literally was collecting dust! I mean, when you think about the awards that those guys got, hundreds, probably thousands of them. Where do you put this stuff? There’s too much to put on the walls.”
Revealing himself to be a great fan of John Lennon and the video for ‘Imagine‘, Halford said: “There’s all this stuff around me, and then I see in the corner, there’s this Perspex obelisk, about just over a foot tall or whatever, and I know what it is right away because I’ve seen that video ‘Imagine’ a million times.”
The ‘Breaking the Law’ vocalist stated that he took the obelisk when the sessions were finished, and it was time to leave Tittenhurst. Halford feels like he’s been the custodian of the item by putting it on display at his house instead of it sitting forgotten in the room collecting dust. He even explained that he felt compelled to do it, as not long after the recording of British Steel, Starr sold the property and that he’s confident that the movers threw a lot of the stuff away, a fate the obelisk would have most likely suffered as well.
“So I have that on loan. And I’ve always said John would have celebrated his 80th birthday just recently [on October 9th], and in talking about working there at Lennon’s and Ringo’s place. I’ve always said, ‘Yoko, if you ever hear me speaking and you want that object back, get your people to contact my people.’”
Of his hope to one day restore the obelisk back to Ono, Halford concluded: “I always have this kind of a fantasy dream, this kind of bittersweet. Where there’s a picture of me giving this back to Yoko, and the metal tears are flowing, and, ‘I’ve kept it for you, Yoko!’ And I’m hoping she’d say, ‘It’s OK, Rob, keep it. You’ve cherished it, it means more to you”.