|My interview with Rob Halford from Flexipop! magazine|
When I met Halford I could hardly avoid noticing that he was wearing more black leather, chains and studs than I'd seen anywhere outside of certain, um, 'special interest' nightspots. So naturally, I asked him about it. He was only too happy to talk.
"When we first started I use to wear all silk and satin," he told me, "They were really quite elaborate costumes too! I used to get all my clothes from the Birmingham theatrical costumiers. I'd just go along and pick up anything I fancied - some of my outfits were really bizarre.
"When we did concerts I used to tear off after every second number to go and put on something different. Often I'd do as many as six or eight costume changes in one show. It was like Danny La Rue [a British female impersonator] backstage - quite outrageous!"
I asked when he decided to throw away all his silks and satins and slip into some figure hugging black leather.
"I think it started off with me wearing a leather jacket and feeling really good in it. Then suddenly the time came when we were all completely dressed in leather and stuff, I think we were probably the first group to take it on in a big way."
So, naturally, I asked Rob if there was any sexual angle to it all?
"I wouldn't deny that there are pretty strong sexual overtones to this sort of gear but there is a lot of raw sexual energy in the music too. I would say that Heavy Metal has got all the qualities that sex has got to offer in all its various forms and delights."
"Well, maybe not all of its various delights. Although we have had a few odd incidents at some of our concerts when people have been discovered gyrating with more than ordinary dance movements!"
So why do many chains and studs?
"As far as I'm concerned it's all a bit of fun. There's often a sense of competition between different Heavy Metal groups, with everyone boasting 'I've got more studs than you have, mate!' or 'I've got more lengths of chain around my neck than you have.' --- though I have to say that when I'm in my full regalia I can give anyone a good run for their money."
Cheekily, I asked Rob is he might ever be tempted to trade in the leather and go back to all the satin frills and flounces.
"No, I don't think so," he told me, "I can't see myself doing all those costume changes in future. So fans needn't worry. I shan't be dashing off after a number and coming back on wearing a sequinned cocktail dress!"