In Rob Halford’s autobiography, the Judas Priest frontman discusses one of the difficulties of success was remaining in the closet on the road and keeping his secret from everybody. Well, according to former guitarist KK Downing, the rest of the band knew all along.
Blabbermouth transcribed a new interview on Robb Flynn’s podcast, No Fuckin’ Regrets With Robb Flynn, Downing revealed the band always knew and it didn’t bother them.
Downing said “We always knew Rob was gay. Because the thing is back in the days — in the ’60s and particularly early ’70s, when everything was still kind of behind closed doors and stuff like that — people felt a bit more comfortable around us because we would hang around in groups and gangs and we would always know that that guy is different to us and that girl is different.”
Downing claims Rob’s sexuality didn’t matter to the band: “The main thing is… Obviously, to me, Rob being gay, apart from [having] a great voice, I thought Rob was gonna stay in the band forever, and he’s obviously gonna be theatrical, he’s gonna be obviously articulate with words — and he was; he was all of that,” Downing said. “Sensitivities and all of that, and the showmanship — so all of these ingredients [were] great attributes to have as a frontman. And I proved to be right.”
When Flynn asked KK if the band knew Halford spent the 80s and 90s “cruising” after shows, Downing said he did. “Yeah. Absolutely. My eyes have seen a lot. [Laughs] Even in the mid-’70s, if you come off stage and Rob’s in the shower with one of the crew and stuff doing things. I mean, it is what it is. You don’t have to go in there until it’s over and whatever. It is what it is. ‘Cause Rob had to put up with lots of things from us. It’s the same thing — no different… It’s the same thing — fair’s fair. We’re all there in the van. We’re ready to go. ‘Okay. Where’s fucking Dave? Okay. He’s in there still with a girl. Somebody go and get him.’ We need to go. We need to get to the gig or from the gig. And these things happen. It’s rock and roll. A lot of things were put down to rock and roll because it was rock and roll in those days.”
Downing commended Rob for being a team player and trying to overcompensate in the masculinity department. “In all fairness to Rob, Rob was a team player,” K.K. said. “He knows that his image and the way that he was in the day and everything, it appealed to guys [and] it appealed to girls. And he was cool with that. The same with me, because your audience is your audience. We had so many people that did have an awareness, obviously, back in the day. But we are entertainers and we’re performers. But [we had] a great belief in the music and the image and just everything around it. I still had immense pride in Rob as a great frontman and entertainer and a great vocalist. And he played the part as well, equally, as we thought we did in the macho, macho that was JUDAS PRIEST. Because we’d done the outfit, the leather and the studs, and I think anything to do with anything else ancillary — sexuality or anything — was just not a part… it wasn’t on the stage. In Rob’s mind, maybe it was here and there, but, to us, it was so ferocious and full-on, delivering up this music in the way that we did it, to me, I felt so proud of all of the bandmates. Because we’d done the uniform, and it was unique at the time, and it was such a powerful feeling. ‘Cause we were getting off on that, what we had. The audience could sense it, I think. And that’s why we were never afraid to play with any band, because we had the uniform that nobody else could put on at the time.”
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