Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford spoke to Goldmine and told the story of how he came up with an excellent idea for their live performances. Halford defined it as a moment of realization by sharing details.
Judas Priest released their fifth studio album entitled ‘Killing Machine,’ also known as ‘Hell Bent for Leather’ on October 9, 1978. The main reason for changing the record’s name in the US was the Cleveland Elementary School shooting on January 29, 1979.
In his interview, Halford talked about the creation process of a track from the album ‘Hell Bent for Leather’ by highlighting that they were at a club and saw bikers. Then, suddenly the singer thought that it would be unique and fascinating to a motorcycle while performing the song on the stage.
According to Halford, it was an ‘unplanned epiphany,’ and the fans loved this iconic entrance so much that he felt like Marlon Brando in ‘On the Waterfront,’ but a musical version of his charisma. Since then, a motorcycle has become an essential part of their concerts.
Halford said in his interview that:
“There was a moment when we first had the song ‘Hell Bent for Leather,’ and we’re at a club, somewhere in the UK, still making our sound happen in any venue we could play in. We pulled up, and there were bikers parked outside the venue, down the alley, and stuff.
I said out of the blue, ‘It would be very cool if we could bring a motorcycle out during ‘Hell Bent for Leather.” I went and spoke to a couple of bikers and told them what the idea was. ‘Yeah, yeah. But his isn’t that big; use mine.'”
He went on:
“So, I had the bike and a leather jacket. I put a leather jacket on, and it was like an epiphany. It was a very unplanned epiphany. Everything seemed to feel 100 percent connected at that particular show. Then, that was it. You walk off stage going, ‘Something’s happened’ — you know.
Now we have the whole manifestation of the look, the sound, the feel; it has all coalesced through that bike. It was like a simple ‘On the Waterfront’ moment. Marlon Brando and all these things that have already preceded you, but in a non-musical way. Here it is. That’s all she wrote. The fans loved it. They went ballistic.“
You can check out one of those moments below.