This year, Judas Priest will be a part of the 2022 Class for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s a long time coming for the forefathers of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal – the band started all the way back in 1969, and now they’re finally getting paid a bit of respect by the music industry.
Well, kind of. Judas Priest are being inducted into the hall by way of the Award for Musical Excellence, which is technically different from being inducted as a performer. Previous Musical Excellence Award winners include Ringo Starr, Nile Rodgers, and LL Cool J, so it’s not exactly without its esteem.
The thing is that the Award for Musical Excellence was previously known as the “Sideman” category and was used to induct players who themselves weren’t notable enough as stand-alone performers but whose contributions were great enough to merit induction. Some great examples include session drumming great Hal Blaine, Elvis Presley guitarist Scotty Moore, Motown bassist James Jamerson, producer Glyn Johns, and the E Street Band minus Bruce Springsteen.
There are actually five categories from which musicians, and now songs, can be inducted into the hall: the standard Performer category, the Early Influences category, the Ahmet Ertegun Award for Non-Performers, the Award for Musical Excellence, and a Singles category, where distinctive songs that helped shape rock and roll are inducted, mostly because the bands themselves couldn’t quite put together a career that would have made them worthy in the eyes of the hall.
It’s all very convoluted, but recently the Award for Musical Excellence has been extended beyond sidemen and into a new grey area mostly for acts who have been nominated a number of times but couldn’t get it through voting alone. it can be viewed as either an executive decision to push an act into the hall, or it can be viewed as a sort of consolation prize, depending on how you look at it.
In an interview with AZ Central earlier this week, Judas Priest singer Rob Halford discussed his mixed feelings about Judas Priest being inducted with the Musical Excellence Award, which will technically separate them from the rest of the class of 2022, which includes Pat Benetar, Duran Duran, Eminem, Eurythmics, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, and Carly Simon.
“I was a bit pissed,” Halford admitted. “At the end of the day, does it matter? Some days, I go, ‘No, it doesn’t matter. We’re in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Be grateful. Shut the hell up.’ And then there are other days where I’m like, ‘God damn, why did they give us the Musical Excellence Award?'”
“Because it sounds very, you know, grandiose. ‘The Musical Excellence Award, reserved for blah, blah, blah.’… I just felt a little bit like, ‘Well, Sabbath got this. So why can’t we have that?'” Halford pondered. “Not that I’m jealous of Sabbath. I’m just talking about this tag that they give it. Why do they put these tags on the damn thing? Why don’t they go, ‘Welcome. You’re in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,’ and leave it at that?”
“It’s as though we got this far. We’re, like, one step away, you know? I know it’s silly, but it’s just frustrating,” Halford concluded. “Judas Priest are still the Rodney Dangerfield of heavy metal. They can’t get no respect.”
Perhaps Halford will bring his Dangerfield impression to the microphone and let his feelings out when the band accept their induction later this year. Or maybe they’ll decide to blow off the ceremony upon realizing how silly and ridiculous the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in the first place. Only time will tell.