Judas Priest’s Rob Halford: 10 Christmas songs that changed my life

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He loves this time of year so much that he’s released two solo albums of yuletide classics. Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford is basically Mr Christmas…

The Christmas song that soundtracked my childhood…

The Goons – I’m Walking Backwards For Christmas (1956)

When I was growing up, my dad was a big fan of The Goons. They were Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe, and they were the anarchic comedians of their day. I remember listening to this song on the radio with my dad and it’s stuck with me ever since. Look it up, it’s hilarious. They were comedy revolutionaries. Ask any stand-up comedian today and they will tell you The Goons were a big inspiration.”

The Christmas song I remember from school…

Away In A Manger

I don’t know if they still do them as much anymore, but I played the part of one of the Three Kings in our school’s nativity when I was eight years old! Away In A Manger was one of the songs we did and it’s always resonated with me. It also just so happens to be on my Christmas album.”

The most annoying Christmas song…

The Wombles – Wombling Merry Christmas (1974)

There have been a few awful Christmas songs, haven’t there? Mr Blobby had one, which was revolting, but the Christmas song that always does my head in every time it comes on is Wombling Merry Christmas. I’m not a fan of The Wombles in the least. I’m more of a Tinky-Winky [from the Teletubbies] kind of guy!”

My favourite Christmas cover…

Ronnie James Dio – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (2008)

There’s a song on my album that was also previously covered by a beautiful friend of mine who’s no longer with us, Ronnie James Dio. He did a great version of this with Tony Iommi on guitar. Ronnie means a lot to me.”

The most rocking holiday song…

Roy Wood And Wizzard – I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday (1973)

This song is such an integral part of any British Christmas. It’s a great little song as well. I love it when that big brass section comes in at the back end. It’s got this wonderful warm vibe about it.”

The most emotional Christmas song…

John & Yoko – Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (1971)

I’ve always been a big John Lennon fan and I always will be. I love the sentiment of it. Only he could get away with using war in a Christmas song.”

My favourite festive song to perform…

Halford – We Three Kings (2009)

I have a vivid memory from a charity event I did in LA. It was about 10 years ago, around the time my first album of Christmas tunes, Winter Songs, came out. I was invited to perform and it was brilliant because I went onstage with Slash and Jason Bonham, and some other extraordinarily talented players. We played We Three Kings together. You can still find the performance on YouTube. It’s magic to watch.”

The best Christmas movie soundtrack…

Marilyn Manson – This is Halloween (2006)

This is the soundtrack that immediately pops into my head when I think of Christmas. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a great film, too. There are lots of brilliant songs on there, mostly by the composer Danny Elfman, but This Is Halloween covered by Marilyn Manson is the best. I know it’s a Halloween song, but the whole thing is a sort of Christmas/Halloween mash-up, and it’s a really fun song to listen to.”

The Christmas song that always gets stuck in my head…

Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody (1973)

It’s another incredible UK classic and you can’t get it out of your head once you’ve heard it, but it gets stuck in there in a good way. It’s a belter of a Christmas song. They’re local lads from our part of the world as well, but in all our years of music our paths have never crossed, amazingly. Someone who works in our crew is a big mate of Noddy [Holder, Slade vocalist] and we have been trying to get together for ages. I’m hoping for a Christmas curry!”

The best Christmas song ever…

Lemmy – Run, Rudolph, Run (2008)

This is another fun one by a beautiful mate of mine who is sadly no longer with us. It’s a great track, though, because Lemmy got Dave Grohl on drums and Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top on guitar. So he’s in good company for that particular song. Lemmy’s voice is so unbelievably distinctive and magic on it. I think, of all the people you could listen to at Christmas, Lemmy’s voice wrapped around that great Run, Rudolph, Run song really hits the spot.”

Posted on December 24th 2020, 11:00a.m.

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