Judas Priest is celebrating their upcoming 40th anniversary with the release of their new concert DVD, Epitaph. The film captures the final stop on Judas Priest's 2012 tour at the Hammersmith Odeon - now called Hammersmith Apollo - in London. That night, Judas Priest performed at least one song from each of their 14 studio albums with Halford, making it a night to remember.
Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford tells iHeartRadio, "It's like a good memory of a vacation or a relationship. That's what music does to you, obviously. It kind of goes hand-in-hand with an event in your life. If you have a favorite and it's relative to an incident that's happened to you, it stays with you. A lot of that is in this concert."
While they were in New York City promoting the new DVD, Rob Halford and guitarist Richie Faulkner stopped by iHeartRadio HQ, where they let us in not only on the DVD, but also on the stories behind their ink. Check out Rob Halford and Richie Faulkner's tattoo stories below.
"I was a late bloomer as they say in England when it comes to getting tattoos," Rob Halford tells iHeartRadio. "At that time, a tattooed individual carried a kind of a stigma. As we know in rock n’ roll, it’s been around for as long as you can remember. I think I was kind of waiting for that moment in my mind to go for it.
"I remember my very first ever tattoo. I got around probably about 1990. I made friends that were covered in ink and it was like, 'Rob, get some ink.' I'm like, 'No, no, no.' Then, I was on Sunset and that famous tattoo shop, [Cliff Raven Studios, now known as Sunset Strip Tattoo] across from the Hyatt house. As soon as I walked in, the guy's like, 'Oh, yeah. Yeah, you're here. We know that once you get some ink, you're going to be back.' I'm like, 'No. I just want the one.'
"I have this very little tiny devil tattoo - the reason I got that was because being a gay man, I thought that it would be really cool to have this particular design because I did a bit of research, and I found out that this particular devil was kind of an underground secret in the 50s and the 60s. If you have this tattoo, you knew you were a gay guy. I thought if I’m going to do this, I want my first tattoo to have a really strong meaning. Two or three days looking at this first tattoo, I'm like, 'Maybe I should balance it up...' That's what started the ball rolling as they say, and I just went f***ing nuts. I was in the tattoo shop all the time. Now, I'm literally covered from head to toe."
"I've always been intrigued by the dragon element because of its mystery and its power. In the UK, we have this story about St. George and the dragon which is kind of like the American Eagle. We have St. George and the dragon. For me as a Brit, that all soaks into my existence.
"I've always felt that what we do with tattoos is kind of self-empowering as well. I think it's quite a big psychological step once you start getting a lot of ink because you're obviously trying to say something with your artwork without ever talking. The amount of people who look at you and they're able to make some kind of conclusion. It's like you're wearing your life on your skin."
For Judas Priest newcomer Richie Faulkner (he's been with the band 2 years), tattoos have not taken up as much time (or as much skin) as those of Rob Halford. In fact, Richie's first tattoo was a less-than-poetic affair.
"I've got three tattoos. I wish I could give you a lovely story about the meaning behind them," Richie Faulkner tells iHeartRadio. "I can't."
"I was playing in London at the time in a band and we were playing pretty regular. Every Sunday, we were there. A guy came up to me one day and he said, 'Listen. You're here every week. I've got a tattoo studio down the road. Can I do some pieces on you and then you'd say... It’s like an advert. Like a commercial and you send the people down there.' That's what it was. I went down there and just looked through his book. I said, 'I want that one. That one looks good.'"
The tattoo on his wrist, however, is another story.
"I'm a huge Star Wars fan. This way it says, 'Jedi.' J-E-D-I that way. The other end of the scale, we've got the Sith which is Darth Vader, the Darth Maul, the Emperor. That way is the Sith. Everyone sees the good, but I see a little bit of evil in there."
Photos by Shelby Case