Rob Halford said it was important for him to leave Judas Priest in 1992, because the experience helped him focus on what mattered to him.

During his 11-year absence, he worked on a number of solo projects, including Fight and 2wo. He also came out as gay, before returning to the veteran British band in 2003.

“I would probably say that my exit was due to probably the similar circumstances as a lot of my friends, lead singers that I know that went on the same self-journey of discovery,” Halford told Rolling Stone in a new interview. “I think it was important for me to do that. Because it’s like that song, ‘You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.’ Internally, as difficult as it was for me to be away from the band that I lived for, it kind of brought things into perspective and led me back to the place where I felt, ‘This is where I need to be. This is the band I need to be in. This is the band that means everything to me.’”

Asked what he learned from Fight and 2wo, he replied, “I still had that sense of self-determination and drive to express myself in those styles of music and be able to realize it, make it happen. I had no clue how any of those bands were going to work – that they would connect – but they did. I surrounded myself with like-minded players. And even though I hold the reins more firmly … I couldn’t have done any of those things by myself. It helped me figure out a lot of things.”

Halford also discussed what he discovered when he came out in 1998. "You’ve got to let yourself out of the cage and you can’t live your life for other people," he said. "It brought me a lot of peace and helped me in my work more than anything else. If you’re still in the closet, you can’t really focus on life and what you’re here to do in life when you’ve got that shadow hanging over your head. Black it out, smash it down, burn it, tear it apart. You’re entitled to live your life as a human on this planet on your own terms.”


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