Patrick Prince of Goldmine magazine recently conducted an interview with JUDAS PRIEST frontman Rob Halford. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
Goldmine: A lot of people, especially kids nowadays — and there are obviously kids into JUDAS PRIEST — they don’t remember the PMRC. I liked how you gave your opinion of the PMRC [Parents’ Music Resource Center], hence the (“Turbo”) song “Parental Guidance”, because they were a pain in the ass back then.
Halford: “They were, weren’t they? Funny, because there was a program on CNN the other night about the ’80s … they actually took you into the Senate hearings and Tipper Gore and her crew. I mean I understood in principle what they were looking for there, which was that there was certain music that was coming out, protected by the First Amendment. I think what they were looking for was sort of a guideline, like you go to the movies, you know? You’re movie is R rated, PG rated, G or whatever, so if you got kids you’re not gonna go and see ‘Deadpool’. My God what a different world, you know? You’ve got 10-year-olds going to see ‘Deadpool’. Because it’s a fun kind of … and let’s face it, kids have got old heads on their shoulders now. By the time they’re 12, it’s just remarkable. I mean I’ve seen that with my nieces and nephews. But having said that, it was an unpleasant time. Because I think, unfortunately, we were being attacked for the other side’s political advancements, you know? I don’t think they understood that they were really accusing us of doing some things that were covered by the First Amendment. If you don’t like a song, you can’t crush it, you can’t dismiss it. You’ve just got to accept that’s that, you know, that’s the way of the world. If you don’t like something, you don’t have to take it. So we were on that list of the Filthy Fifteen with Sheena Easton and Prince and other people. And it was very interesting to watch, but yeah we just kicked back with ‘we don’t need no parental guidance.’ Kind of a cute way to say we were listening and we were watching. We put that song (‘Parental Guidance’) together in America because we were surrounded by that on CNN and so forth while we were making the ‘Turbo’ record.”
Goldmine: But it was so big back then and now it’s like, you know, people have forgotten about it, the PMRC. It’s so strange!
Halford: “Yeah I was talking over lunch about how Trent Reznor just said that the Internet has made everything too safe in music, you know? And there’s probably some value to what he’s saying. And I think what he means by that is, can you remember, the last thing that you saw or heard that made you go, ‘Wow, this is kind of interesting, kind of angry … this has got some fire attached to it’? Because I can’t. I can’t think of anybody. And I’m not being a boring old fart. You know that last big moment for me, I have to go all the way back to [Marilyn] Manson. I can’t think of anything else, can you? I mean it took NIRVANA to really tap into some raw power in the early ‘90s, you know? No doubt three of the biggest bands that really shook things up were NIRVANA, PEARL JAM and ALICE IN CHAINS. You know, and again that was the start of a new decade, wasn’t it? They were very important. And I think that’s what Trent is saying, when things get too safe, complacency sets in and it can get a bit dull.”
Read the entire interview at Goldmine.
Back in the mid-’80s, the PMRC (Parents’ Music Resource Center) published a list called “The Filthy Fifteen” which consisted of the top fifteen songs they wanted banned due to objectionable lyrics suggesting violence, sex, drugs, alcohol or the occult. They petitioned for lyrics to be printed on the album jackets and no one was safe — heavy metal acts were right there alongside the pop stars. AC/DC, Madonna, MÖTLEY CRÜE, JUDAS PRIEST, Prince, W.A.S.P., MERCYFUL FATE, Vanity, DEF LEPPARD, Cyndi Lauper and TWISTED SISTER all made “The Filthy Fifteen” list. In November 1985, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association Of America) agreed to put “Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics” labels on selected releases at their own discretion.