Rob Halford On How Robert Plant Became His Mentor

Many artists embark on a music career after another name inspires them with their talent. Speaking to Sonic Perspectives’ Robert Cavuoto, Rob Halford revealed the names who helped him find his own sound as a singer. It turns out that Robert Plant was among those artists as Halford’s mentor.

“As I became a ‘professional’ musician, there weren’t that many heavy metal singers around,” Halford said. “I mean, Ozzy was there. As I’ve said before, I think two of my great singers that I always look to and listen to are Ian Gillan from Deep Purple and Robert Plant. Robert because he did all that screaming and wailing from a blues source, but it showed you, ‘My God, how is he doing that? He’s going into these extreme places.’ So, he was a great mentor and, to a great extent, Ian Gillan as well.”

The frontman added, “Roger Daltrey, obviously. Some of the ladies like the great early blues singer; Bessie Smith, for example. Edith Piaf. ‘Why would you say Edith Piaf?’ Just because her voice, my God, is just so incredibly pure. I’m on the more showbiz side of things because I think even now women are in a better place in rock and roll and metal, if I’m using the right words without being canceled. But back in the day, many ladies were marginalized because of that. ‘You’re a chick; chicks don’t make it in rock and roll.’”

Listing other female artists who were his inspiration, Rob Halford continued, “So, Janis Joplin; is a great example. She was one of the groundbreakers. Mama Cass. These are groundbreaking people. Jefferson Airplane, Grace Slick. All these incredible women were again at the forefront of rock, and some hard rock before metal became established. I listened to all those people.”

Apparently, Rob Halford was impressed with Robert Plant’s use of his voice characterized by screaming and wailing. According to Rob, the Led Zeppelin frontman created his own sound from blues roots and influenced him as a guiding light. Apart from Robert Plant, Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan, Roger Daltrey, Bessie Smith, Edith Piaf, Janis Joplin, Mama Cass, and Grace Slick also inspired him.

Looking through all those names Rob Halford listed, it seems like he drew influences from artists from various genres while finding his own sound. However, the most inspiring names were obviously Ian Gillan and Robert Plant, whom he saw as mentors.