During a conversation with Metal Hammer, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and Judas Priest singer Rob Halford talked about the early days, remembering some of their first gigs.
“We had to go to Europe to break it. We played in Hamburg and Switzerland, doing seven 45-minute spots every day.
“And there would be two people in – one of them was a h*oker and the other a nutcase. We lasted about a day before the owners came up and said, ‘Stop that bloody racket!'”
Rob chimed in:
“But those are great memories. At the time, it’s sh*t, but when you look back, it’s some of the best times of your lives. You’re a bunch of guys having a great time, playing your music.”
Was there a point where you thought, ‘Right lads, we’ve done it – we’re famous’?
Tony: “For us, it was when the  ‘Paranoid’ single came out and we were on Top of the Pops. Nobody would play you on the radio. And journalists didn’t like us. We were hated. [Radio 1 DJ] Tony Blackburn hated the sight of us and he had to announce us on Top of the Pops. It must have killed him.”
Rob: “I remember the day the postman delivered a copy of Priest’s first ever album, [1974’s] ‘Rocka Rolla.’ The record label would only give us one album each. I was still living with my mum and dad back then, and I remember signing for the package and taking it up to my bedroom and going, ‘This is it! It’s all gonna happen!’ [Laughs] Little did I realize that there would be another 10 years’ slog before it got to a really important place.”
Rob, Sabbath had a few years headstart on Priest – they were already famous by the time you released your first album in 1974. What influence did they have on you?
Rob: “It was just the success they were having, that was the inspiration: ‘Oh god, they’re playing in the States!’ When your mates are doing something like that, it’s like, ‘Maybe we might get lucky and go over there too.’ Can you remember the first time you went over to America, Tone?”
Tony: “Yeah. We played at a club in New York called Ungano’s. We were all thinking, ‘Brilliant, it’s America, we’ve made it!’ And we turned up at this place and it was half the size of this room. Then we plugged in the gear and it blew up, ‘cos we didn’t realize the voltage was different. It was, like, ‘F*cking hell, is this it?’ Mind you, we supported Rod Stewart the next night and we went down better than he did… which he wasn’t very amused about.”
What was Priest’s first American gig like, Rob?
Rob: “It was in Columbus, Ohio, and we brought the ceiling down. It was a low ceiling, and the volume was so strong that it was shaking and the ceiling tiles were coming down. People were covering their ears. What a great night out.”