How Judas Priest Got a Lifetime Ban From Madison Square Garden

Rob Halford recalls how Judas Priest received a lifetime ban from Madison Square Garden in an exclusive excerpt from his memoir Confess: The Autobiography.

The British band’s performance at the legendary New York venue in 1985 was its second visit, and singer Halford hoped it wouldn’t be the last. But after fans rioted and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage, they’ve never been allowed to return.

A statement by the publisher calls Confess ”the story of an extraordinary five decades in the music industry” and “the tale of unlikely encounters with everybody from Superman to Andy Warhol, Madonna, Jack Nicholson and the queen. More than anything else, it’s a celebration of the fire and power of heavy metal.” Confess: The Autobiography is on sale now.


We headed back down into America. In Madison, Wisc., we had to shelter 10,000 people under the bleachers of the Dane County Coliseum as a tornado approached. Glenn [Tipton] and I snuck a peek out of a back door and boggled at the low black, blue and vivid green clouds overhead as sirens wailed and the storm raged.

Then, just over a week later, our own tornado hit New York City. A second gig at Madison Square Garden, in a way, meant even more than our first: It hadn’t been a one-off! We had become a band who could play the Garden regularly! Or so we thought. Unfortunately, this was to be our last-ever show there.

It was a great, regular gig until the encore. As we came back on and I began wailing “Living After Midnight,” I caught sight, out of the corner of my eye, of a flying object. Huh? What was that? And here came another one … and another one … . As the song ended, I