While Judas Priest is larger than life, even a metal god has to take a break every now and then. That’s why even as we’re starting to hear what the new album will sound like, Rob Halford is prepping to go into surgery. He told ABC News Radio that he’s undergoing surgery to repair an umbilical hernia. Essentially, that means that he has a bulging protrusion around his belly button – the ultimate outtie – which is intestine, fat or fluid pushing through a weak spot in the belly. He tells ABC that not only does it hurt, but “it looks like the alien just burst forth!”
Halford says, “My doctors always said, ‘We can take care of it,’ and I said, ‘I’ll get around to it.’ [The doctor said,] ‘If it’s not giving you any discomfort then you should leave it as it is,’ but it’s not very appealing to look at, is it?”
It says that Halford has a good attitude about the oncoming surgery, stating “The wonderful thing about heavy metal music is that it’s immortal. The music is immortal, but the creators are not bestowed with that attribute.” That’s actually a good segueway to another happening in the world of Judas Priest. Before Halford was even in Judas Priest, there was a version of the band in 1969 and 1970 with original vocalist Al Atkins. The guitarist was Ernie Chataway. The original version of the band broke up in 1970, and Atkins joined up with Ian Hill, Kenny Downing and John Ellis to form what would ultimately turn into the current version of the band. The reason we bring this up is that Chataway has apparently died at the age 62. Blabbermouth states that Atkins said the following via his Facebook page, although it doesn’t appear to be on the page now:
“Just heard the very sad news that Ernie passed away last night. He was a lovely bloke and a great guitarist and will be sadly missed. “I remember the first time we met at the auditions for a new guitarist for JUDAS PRIEST in 1969 — his looks reminded me of Marc Bolan. When he plugged in his guitar, he totally blew us away, and made [later JUDAS PRIEST guitarist] KK Downing look a complete amateur (who we’d auditioned earlier).
“I’m completely in shock and will sadly miss you, my old buddy.”
It’s unfortunate to hear about Chataway’s passing. The guitarist also played in Earth, and was apparently in Rocky Cool and the Icebergs before being replaced when Robert Plant joined the band and changed the name to The Honeydrippers.