The award is "given to artists, musicians, songwriters and producers whose originality and influence creating music have had a dramatic impact on music." It's a special honor, but it also serves as a distinction from the outright performer category induction Judas Priest's 2022 Rock Hall classmates will enjoy.
"Well, yeah, I was pissed. I was a bit pissed," he told AZ Central. "Some days, I go, 'No, it doesn't matter. We're in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Be grateful. Shut the hell up.' And then there are other days where I'm like, 'God damn, why did they give us the Musical Excellence Award?' Because it sounds very, you know, grandiose. 'The Musical Excellence Award, reserved for blah, blah, blah.'
"And I'm like, 'Yeah, but I want to be with that bunch of musicians over there that have got the [performer category] or whatever it is that they've got.' I don't know why they gave us the Musical Excellence Award. I have no clue."
After years of lobbying for Judas Priest to be in the Rock Hall, Halford says his modicum of frustration is "a bit silly," but it's real.
Still, Halford and Judas Priest are eagerly awaiting their Rock Hall enshrinement in November. And fans are hoping the ceremony includes a reunion with co-founding guitarist K.K. Downing, who left the band in 2011.
Regardless of any misgivings about the Musical Excellence Award, Judas Priest will be in good company. Prior recipients of the award include Ringo Starr, Nile Rodgers, Randy Rhoads, the E Street Band, LL Cool J, Chet Atkins and others.