In an interview on musicaficionado.com Rob Halford confessed his worst time on stage ever: “This was in Toronto, and it was the very last show of the Painkiller tour in 1991. It was the gig when I was knocked out while riding my Harley on stage. What happened was, we were in the dressing room, and somebody ran in to tell us that the intro tape had started. Somebody had played it too early, because usually the tape begins when we’re on the side of the stage, about to go on.
“All at once, we’re running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Because it was this big baseball stadium, the only way we could get to the stage was on these golf carts. So we all jump on thee carts and race to the stage. I got there pretty quickly with Glenn [Tipton]. He ran out on stage to his side, and I got on the bike behind the drum riser. For this particular tour, the bike came out with the drum riser for the first song, Hell Bent for Leather. The steps of the riser were on these hydraulics that rose up—everything was usually timed perfectly.
“Because of the mix-up with the intro tape, they had decided to re-start the show. Only thing was, nobody had told me, so I came roaring out on the bike. The crew, however, had already started to bring down the steps. As I flew out, my head hit the bottom step of the staircase, knocking me 360 off the bike. I was out cold. I’m on the floor and the bike had gone in some other direction. So there I am, I’m underneath this dry ice, and as I came to I could hear the band playing ‘Hell Bent for Leather’ as an instrumental for the first time. [Laughs] Maybe the audience thought we were trying out a new opening.
“Nobody could find me because I was underneath the dry ice. Suddenly I could feel this foot tapping me, and I looked up to see Glenn kind of nudging me. It was like something out of Spinal Tap. The band got to the end of the song, and all the fans are confused—’Where’s Rob?’ Finally, I was lifted out of the dry ice and a cheer went up. Everything stopped for a few minutes—’Are you OK?’ ‘Yeah, I’m OK.’ But the truth is, I wasn’t OK. I was in a lot of pain and was somewhat dazed. But I got on with it and made it through the show. It crossed my mind at times, ‘Maybe we should stop,’ because I didn’t know how badly I’d been injured. But you get caught up in the moment. Once your metal maniacs are cheering you on, you get immersed in the performance.
“At the end of the show, the ambulance people put me in a neck brace and onto a stretcher, and they brought me to the hospital. They did a full-body X-ray, and as it turned out, all I had was a case of severe whiplash. So it wasn’t too bad, although I did have to wear a neck brace for a week. It could have been a lot worse. All things considered, this was probably my most difficult and challenging show ever. But hey, that’s rock ‘n’ roll. It’s not meant to be smooth and perfect.”