In the early ’60s, folk music icon Joan Baez often campaigned for peace and civil rights alongside her then-boyfriend – the obscure folksinger named Bob Dylan. Whom she introduced to the world at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963. Ever since, she has balanced art and activism, using her name and fame to oppose war and capital punishment while fighting for human rights and the environment.
In an interview with Darryl Sterdan of QMI Group, she was asked about Judas Priest’s amazing classic cover of her song “Diamonds And Rust” that masterpiece can be found on their 1977 album, Sin After Sin.
So, what did Baez think when she heard Priest’s version of the song?
“I love that! I was so stunned when I first heard it. I thought it was wonderful. It’s very rare for people to cover my songs. I think there are a couple of reasons. One is they’re personal -- they don’t have a universal quality to them. And I think maybe it’s because I’ve already sung them, and who wants to compete with that? But it’s always flattering when somebody does.” – Joan Baez
Joan Baez “Diamonds and Rust” 1975
And, where was Rob Halford’s head when the idea was brought to him?
“It was 1978 and I remember we were all together and someone from the label or the management came in and said, ‘Listen to this song. The label would like you to consider covering it.’ And when we put it on, all we heard was Joan Baez singing this song with her guitar, and your knee-jerk reaction is…
‘Are you fucking crazy?”
“We’re a heavy metal band.’ But again, typical of Priest, we’re like, ‘What’s the logic behind this?’ And then after a couple of listens, we decided it was a good song. And a good song will take any kind of interpretation. It opened the door for us in radio in a lot of ways, and I think that for the first time, a metal band was able to get the kind of accessibility.” -- Rob Halford