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Judas Priest's Halford to open community-owned rock venue

Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford has backed community drive to save closure-threatened pub and he will be on hand for its official re-opening

Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford will officially re-open an English pub that was saved by local rock and metal fans.

The Metal God will be at the Sir Charles Napier pub in Blackburn, Lancashire, on September 17 (Saturday) to celebrate the successful campaign to save the venue, which had been under threat of closure.

The pub will now be the UK's first community-owned rock venue, according to the people behind the campaign to save it.

Alex Martindale of community group Save The Napier says: “I’ve been a regular in the Napier for the last 20 years. A 50-strong group of regulars has been working hard as a community to secure the future of the pub.

"We can’t wait to welcome everyone to celebrate the reopening of our community rock venue.

“We have ideas for the continued development of the Napier, including innovative digital and print marketing, restoring the front door to its former glory, working with the college, serving food, extending the opening hours and making the pub welcoming to a broader range of clientele.”

Regulars took on the lease of the building as a Community Interest Company in June 2016 and have refitted the pub, including installing a purpose-built music venue and a kitchen.

The campaign received support and funding from a range of investors, Kickstarter backers, fundraising events and grants.

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Halford has supported the campaign since July of last year, when he appeared online in a video encouraging rock fans to support local community venues such as the Napier.

The Judas Priest star said: "It's great, not only for music but for the community as well – it keeps the community together. You can't beat these kind of venues."

Saturday's launch event is completely sold out.

Darwen Borough Council's Councillor Phil Riley says: “We have worked hard with Alex Martindale and his team and with the owners, Thwaites, to bring the pub back into use and look forward to it re-opening and helping to revive Blackburn’s night-time economy.“

Judas Priest are currently working on the follow-up to 2014's Redeemer Of Souls. Their track Night Comes Down has been covered by Katatonia. The song features on Metal Hammer magazine's Decades Of Destruction CD, which comes with the 30th anniversary collectors' edition of the magazine. It's out now in print and via TeamRock+.

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