Yesterday, February 27th, former Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing published a blog post discussing Glenn Tipton's recent decision to bow out from touring with the band, due to his battle with Parkinson's disease. In it, he described feeling "stunned" when the band didn't ask him to rejoin and goes on to imply that Tipton's replacement, producer Andy Sneap, acted as an in-studio crutch during the making of the band's upcoming album Firepower. "I have no doubt that his contribution to the new Judas Priest album was much more than just as a producer," he wrote.
One day later, Judas Priest singer Rob Halford has fired back at Downing in an interview with "The Freaks with Kenny & Crash" show on Phoenix's Fox Sports 910. Deeming most of his former bandmate's statement "completely superfluous," the frontman took particular ire at Downing's suggestion that Sneap covered Tipton's guitar parts on Firepower, and went on to passionately argue the opposite.
"I can categorically state that that is a thousand percent false," Halford said of Downing's claims, "because I was with Glenn for all of his guitar work, and he worked really, really hard. Imagine this guy in the tenth year of Parkinson's. I've never seen anybody so brave in the fact that every song was a challenge for him to make it work, but he did — consistently, day after day. It was just a very powerful thing to experience firsthand. And this just goes to show you about the amazing stories that surround individuals around the world that are dealing with Parkinson's in their life."
"Everything you hear from Glenn on Firepower is the amazing Glenn Tipton," Halford concluded, definitively.
UPDATE: Downing has released a follow-up statement on his blog clarifying his remarks about Sneap:
"Just to clarify, my complimenting Andy Sneap as I did was no more than I would have said about any other guitar playing producers that have also contributed much more than expected to our past albums. Great talent such as Chris Tsangarides (R.I.P) and Roy Z both not only produced – but also contributed song ideas, riffs and licks, lyric ideas, etc. Consequently, albums like Painkiller and Angel of Retribution would not have been the same without them. Even George Martin, I believe, provided much more for the Beatles than just the role of a normal producer. An extra musician in the studio, like the aforementioned talented producers, really does bring a great benefit."
UPDATE 2: Judas Priest bassist Ian Hill has weighed in on the fracas in a new interview with Metal Wani, addressing Downing's non-involvement in the band's post-Tipton lineup. "I don't know where Ken is coming from, to be honest," he said of his former bandmate's statement. "He retired seven years ago, and he made it clear at the time that he didn't wanna come back, so I'm surprised that he's saying that he was surprised that he wasn't asked. I think we all thought he probably would have been surprised if we had asked him."
"It's a bit like your quarterback retiring," he went on to add. "You replace the guy, and then two or three years down the line, [when the replacement] gets injured, you're not gonna come back to the guy that just retired. You'll find somebody else, and it's pretty much the same thing."
Firepower is out March 9th via Epic, with an accompanying North American tour set to kick off shortly thereafter. Find the full list of dates here, and read our cover story interview with Rob Halford if you haven't already.
Below, Rob Halford breaks down the lyrics to Judas Priest's single "Lightning Strike":