Longtime Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and will not be playing with Priest on the band's upcoming tour behind new album Firepower.
"I want everyone to know that it's vital that the Judas Priest tour go ahead and that I am not leaving the band — it's simply that my role has changed," says Tipton. "I don't rule out the chance to go on stage as and when I feel able to blast out some Priest! So at some point in the not too distant future I'm really looking forward to seeing all of our wonderful metal maniacs once again."
The guitarist was diagnosed with the onset of the early stages of Parkinson's ten years ago, but the degenerative disorder, which affects the central nervous system and motor system, has recently caused Tipton to be unable to perform all but the less challenging songs in Priest's catalog.
Tipton has requested that Firepower producer Andy Sneap play guitar in his place on the upcoming tour.
"There's been a lot of emotion today with the announcement, but we're very happy for Glenn, that he's been able to make a decision that's good for him and where he's at right now," vocalist Rob Halford told Kerrang!. "Glenn's thing was that this was all about the band. It was the band, the band the band. And we said, 'No, it's about what's best for you,' and he said, 'No, I want what's best for the band.' Which just goes to show you where his heart is at."
"The most important thing is that Glenn is still in Judas Priest," the vocalist continued. "It's just that his role is going to be different. He can't tour, but it's going to be great for fans when he comes out every now and then to do 'Breaking the Law' or 'Living After Midnight.' The love that we've had already has been amazing, and I know when he walks onstage whenever we do that, it's going to be something special."
Tipton played on every Judas Priest album since their 1974 debut, Rocka Rolla, and was part of the legendary guitar duo with K.K. Downing (who left Priest in 2011) that helped define the dual-guitar NWOBHM style on songs like "Breaking the Law," "Painkiller," "You've Got Another Thing Coming" and "Living After Midnight."
"We have been privileged to witness Glenn's determination and steadfast commitment over the years, showing his passion and self belief through the writing, recording and performing sessions with Priest — he is a true metal hero!" the band commented in a press release. "We are not surprised by Glenn's insistence that we complete the Firepower tour and thank Andy for joining us to make Glenn's wishes become real — as Glenn has said we also can't wait to have him with us at any time any place on the road.....We love you Glenn!"
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