Judas Priest announced that its longtime guitarist, Glenn Tipton, is taking a step back from touring due to his battle with Parkinson's disease. The heavy metal legends will embark on their Firepower Tour in March.
"Ten years ago Glenn was diagnosed to have the onset of the early stages of Parkinson's," the band said in a statement. "From then until recently Glenn has lived his life as the great heavy metal guitar player he has always been, maintaining by his own definition a standard of quality and performance that is incredibly important.
"Right now Glenn is able to play and perform some of the Priest songs that are less challenging but due to the nature of Parkinson's progression he wants to let you all know that he won't be touring as such."
Tipton added, in a personal statement: "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. 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.”
Tipton – who joined Judas Priest in 1974 prior to recording the band's debut Rocka Rolla – requested that guitarist Andy Sneap, take his place on tour. Sneap produced the band's upcoming album Firepower. However, Judas Priest left the possibility of Tipton joining the band onstage open during the trek.
"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," Tipton's band mates added in a statement.
"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."
Tipton is the second artist in as many months to be forced off the road by Parkinson's following Neil Diamond's announcement that he would immediately retire from touring due to the disease.