Original JUDAS PRIEST singer Al Atkins has commented on the band's recent announcement that it will head out on its farewell world tour beginning in 2011. The group intends to hit all major cities across the globe as they sign off on a career that has lasted for nearly 40 years. The "Epitaph" tour will launch on June 9, 2011 at the Sweden Rock Festival and hit a number of European festivals throughout the summer, with more dates yet to be confirmed.Stated Atkins: "News coming in from the JUDAS PRIEST camp is that they will be doing a farewell tour next year in 2011, which will be a sad event for thousands of their fans worldwide. "It was forty years ago when I first formed [JUDAS PRIEST] alongside [then-]18-year-old K.K. Downing [guitar] and Ian Hill [bass] — doesn't time fly past you when you're not looking? — and after four years fronting them, I left, to be replaced by Rob [Halford]. I have watched them grow into the metal gods that they are and can honestly say they deserve everything they have achieved over this time and they will leave us a legacy of great memories and brilliant metal anthems. I wish them all the luck with their 'Epitaph' farewell tour." Atkins is the co-writer of several PRIEST songs which are included on the band's first two albums, "Rocka Rolla" and "Sad Wings of Destiny", both of which eventually went gold. Atkins co-penned the heavy metal classic "Victim of Changes", which was a combination of Rob Halford's song "Red Light Lady" and Atkins' own "Whiskey Woman". He also co-wrote "Winter", "Never Satisfied", "Dreamer Deceiver" and "Caviar and Meths". In 1989 Atkins released his debut solo album, "Judgement Day", to great acclaim. But it was "Heavy Thoughts" and "Victim of Changes" (the latter being his collaborative album with ex-JUDAS PRIEST drummer Dave Holland) that brought him strong sales and critical acclaim around the world. JUDAS PRIEST bassist Ian Hill penned the foreword to Al Atkins's autobiography, titled "Dawn of the Metal Gods: My Life in Judas Priest and Heavy Metal". The book, which was written with Neil Daniels — a freelance rock writer and heavy metal fan who befriended Atkins during the writing of Neil's book "The Story Of Judas Priest: Defenders Of The Faith" (Omnibus Press) — was released last year via Iron Pages.