Richie Faulkner says that "there has been no discussion yet" about whether JUDAS PRIEST can continue beyond the "Firepower" album and tour without Glenn Tipton performing with the band.
Tipton, who is now 70 and has appeared on every PRIEST album since the band's 1974's debut set, "Rocka Rolla", is not quitting the band, but simply cannot handle the rigorous challenges of performing live due to his battle with Parkinson's disease. Joining PRIEST for its upcoming dates will be the band's co-producer and HELL/ex-SABBAT guitarist Andy Sneap.
Speaking to Greg Prato of Long Island Pulse, Faulkner stated about Tipton's Parkinson's battle: "Glenn has been fighting it for years and we have all been aware. Glenn is a very private guy and he kept it to himself; he didn't go public with it. But it got to the point where we were in rehearsals, and in true Glenn Tipton fashion, he's fighting to the last minute. He's pushing, he's trying because he wants to give a thousand percent to the fans. And in the end, he just had to hold his hands up and say that he wasn't able to tour. But Glenn is by no means leaving JUDAS PRIEST. He is still in PRIEST, he is still involved in PRIEST and he is still going to be involved in creative decisions and creating new music. And he will be coming out as and when he is able to do various appearances with us. That will be great."
Asked if there has been any discussion about whether PRIEST can continue beyond this album and tour without Glenn performing with the band, Faulkner said: "There has been no discussion yet. I think the focus is dealing with the challenges that we've got at the moment, and getting out on the road with the 'Firepower' record. And doing what we do best: playing live for our fans around the world. Anything beyond that is a discussion that still needs to take place. The focus is very much on now, the tour and the record."
Faulkner also confirmed that PRIEST did not ask co-founding guitarist K.K. Downing to rejoin the band following Tipton's decision to retire from the road. "As far as I'm aware, [Downing] left the band," Richie said. "He didn't want to be a part of the band, and as far as I'm aware, I don't know if the band thought that he'd want to come back. He gave his priorities to other things and that's fair enough. Glenn wanted Andy to step in and cover his live stuff and that's what we're doing. The great thing about Andy is he doesn't want to be seen as 'the new guy in JUDAS PRIEST.' He's there covering Glenn. I think that's a noble attitude for someone to have and I think that's when you know you've got the right guy to fill in."
"Firepower" will be released on March 9 via Epic.
The North American leg of the "Firepower" tour will kick off on March 13 in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania and will wrap on May 1 in San Antonio, Texas.