Rob Halford wants to make it clear to fans that Glenn Tipton is still a member of JUDAS PRIEST. The guitarist announced earlier today that he will be sitting out the band's touring activities as a result of his battle with Parkinson's disease, with which he was diagnosed a decade ago.
In an interview conducted several hours ago, the JUDAS PRIEST singer spoke to U.K.'s Kerrang! magazine about what Tipton's revelation means for the band.
"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," Halford said. "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."
Tipton — who joined JUDAS PRIEST in 1974 prior to recording the band's debut album, "Rocka Rolla" — will be replaced on the road by Andy Sneap, who produced PRIEST's upcoming album, "Firepower", and who is an accomplished guitarist in his own right.
"The most important thing is that Glenn is still in JUDAS PRIEST," Rob told Kerrang! "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."
"Firepower", the band's 18th album, will be released on March 9.
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. Support on the trek will come from SAXON and BLACK STAR RIDERS.