Tim "Ripper" Owens has praised Rob Halford, saying that the legendary JUDAS PRIEST frontman is "singing better now than he has in a long time."
Owens joined PRIEST in 1996 and recorded two studio albums with the band, 1997's "Jugulator" and 2001's "Demolition", before PRIEST reunited with Halford in 2003.
During a January 10 appearance on SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation", Owens said that he has been impressed with Halford's performances on last year's "Firepower" tour.
"I think Rob's probably singing better now than he has in a long, long time," Tim said. "He sounds absolutely phenomenal. And it's great to hear some of these classic songs that he's singing on stage. That's a great thing… Like I said, Rob is singing so good now — he really is. And he looks good, and I think he feels good."
Owens also talked about guitarist Glenn Tipton's decision to retire from the road due to his battle with Parkinson's disease. Tipton has since been replaced on tour by "Firepower" album producer Andy Sneap, also known for his work as the guitar player in NWOBHM revivalists HELL and cult thrash outfit SABBAT.
"It's unfortunate with Glenn, because he was the life of the party," Tim said. "I imagine he still is; I don't think that's gonna change. And he's an amazing guy.
"If Glenn said 'no more JUDAS PRIEST,' there would be no more JUDAS PRIEST — that's my thinking on it. But he wants to carry on. He can get up there every now and then [and play a few songs with the band]. There's nothing more that he would wanna do than get on stage. "
Tim lamented the fact that original PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing is no longer involved with the band, having left the group eight years ago due to behind-the-scenes turbulence, including his strained relationship with Tipton and his gripes with certain managerial decisions. He has since been replaced by Richie Faulkner, who was once the guitarist in the backing group for Lauren Harris, daughter of IRON MAIDEN bassist Steve Harris.
"Richie is a great guy, a fantastic player," Owens said. "In a perfect world, it would be awesome to see K.K. and Richie up there at the same time, 'cause Richie is more of a Glenn-style player anyways. Obviously, that's not gonna happen now since [K.K.'s] book [came out], probably.
"Listen, it is what it is," Tim continued. "They're doing some great concerts, probably having some of the biggest crowds now than they have had in a long time. The new record was great. And they can continue to play… I think it's great. And the great thing about it is the blessing from Glenn to go, 'Hey, let's get someone else to play and let's continue on.'"
Owens currently tours the world as a solo artist and performs as the lead singer of several bands, including SPIRITS OF FIRE, CHARRED WALLS OF THE DAMNED, A NEW REVENGE, DIO DISCIPLES and THE THREE TREMORS. Additionally, the movie "Rock Star" (Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston) was loosely based on Owens's time in JUDAS PRIEST.