JUDAS PRIEST bassist Ian Hill says that the band's Parkinson's disease-stricken guitarist Glenn Tipton is a "street fighter" who is "doing about as well as anybody given his condition."
Tipton was diagnosed with Parkinson's five years ago — after being stricken by the condition at least half a decade earlier — but announced in early 2018 he was going to sit out touring activities in support of PRIEST's latest album, "Firepower". He was replaced by "Firepower" album producer Andy Sneap, who is also known for his work in NWOBHM revivalists HELL and cult thrash outfit SABBAT. Tipton occasionally joins PRIEST onstage for its encores, performing "Metal Gods", "Breaking The Law" and "Living After Midnight".
In a recent interview with Japanese music critic and radio personality Masa Ito of TVK's "Rock City" (video below), Hill was asked how Sneap has been faring in place of Tipton. "He's doing a really good job," Ian said. "Glenn suggested him to start with and he's a perfect match because, obviously, he's familiar with all the new stuff from the 'Firepower' album, because he produced it. Knowing something and learning something, anything, really, knowing the structure, you're halfway there. Andy had it comparatively easy to pick up on the new material. He's a friend of the band anyway. He's been listening to the old stuff and he's familiar with that, too. He still pulled off the miracle in getting the whole setlist together in a matter of two weeks. He's up in his studio; he lives 20 miles from us. I was driving up there and going through the songs with him. I had a drummer friend as well who stood in. He did a great job. Of course, as the tour has gone on, he's gotten more confident and found his place. He's put in some very good performances."
Even though he's afflicted with Parkinson's disease, Tipton has joined PRIEST onstage several times throughout the "Firepower" touring cycle, much to the delight of the band's devoted fanbase. Hill was asked to gauge the crowd's reaction from his point of view. "The crowd loves it," he said. "The fans love it when he walks out. He's been coming out for the encore. We play the set and he walks out on his own and of course, everybody goes wild to see Glenn. It's great for him, really. It's great for us because he's taking part. It's great for the fans because they get to see Glenn and it's good for him as well. It's almost therapeutic for Glenn. It really helps him focus, he's got something to concentrate on. It's good all around."
According to Hill, Tipton is doing "as good as anybody" suffering from Parkinson's "could ever be." He added: "He's a street fighter. If anybody could beat this thing, it's going to be him. He's doing really, really well. I mean, there's new medications and treatments coming out all the time. Don't write him off. He might find something that will keep it at bay and he will come up and play more songs possibly. But he's doing about as well as anybody given his condition."
"Firepower" was released last March via Epic.
PRIEST will return to the United States in May for a run with fellow classic heavy rockers URIAH HEEP.