Ten years ago, JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Glenn Tipton was diagnosed with the onset of the early stages of Parkinson's disease. From then until recently, the 70-year-old musician has lived his life as the great heavy metal guitar player he has always been, maintaining by his own definition a standard of quality and performance that is incredibly important.
Right now, Glenn is able to play and perform some of the PRIEST songs that are less challenging but due to the nature of Parkinson's progression, he wants to let the fans know that he won't be be touring with the band.
True to the metal spirit of "the show must go on," Glenn has requested PRIEST producer and HELL guitarist Andy Sneap to fly the flag on stage for him.
Glenn said: "I want everyone to know that it's vital that the JUDAS PRIEST tour go ahead and that I am not leaving the band — it's simply that my role has changed. I don't rule out the chance to go on stage as and when I feel able to blast out some PRIEST! So at some point in the not-too-distant future, I'm really looking forward to seeing all of our wonderful metal maniacs once again."
Tipton's PRIEST bandmates had this to say: "We have been privileged to witness Glenn's determination and steadfast commitment over the years, showing his passion and self belief through the writing, recording and performing sessions with PRIEST. He is a true metal hero!
"We are not surprised by Glenn's insistence that we complete the 'Firepower' tour and thank Andy for joining us to make Glenn's wishes become real.
"As Glenn has said, we also can't wait to have him with us at any time any place on the road. We love you, Glenn!"
Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, which leads to progressive deterioration of motor function due to loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. As the symptoms worsen, it gets harder to cope with everyday tasks and lead an independent life.
Parkinson's disease affects one in 100 people over age 60. While the average age at onset is 60, people have been diagnosed as young as 18.
The exact cause of Parkinson's disease is unknown, although research points to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Pat Torpey, the longtime drummer for rock group MR. BIG, died last week due to complications from Parkinson's disease.
JUDAS PRIEST's new album, "Firepower", will be released on March 9 via Epic. The disc was recorded by Sneap, the band's longtime collaborator Tom Allom and engineer Mike Exeter (BLACK SABBATH). The cover artwork for "Firepower" was created by the Chilean/Italian digital artist and photographer Claudio Bergamin.
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.
Photo credit: Mark Weiss