Kymberli Hagelberg of Ohio's The Beacon Journal reports that Tim "Ripper" Owens was "not available" Friday (July 11) to comment on the announcement that he has been replaced in JUDAS PRIEST by his predecessor, Rob Halford.
The announcement of Owens' departure apparently came as news to his former wife.
"As far as I know these are just rumors," said Leslie Anderson, who added that Owens was out of town with their daughter.
As previously reported, Tim has been has been passing time recently by making numerous live appearances with the Ohio-based cover band THE SICKNESS, whose lineup includes two of Owens' former bandmates, bassist Dennis Hayes (formerly of Tim's pre-PRIEST band WINTERS BANE) and drummer Tim Semelsberger (from an early Ripper-fronted cover band, U.S. METAL). THE SICKNESS' next live appearance is scheduled to take place on Friday, July 25 at Mangos in Alliance, Ohio.
Owens, who some fans believe would be a perfect fit for the currently singer-less ICED EARTH, joined JUDAS PRIEST in 1997 when he was picked to audition for the group on the basis of a grainy video of his performance in a tribute band.
A friend of the band saw Owens with his tribute act, BRITISH STEEL, and passed a tape of the live show to the remaining members of JUDAS PRIEST in England.
According to JUDAS PRIEST's official statement announcing Halford's return to the group, Owens' departure was amicable. "The band is very grateful for Ripper's work in helping them to continue to bring JUDAS PRIEST's music to their millions of fans and they expect big things from him in the future."