Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton has revealed that he's been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease — and will be sitting out most, if not all, of the band's tour dates in support of their upcoming Firepower LP.

Tipton, 70, joined Judas Priest prior to the recording of their first album, 1974's Rocka Rolla, and has remained a steady fixture of the lineup since. According to a statement issued by the band, Tipton isn't quitting, although he's currently only able to "play and perform some of the Priest songs that are less challenging" and "due to the nature of Parkinson's progression he wants to let you all know that he won't be be touring as such."

In Tipton's stead, Judas Priest will be joined on their upcoming dates by producer and Hell guitarist Andy Sneap, who helmed Firepower as well as a long list of recordings by artists such as Slayer and Megadeth. While Sneap's presence should help steady the lineup in a turbulent time, Tipton's absence will obviously be keenly felt.

In his portion of the band's statement, Tipton assured fans he won't "rule out the chance to go onstage as and when I feel able to blast out some Priest," adding that "at some point in the not too distant future I’m really looking forward to seeing all of our wonderful metal maniacs once again." The rest of the lineup, meanwhile, offered their own tribute to their fellow metal vet.

"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," reads a quote from the other members of Judas 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!"


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