Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton, who has been in the band consistently since 1974 and has played on every album, has sadly been forced to retire from touring due to being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He personally requested Sabbat's Andy Sneap (who produced the upcoming Judas Priest album) to be his replacement. A statement from Judas Priest reads:

Ten years ago Glenn was diagnosed to have the onset of the early stages of Parkinson's - from then until recently Glenn 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 you all know that he won't be be touring as such -

True to the metal spirit of 'the show must go on' Glenn has requested Andy Sneap to fly the flag on stage for him

"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"

Rob, Richie, Ian and Scott have 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!"

As previously mentioned, Judas Priest's tour includes NYC-area shows on March 17 at Nassau Coliseum and March 20 at Prudential Center (tickets). Those shows (and all other North American dates) are with Saxon and Black Star Riders (featuring members of Thin Lizzy. Judas Priest's new album Firepower comes out March 9 via Epic. Listen to the recently-released title track below.