April 16, 2024

JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford says that he misses "terribly" the band's guitarist Glenn Tipton who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease 10 years ago — after being stricken by the condition at least half a decade earlier.

Tipton has been rejoining PRIEST on stage at select shows during the band's recently launched "Metal Masters" European tour with SAXON and URIAH HEEP. Tipton usually appears with PRIEST for the encore, performing "Metal Gods" and "Living After Midnight".

Tipton announced in early 2018 he was going to sit out touring activities in support of JUDAS PRIEST's "Firepower" album. He was replaced by "Firepower" and "Invincible Shield" album producer Andy Sneap, who is also known for his work in NWOBHM revivalists HELL and cult thrash outfit SABBAT.

In a new interview with Classic Rock magazine, Halford said: "It was very, very difficult for me when we went out for the first time without Glenn. God bless Andy Sneap — he's done a brilliant job and no disrespect to him — but I do miss Glenn terribly when we play live. So when he does come out to have a bang, it's, like: 'My God!' It feels so great."

Also full of praise for Tipton was PRIEST guitarist Richie Faulkner, who joined the band in 2011 as the replacement for founding guitarist K.K. Downing.

"It's absolutely vital that Glenn is part of the songwriting team," Faulkner said. "Rob, Glenn and me, we go into a room with ideas and throw them around. Whatever challenge Glenn has got, that's what he deals with. If he could play, he would play. If he couldn't, then I'd take it on. We helped each other out like that.

"Glenn's like an older brother," he continues. "When I joined he took me under his wing as the other guitar player. When we were on the road, we'd go out together. So when he pulled back from touring, I did feel like my brother wasn't there. But I know what it's like to have something threaten your future career or your ability to play guitar."

Glenn recently spoke to Total Guitar magazine about his contributions to PRIEST's latest album, the aforementioned "Invincible Shield". He said: "I played what I could and am very proud of the whole album. Richie helped a lot. I think his strongest attribute is his ability to adapt to different styles whilst maintaining his own very strong character. PRIEST require a guitarist who can shift from out-and-out metal to more melodic tracks."

Glenn continued: "Obviously the drawback for me now is Parkinson's, and I've had to pass a lot of work onto his shoulders. I keep pushing myself because I believe in 'no surrender'. This disease won't beat me, and I will continue writing and playing for as long as I can."

Faulkner also spoke to Total Guitar about the "Invincible Shield" and how it was affected by Tipton's illness. He said: "With Glenn's situation, he wasn't playing as much lead as before. But that's okay, we didn't want that to impede the process. If Glenn was having a good day, he'd play the part. If he couldn't, I'd do it.

"We didn't want him to worry," Faulkner explained. "He brought songs to the table like 'Sons Of Thunder' which is a classic three-minute track in the style of 'Hell Bent For Leather'. Glenn is the master of that stuff. He was as involved as he could be and it was important for us to involve him."

In a separate interview with Bryan Reesman of The Aquarian, Faulkner spoke about Tipton's contributions to "Invincible Shield". Asked how many ideas Glenn worked on and how Richie collaborated with him on all the guitar parts, Faulkner said: "We all go away separately after a tour and put down riff ideas and song ideas and melody ideas. He was the same, really, so when we get in a room together — me, Glenn and Rob — we get those ideas out. We put those ideas on the table, we play them back for each other. Glenn did the same. He had a few more ideas that were more developed — 'Sons Of Thunder', 'Escape From Reality', 'Vicious Circle', stuff like that — so we worked on those. It was no different in that regard. He was able to sit in a studio [to] take time and play the ideas that he was putting forward. And when he had an idea and we were together, if he couldn't play it that day, then he would translate it through me and we'd hash it out.

"If Glenn can play it, then he'll play it, and if he can't play it, then I'll take on the workload," Richie explained. "I mean, what's wrong with that? I'm a guitar player and I'm a fan. I love the guys. That's your duty — if something needs to be done, guitar or otherwise, you do it. You step up, you know? That applied to the recording, as well. There are some things on there that he played, and he could write. It was important to us to involve him, and it probably was just as important for him to be involved as much as he could after doing it and being a genre-defining guitar player for the last 50 years."

Asked where Glenn's soloing pops up on "Invincible Shield", Richie said: "Glenn's influence is more than just the solos. There are solos on 'Sons Of Thunder' and 'Vicious Circle', and it goes beyond that. As we said before, the little twists and turns musically… and the vibe. When you play songs and solos by both K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton on an intimate level for 13 years, I don't think you can help but have that become part of your DNA, as well, so I think you can hear stuff from Glenn in my playing as well as what I've learned from him in the last 13 years. On something like 'Panic Attack', there are some sweep picking stuff that was never part of my repertoire. Playing songs like 'Painkiller' on an intimate level becomes part of your repertoire, so it shows up on the record. So apart from the songwriting ideas he had, the songs he had, some of the solos he had, it's in my playing as well. He's infiltrated my DNA in that sense — along with Ken [K.K.], of course, and along with Zakk [Wylde] and Michael Schenker and people like that. I think [Glenn's] influence can't be overstated either."

In his first interview since revealing his condition in early 2018, Glenn, who turned 76 last October, told Guitar World magazine about his diagnosis: "It was upsetting, but I wasn't really shocked because I sort of thought it was Parkinson's. I probably hoped it wasn't but the doctor said it was."

Regarding being told by the doctor that he had likely already had the disease for between 10 and 15 years, Glenn said: "Hearing that I already had Parkinson's for a long time made me even more determined to fight. I could still play, so I just continued recording and touring."

About a month before the opening date of PRIEST's "Firepower" tour, Tipton realized he could not guarantee that he would be able to execute an energetic, precision performance with the band night after night and "decided that it was really going to be too much for me," he told Guitar World. "With the medication and the time zone changes and everything else, I realized it was time to retire — from touring at least. I don't ever want to compromise JUDAS PRIEST. It's too big a part of my life.”

"Invincible Shield" arrived on March 8 via Sony Music.

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