Rob Halford says that JUDAS PRIEST's Parkinson's disease-suffering guitarist Glenn Tipton is an "incredible, strong person" who is "still able to utilize certain techniques" to play the guitar.
Tipton was diagnosed with Parkinson's more than six years ago — after being stricken by the condition at least half a decade earlier — but announced in early 2018 he was going to sit out touring activities in support of PRIEST's latest album, "Firepower". He was replaced by "Firepower" album producer Andy Sneap, who is also known for his work in NWOBHM revivalists HELL and cult thrash outfit SABBAT. Tipton occasionally joins PRIEST onstage for its encores, performing "Metal Gods", "Breaking The Law" and "Living After Midnight".
Asked for an update on Tipton's health, Halford told Brutal Planet Magazine (hear audio below): "He's good. He's a hero. We talk about him in [the song] 'No Surrender', on 'Firepower'. He's just this incredible, strong person that sends out a message that if you're dealing with Parkinson's, you can still live your life. It's been very challenging for him as a musician, but he's not letting it stop him. He's still able to utilize certain techniques to use the guitar still, which is great. He's still an active member of JUDAS PRIEST. And he looks good, sounds good."
He continued: "I'll be talking to him later on this week, actually — we're having our end-of-year chatchat. And I can't wait to see him next year, because PRIEST is gonna go back on the road. I don't know whether Glenn's gonna be able to make any of the shows. Hopefully he will; it's totally up to him. He came out on some of the dates on the 'Firepower' tour, and the PRIEST fans go mental, they go ballistic when he walks out on stage. He's such a beloved person in many, many ways.
"But, yeah, he's good. And I can't wait to see him early next year when I get back over to the U.K."
Tipton turned 73 in October.
Bassist Ian Hill is the sole remaining original member of PRIEST, which formed in 1969. Halford joined the group in 1973 and Tipton signed on in 1974. Rob left PRIEST in the early 1990s to form his own band, then returned to PRIEST in 2003. Founding guitarist K.K. Downing parted ways with the band in 2011, and was replaced by Richie Faulkner.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, JUDAS PRIEST recently postponed most of its previously announced fall 2020 U.S. tour dates to the summer/fall of 2021.
In September, JUDAS PRIEST and Rufus Publications announced the publication of the first-ever official JUDAS PRIEST book documenting the band's extensive history over the last 50 years. Titled "Judas Priest - 50 Heavy Metal Years", the book has been put together by David Silver, Ross Halfin and Jayne Andrews.
Prior to being canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, JUDAS PRIEST's spring/summer 2020 European tour was scheduled to kick off on May 30 in Helsinki, Finland and conclude on July 28 in Tilburg, the Netherlands. The band was also slated to headline the U.K.'s Bloodstock Open Air festival on August 9 at Catton Park, Derbyshire.
The U.S. leg of PRIEST's "50 Heavy Metal Years" tour was due to launch September 9 in Oxon Hill, Maryland and wrap up on October 17 in Las Vegas, Nevada.