Rob Halford has dismissed as "unfortunate" K.K. Downing's statement in which the former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist insinuated that producer Andy Sneap was covering Glenn Tipton's parts on the band's new album.
Two weeks after Tipton announced that he was retiring from the road due to his battle with Parkinson's disease, Downingreleased a statement in which he said that he was "shocked and stunned" that he wasn't approached to rejoin the band and suggested that Sneap's "contribution to the new JUDAS PRIEST album was much more than just as a producer." His comments appeared to get a rise out of Halford, who fired back that "a lot" of K.K.'s statement was "completely superfluous" and dismissed as "a thousand percent false" the idea that Tipton didn't personally lay down all of his guitar work on "Firepower".
Downing later walked back his comments, saying that he only meant to say that Sneap probably not only produced "Firepower" "but also contributed song ideas, riffs and licks, lyric ideas etc. Even George Martin, I believe, provided much more for THE BEATLES than just the role of a normal producer," he explained. "An extra musician in the studio, like the aforementioned talented producers, really does bring a great benefit."
In a brand new interview with Rolling Stone, Rob said that he "thought the timing of K.K.'s statement was a little bit suspect, quite frankly. Why now? This band is a very private band when it comes to things like this, and it detracts from all the great things JUDAS PRIEST has done and is still doing," he said. "It was just unfortunate. I personally had to respond to the insinuation that Andy was doing Glenn's guitar work. That was just not true. I wanted to get it off my chest."
Downing announced his retirement from PRIEST in April 2011. He has since been replaced by Richie Faulkner, who was once the guitarist in the backing group for Lauren Harris, daughter of IRON MAIDEN bassist Steve Harris.
PRIEST bassist Ian Hill recently shot down the possibility of Downing returning to the band, explaining: "He retired seven years ago and he made it clear at the time that he didn't wanna come back. So I'm surprised that he's saying that he was surprised that he wasn't asked. I think we all thought he probably would have been surprised if we had asked him."
In his original statement, Downing said that he knows "now more clearly than ever" that he did the right thing by leaving the band when he did "as it seems that my time spent in the band, and my value in terms of crafting its huge legacy, was and is unappreciated by more than one member."
Tipton, who is now 70 and has performed on every PRIEST album since the band's 1974's debut set, "Rocka Rolla", is not quitting the band, but simply cannot handle the rigorous challenges of performing live. Joining PRIEST for its upcoming dates will be Sneap, a former member of SABBAT who has most recently played with HELL.
"Firepower" is being released today (Friday, March 9) via Epic.
The North American leg of the "Firepower" tour will kick off on March 13 in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania and will wrap on May 1 in San Antonio, Texas.