In a new interview with SiriusXM's Ozzy's Boneyard host Mark Strigl, JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford was asked if guitarist Andy Sneap will continue to tour with the band, five years after he was initially tapped to step in for Glenn Tipton, who is suffering from Parkinson's disease. Halford responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I think that's the idea, yeah. Glenn comes out when he's able. Glenn's still with us. Glenn's still a very important, integral part of JUDAS PRIEST and all the decisions and moves that we make.
"This fucking Parkinson's is horrible, the way it intrudes into your life and it takes away some of the things that made you as a person," Rob continued. "Thank God we've got all these incredible things that Glenn has done. Listen to his lead break on 'Painkiller', listen to that beautiful solo in 'Beyond The Realms Of Death' and more. Glenn's mark is indelible in JUDAS PRIEST music as a lead guitar player and a rhythm guitar player.
"So, yeah, we've agreed that because the fans have so loving and supportive of taking Glenn's idea, which is, 'I wanna put Andy on that spot, on the stage where I've stood for decades, and Andy will be doing the work that needs to be done for me,' that's just really powerful, man. That's so much love. And that really is Glenn's love for this band in wanting this band to continue.
"So, yeah, we've agreed that Andy will still be with us as we go out again, and that's great, man," Halford added. "That makes the great work he's done with us since he stepped in at the beginning of where we are in PRIEST now, and it worked — it worked. The fans love him. He does great work on stage. He's committed. He loves this band… He's doing very important work."
Last March, JUDAS PRIEST bassist Ian Hill was asked by The Aquarian Weekly why he and his bandmates reversed their decision to remove Sneap from their touring lineup. The U-turn came days after PRIEST's original announcement, in which the group said it had planned to resume its "50 Heavy Metal Years" tour as "an even more powerful, relentless four-piece heavy metal band." Sneap later released a statement expressing his disappointment with the decision, while fans were understandably upset about the band's choice to forgo its classic twin-guitar attack sound. Some even called for the return of guitarist K.K. Downing, who joined PRIEST in 1970 and remained in the group until 2011.
"When it became apparent that Glenn Tipton wasn't going to be able to do the 'Firepower' tour [in 2018], the first thing that Rob said was, 'Well, we'll carry on as a four-piece. We started out as a four-piece, so we can do it again,'" Hill recalled. "I'm a pragmatist, I see positives in most things, so at first I thought, 'Yeah, it'll work.' Then, when you start to think, you're, like, 'No. Really, all of our success is gained from the two guitars.'
"We decided to get Andy Sneap involved for that tour [in 2018]," Ian continued. "Andy was the perfect choice. He had just produced 'Firepower', so he knew all the new songs we'd be playing. He was a fan of the band, as well, so he knew all the old stuff. He was the perfect choice. Then suddenly, Rob gets the idea to do the four-piece thing again. He rang Andy up and told him. Andy was fine about it. But then we thought, 'There's been some [fan] comments and if we do it at all, this probably isn't the time.' So, we had a quick U-turn and asked Andy if he'd do it again. Thank goodness he said yes."
On January 15, 2022, JUDAS PRIEST released a statement announcing that it was reversing its decision to tour as a four-piece, explaining that the bandmembers "decided unanimously" to continue their live shows "unchanged" with Halford, Hill, Sneap, Richie Faulkner (guitar) and Scott Travis (drums).
In February 2022, Halford admitted to Billboard that PRIEST's short-lived plan to embark on its 50th-anniversary tour as a quartet was his idea. "Of course, that blew up in my face, didn't it?" he said. "To have done something like a four-piece now would've been just not right, ridiculous, insane, crazy, off my rocker, have a cup of tea and relax. It's kind of water under the bridge now. I think my heart was in the right place, but I'm not the first musician to have a crazy idea."
Sneap, who is also known for his work in NWOBHM revivalists HELL and cult thrash outfit SABBAT, began touring with PRIEST five years ago after Tipton — who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease eight years ago after being stricken by the condition at least half a decade earlier — announced in early 2018 he was going to sit out touring activities in support of "Firepower".
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 came back to PRIEST in 2003. Downing parted ways with the band more than a decade ago and was replaced by Faulkner.
In January 2022, Downing said in an interview that it was "very, very strange" for PRIEST "to even think about" the possibility of going out as a quartet. "I'm like everybody else. I'm totally bemused," he told the "Rock Of Nations With Dave Kinchen" classic rock show. "It was just so extreme and insulting in a way, I guess, and insulting to Glenn as well. It was kind of a slap in the face, saying, 'Okay, you two guys did it, but we think just one guy could do what…' It kind of made us and everything that we've done and created, saying it was all superfluous, really, and didn't really have the value that… I'm sure Glenn will agree with me that it does have a value."
JUDAS PRIEST received the Musical Excellence Award at last year's Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony, which honored Eminem, Dolly Parton, DURAN DURAN, Lionel Richie, Pat Benatar, EURYTHMICS and Carly Simon in the Performers category.
The JUDAS PRIEST members that got inducted include current members Halford, Hill, Tipton and Travis, along with former members Downing, Les Binks (drums) and late drummer Dave Holland.
At the ceremony, Halford, Hill, Tipton and Travis were joined by Binks, Downing and Faulkner for three-song medley consisting of "You've Got Another Thing Comin'", "Breaking The Law" and "Living After Midnight".