Rob Halford says that JUDAS PRIEST's Parkinson's disease-suffering guitarist Glenn Tipton "will always be a fully integrated member" of the band.
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 "Talk Is Jericho" (hear audio below): "He's been dealing with Parkinson's for a long, long time. He had it forever, and he didn't even know he got it until they began all these trials and tests. And they said, 'You know this started in body so many years ago.' I'm, like, God, I can't believe that he was still able to go out and work. It's a horrible, horrible, cruel thing for anybody to have to deal with. And so Glenn's still bravely battling on.
"Glenn is and always will be a fully integrated member of PRIEST," Rob continued. "He's back in the U.K. now probably riffing. He's still able to play the guitar, and he's still writing music. And his name will be all over the next bunch of PRIEST songs when we finally get back into the world of being able to write and record again for some more sessions.
"We've got this Glenn Tipton Foundation, and our beautiful fans around the world have already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, which goes to research," Halford added. "You can do that by going to any PRIEST socials and finding the connection — if it's a dollar, whatever, anything, penny, whatever. We also put the bike out in front of the show for everybody to sit on, put a buck into the pot, ten bucks into the pot, whatever. We're always raising cash, 'cause with anything like this, whether it's Parkinson's, cancer, whatever, there's never enough money to fund research. So it's all good."
Tipton turned 73 last month (October 25).
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.