Judas Priest’s Glenn Tipton Refused to Use Backing Tapes
Judas Priest announced last month that longtime guitarist Glenn Tipton would be sitting out most of their upcoming tour as a result of Parkinson's disease, but the news didn't come before the band explored all their options.
Frontman Rob Halford says the band floated several alternatives to him sitting it out, including hiring an extra guitarist to play offstage as needed, as well as having Tipton play to backing tapes.
The ideas were rejected by Tipton, who Halford calls a "purist" in an interview with Japanese journalist Masa Itoh, which you can listen to above.
Tipton, 70, joined the band prior to the release of their debut album, 1974's Rocka Rolla Though he was diagnosed a decade ago, and played on the band's latest album Firepower, which was released on Friday, he's no longer able to handle the rigor of touring. Producer Andy Sneap will perform with the band in his stead, with Tipton making appearances to play a song or two when he feels able.
"He began to feel the symptoms of Parkinson's 10 years ago. Parkinson's is a degenerative condition, it's making him very uncertain about being able to play at the level of his guitarmanship," Halford said. "Glenn's style is very special and unique in metal and once he felt that Parkinson's was not making him able to achieve that level, just recently, only a few days ago, he made the decision that it was not possible for him to play on the 'Firepower' tour.
"But, as we said in the statement, Glenn is able to still play guitar. He's able to play the simpler, easier Judas Priest songs, but the songs that are more challenging, 'Painkiller,' 'Freewheel Burning,' 'Exciter,' these are too much, too much," he added. So, Glenn will be coming out when he feels ready to join Priest. Just to make an appearance, maybe one song, two songs, three songs, anywhere in the world."
Though the band chimed in with possible alternatives, Tipton rejected them, wanting to do what's best for the band. "We were making rehearsals just recently. We could see he was having tremendous difficulty and we wondered, 'Will we be able to tour? Is there a way to make him able to tour with some kind of support with another guitar or backup tapes or something like that?'" Halford said. "And we had initially suggested that to Glenn. But Glenn is a purist in performance and his feeling was that he didn't want to have anything assisting him while he was playing live. So, as a result of that, when he made this decision, he made the decision and said, 'I want to do what's the best for the band. Not what's the best for me.' He was always thinking about the band, not thinking about himself: 'I don't want to go on tour with Priest because I'm going to compromise the band's performance.' It's such a very selfless, beautiful expression of the 'Show must go on, the band must continue.'"
The band kicks off its Firepower tour on March 13 in Wilkes Barre, Penn.