Parkinson's disease has forced legendary guitarist Glenn Tipton to drop out of the upcoming Judas Priest tour.
The British rockers say Tipton is stepping down from touring due to the ailment, which began to afflict him a decade ago. In a statement issued Monday, the band said Tipton can still play some of their less-challenging songs, but he insisted that a replacement be named for the tour.
Tipton will be replaced on the band's "Firepower" tour by Andy Sneap, a veteran heavy metal producer, and the guitarist for the British band Hell.
"I want everyone to know that it's vital that the Judas Priest tour go ahead, and that I am not leaving the band; it's simply that my role has changed," Tipton said. "I don't rule out the chance to go on stage ... when I feel able to blast out some Priest! So at some point in the not too distant future, I'm really looking forward to seeing all of our wonderful metal maniacs once again."
The band's tour begins March 13 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Their biggest hits include "You've Got Another Thing Coming,' "Living After Midnight" and "Breaking The Law."
Tipton was the lone remaining original member of Judas Priest's twin-lead guitar attack that powered solos on tracks including "Electric Eye" and "Hell Bent For Leather." Guitarist Richie Faulkner replaced the other founding guitarist, K.K. Downing, in 2011.
Tipton's bandmates Rob Halford (vocals), Ian Hill (bass), Scott Travis (drums) and Faulkner called Tipton "a true metal hero."
"We are not surprised by Glenn's insistence that we complete the 'Firepower' tour and thank Andy for joining us to make Glenn's wishes become real," they said. "We have been privileged to witness Glenn's determination and steadfast commitment over the years, showing his passion and self-belief through the writing, recording and performing sessions with Priest."
Last month, Neil Diamond announced his retirement from touring, also citing Parkinson's.