Yesterday, it was revealed that guitarist Glenn Tipton was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease ten years ago, and that he would be stepping away from touring due to the progression of the disease. Now, in a new interview with The Quietus, Rob Halford has further opened up about the announcement.
Halford said the following:
“Glenn has been battling hardcore with Parkinson’s for 10 years and he’s not let it stop him in any way whatsoever — you know, writing, recording, touring the world for the last 10 years. He can still play guitar — we have to emphasize this as well — he can still play the guitar, but when it comes to some of the more challenging songs that PRIEST has written over the years and songs that, for the most part, have to be included in the set, that’s when it’s just becoming a little bit difficult for him. So the biggest thing for Glenn — this is why he’s really a hero for us — was to come to the conclusion that Andy Sneap would be flying the flag for him. We know Andy, and Andy has been so gracious to accept the request from Glenn, to be on stage for him for the ‘Firepower’ tour.”
Halford went to say there is still possibility that the guitarist could join the band onstage at some point on during the upcoming trek:
“The great positive side of this for us and for Glenn particularly is that he’s not let this challenge change his life that much. Glenn is still Glenn — Glenn can still play the guitar. Same guy — a wonderful, great heavy metal guitar player. His role is a little bit different now. And I can’t wait for those moments when he’s gonna show up unexpectedly anywhere around the world on the ‘Firepower’ tour and come and jam out ‘Living After Midnight’, ‘Breaking The Law’, those kinds of songs. It’s gonna be a really special moment. It could be the first show, it could be the last show — we don’t know. But the joy is that Glenn is still playing and he’s still with us, and he’s as excited as we are to celebrate the release of ‘Firepower’.”
Halford, said it is “an open book” in terms of how much involved Tipton will be “’cause we’re still kind of digesting all of this.” He continued:
“Glenn made the decision about not being able to full commit to the tour only last Thursday [February 8]. So we’re still very much processing all of the possibilities. The other thing is, much like some of the other areas in these kinds of challenges, daily, there are incredible advances in medicines, in drugs and such things that can help to alleviate the condition. So that’s all part of the ongoing story for Glenn. Who knows? Next year or the year after that, things could be dramatically different. But in the meantime, yeah, Glenn can show up, as we’ve said in the statement, anytime anywhere.”
He also added that Tipton will be there “in spirit — every show, every song” and that he was touched by the fans’ support:
“I’ve been [checking my phone] every hour or so, and it’s just been beautiful — it’s been absolutely beautiful,” he said. “Thank you, everybody that’s been sending these wonderful messages for Glenn. I know he’ll be reading them and I’m sure he’ll be so uplifted by the love that’s coming to him.
This is the other side of anyone that’s dealing with Parkinson’s, cancer, anything of that nature. There’s always this beautiful thing of hope and optimism and positivity that’s pushing ahead of everything else. And so if you do go on to the Facebook of PRIEST or our Instagram and leave a message like that, it’s not only great for Glenn, but it’s also great for other people that are dealing with the same kind of issues.”