When Glenn Tipton was forced to retire from full-time touring activities due to his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease, he and his PRIEST bandmates opted to hire Andy Sneap to step in, having gotten to know the British-born, 50-year-old producer when he helmed the group’s latest album, “Firepower”.
Speaking at a guitar clinic at Pitbull Audio in San Diego this past January, George said (see video below): “I still to this day love PRIEST. I wish they would call me up and hire me. Glenn Tipton, hello?”
JUDAS PRIEST bassist Ian Hill recently said that it was up to Sneap to decide if he wants to carry on playing guitar for the band after the completion of the “Firepower” world tour. “Andy is now, these days, first and foremost a producer,” he explained. “Whether he wants to go back and do that full time or not, it’ll be a mutual decision when the time comes. Andy will be more than welcome to stay. He’s done a tremendous job over the last year or so, really. He’s done a great job stepping in for Glenn… We were only about three weeks away from starting the tour [laughs], and Andy stepped in and did a great job. He pulled a real rabbit out of the hat in learning a complete setlist of songs in such a short period of time. He pulled it off anyway. And as time’s gone on, obviously, his stage presence, he got more comfortable with that, and he’s performing great now. So when the time comes… We’ll give it to the end of this run and then see what everybody wants to do. As I say, he’ll be more than welcome to carry on with us if that’s his plan.”
Asked if PRIEST had anyone else in mind for the guitarist slot if Sneap ever decided to return to full-time producing, Hill said: “No, not at the time being. The plan is to tour [in 2020] with 50-year celebrations. And if Andy’s with us, great. If he wants to carry on with producing, we’ll more than understand that. He’s done a tremendous job and he’ll go with everyone’s blessing.”
Tipton was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease six years ago — after being stricken by the condition at least half a decade earlier — but didn’t announce he was going to sit out touring activities in support of “Firepower” until February 2018. The guitarist, who is now 72 and has performed on every PRIEST record since the band’s 1974 debut set, “Rocka Rolla”, is not quitting the band, but simply cannot handle the rigorous challenges of performing live.
JUDAS PRIEST will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year with a world tour coming to the U.S. in the summer/fall. The “50 Heavy Metal Years Tour” will feature support from SABATON.