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Judas Priest open up on Glenn Tipton’s Parkinson’s battle

Exclusive: Judas Priest’s Rob Halford and Ian Hill talk about the moment guitarist Glenn Tipton admitted he couldn’t carry on due to his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis

Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford and bassist Ian Hill have reflected on the moment guitarist Glenn Tipton told them he couldn’t carry on due to his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.

It was revealed yesterday that the 70-year-old was suffering from the disease and would miss the majority of the band’s upcoming tour dates in support of upcoming album Firepower.

Halford says: “As we said in the statement, Glenn’s been battling with this for 10 years, he’s been touring for 10 years, writing for 10 years, recording for 10 years – and it was only until last Thursday that he came to the conclusion that it was not going to be.

“He said, and this is typically Glenn, ‘I can’t do this because it’s not right for the band. If I go out, it’s not right for the band.’

"He’s always thought about the band, always thought about the band first, so we know how difficult it was for him to make that decision and I think we were all relieved that he’s been able to find some balance and harmony in making that decision.”

Hill reports that they went through a similar situation with the guitarist when they were rehearsing for their Redeemer Of Souls tour four years ago and adds: “When he started then, he was shaky, but, as we went through, he was getting better every day.”

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He continues: “At the end of the second week, he was ready to go. He put in a superb performance on the last tour, and we were all hoping that was going to happen again. But after the first week, it was obvious to all of us that it wasn’t getting any better.

“But Glenn being Glenn, he’s nothing if he’s not a scrapper. He will fight tooth and nail to make it happen and in the middle of last week, in the middle of rehearsals, he had to admit it. We were all hearing this and we were living it with him. We felt every note.

“He came in and he made the bravest decision anybody will ever make, saying, ‘I can’t do it any more.’ There wasn’t a dry eye in the control room where we were sitting at the time.

“It’s not like he’s been stupid and fell off his motorbike or got whacked out on some drug – it’s not a stupid decision he’s made, he just can’t do it. He said, ‘Guys, my brain is telling my hands to do something and they’re not doing it’ and he had to admit that to himself as well as us.”

Hill confirms that the band will be taking Tipton’s equipment on the road with them so he can join them onstage for some songs, and adds: “When he was doing the album he was fine – he was okay for 10 minutes or so to run through a song. But standing there for two hours and after a while you can see he’s got no stamina there.

“But who knows? Strides are being made in medical science all the time, so we’re all hoping and praying that somewhere along the line somebody comes up with something that at least controls his symptoms if nothing else, so he can get out and at least play through a few songs with us on stage.”

Firepower will launch on March 9 via Columbia Records, with tour dates set to commence from mid-March.

From the archive

Judas Priest 2018 Firepower tour dates

Mar 13: Wilkes Barre Mohegan Sun Arena At Casey Plaza, PA
Mar 15: Youngstown Covelli Centre, OH
Mar 17: Uniondale Nassau Coliseum, NY
Mar 18: Washington The Anthem, DC
Mar 20: Newark Prudential Center, NJ
Mar 22: Uncasville Mogehan Sun Arena, CT
Mar 25: Ottawa The Arena At TD Place, ON
Mar 27: London Budweiser Gardens, ON
Mar 28: Oshawa Tribute Communities Centre, ON
Mar 30: Rama Casino Rama, ON
Mar 31: Detroit Masonic Temple, MI
Apr 03: Milwaukee Riverside Theater, WI
Apr 05: Green Bay Resch Center, WI
Apr 08: Bloomington Grossinger Motors Arena, IL
Apr 10: Casper Events Center, WY
Apr 11: Loveland Budweiser Events Center, CO
Apr 15: Kent ShoWare Center, WA
Apr 17: Portland Veterans Memorial Coliseum, OR
Apr 19: San Francisco The Warfield, CA
Apr 22: Los Angeles Microsoft Theatre, CA
Apr 24: Phoenix Comercia Theatre, AZ
Apr 26: Tulsa BOK Center, OK
Apr 28: Dallas Bomb Factory, TX
Apr 29: Sugarland Smart Financial Centre, TX
May 01: San Antonio Freeman Coliseum, TX
Jul 19: Athens Rockwave Festival, Greece
Jul 21: Plovdiv Hills Of Rock Festival, Poland
Jul 31: Munich Zenith, Germany
Aug 08: Dortmund Westfallenhalle, Germany
Aug 10: Bloodstock Festival, UK

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