Rob Halford says that there are no plans for JUDAS PRIEST to retire, even though guitarist Glenn Tipton announced that he was stepping away from the road due to his battle with Parkinson's disease.
Tipton found out he had Parkinson's four years ago — after being stricken by the degenerative condition at least half a decade earlier — but only recently announced he was going to sit out touring activities in support of PRIEST's latest album, "Firepower". The guitarist, who is now 70 and has performed on every PRIEST LP since the band's 1974 debut set, "Rocka Rolla", is not quitting the band, but simply cannot handle the rigorous challenges of performing live. He is being replaced on the road by "Firepower" producer Andy Sneap, who is also known as the guitar player in NWOBHM revivalists HELL and cult thrashers SABBAT.
"We know what Glenn has been up against, and he has showed us the absolute proof that there is no such thing as retirement in the PRIEST plan," Rob tells Maximum Ink. "Glenn has been forging ahead for the last 10 years with Parkinson's disease and he never once mentioned retiring or quitting. This is really a strong signal from Glenn and the rest of us. Why should we even consider retiring now? We still feel that there is another song to do, another show to do, and always our beautiful fans to see again and again. You retire when things get too shaky and a bit of sadness. That's not the case with PRIEST. We're probably stronger now than we have been, and I think Glenn would agree with that."
Halford and PRIEST bassist Ian Hill previously spoke about a potential end to the band on the "Metal Hammer Podcast".
"I cannot conceive of us ever saying, in 2022, at 3 o'clock, on a Wednesday afternoon, July, we're gonna end," Rob said. "I think more than ever now, we're so joyed and grateful that we've been able to get this far from the support of our fans that you don't say a farewell tour, you don't say retire. I think slowly but surely we'll just play less and less and less, but I can't see that for the foreseeable future.”
Ian explained that it's virtually impossible for PRIEST to ever stop considering the large number of tour offers the band receives.
"Where don't you play?" he said. "New album, tour coming up, all of these offers are coming from all over the world… so you're right back into touring again."
"You've got to go where your fans want you," added Rob. "You can arrange the touring in a different way, but you can't just got to A, then to C, and miss B out, because those people have supported you for 30, 40 years. You try to explain to them that you're not coming to B so they have to travel a thousand miles to A or C. We can't be that as a band, as people. So we're just going to keep going and going and the end will come when it chooses to show its face."
In 2011, PRIEST embarked on its world run of "Epitaph" shows, at the time billed as a farewell tour. It wasn't long, however, before the members of PRIEST changed their minds, with Halford crediting the addition of guitarist Richie Faulkner, who replaced original member K.K. Downing just prior to the "Epitaph" tour, with rejuvenating the band and causing everyone to reconsider.
"Firepower" was released on March 9 via Epic.
The North American leg of the "Firepower" tour will wrap on May 1 in San Antonio, Texas.