In an announcement that came earlier today, long-time Judas Priest guitarist Glen Tipton announced that he will not be joining his band on their spring tour dates. His battle with Parkinson’s disease has made it difficult for him to perform live shows. Tipton is handing over his duties to Andy Sneap, who co-produced the band’s lasts album, ’Firepower’ and has a lengthy resume as both as a producer and a musician.
For the uninitiated, the British-born, 48-year-old Sneap got his start as a founding member of Sabbat, who released three albums from 1988 and 1991. After the band’s breakup, Sneap built a recording studio in Derbyshire so that he could work on his own demos and record local bands. Over the years he gained expertise as an engineer, mixer and producer, soon attracting the attention of established metal acts as Exodus, Napalm Death and Machine Head.
In 2001, Sneap’s studio expanded to a 15-acre residential farm. He would go on to produce albums by Megadeth (‘United Abominations’), Accept (‘Blood of the Nations,’ ‘Stalingrad,’ ‘Blind Rage’) and Testament (‘Dark Roots of Earth’).
When metal masters Hell reunited in 2008, 20 year after the death of guitarist Dave Haliday, Sneap came on board. It was a somewhat fitting addition as it was Haliday that taught Sneap to play guitar when they were growing up together. Sneap said, “Unfortunately, he never got to see where [playing guitar] took me in life. But when he died, he left me all the rights to all his songs – and all his equipment. I don’t know why he had faith in me, to be honest. He must’ve seen something in me, I guess.” Sneap recorded two albums with Hell: 2011’s ‘Human Remains’ and ‘Curse and Chapter.’
According to Judas Priest’s official statement, Sneap was Tipton’s hand-picked choice to take over his role in the band. Tipton added that he has not closed the door completely to live shows, and that there might be a show here and there where he may rejoin the band.
Part of Priest’s sonic appeal has been its twin-guitar attack. This is the second change to their lineup in as many albums. Founding guitarist K.K. Downing quit the band in 2011 and was replaced by Richie Faulkner, with whom they recorded 2014’s ‘Redeemer of Souls‘ and the new ‘Firepower.’
Judas Priest’s new tour begins in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on March 13. Check out all the dates. The ‘Firepower’ album is set for a March 9th release date.