Guitarist Andy Sneap, who has occupied the live guitar spot opposite Richie Faulkner in Judas Priest since 2018, will remain with the band on their upcoming 50th anniversary tour, singer Rob Halford recently confirmed.

When longtime axeman Glenn Tipton revealed he was battling Parkinson's Disease and could no longer perform live at a the required level, Priest turned to Sneap at the time, who had co-produced the band's latest record, Firepower. Tipton has still made the occasional onstage appearance since, playing a couple songs late in the set with the rest of the group, which still appears to be the plan moving forward.

Halford, while speaking with Metal Pilgrim, provided an update on the group's progress in the studio as well as what lies ahead on the road.

Regarding what will be Judas Priest's 19th full length, the 'Metal God' suggested the band will engage in two or three additional writing sessions before the recording phase is underway.

"We feel we've got an album [written], pretty much, but we're very self-critical and self-analytical of the work that we do, because we know we have a treasure trove of metal behind us, and we don't want to drop the heavy metal world; we want to make sure that this has the same essence, the same characteristics, the same class and quality that all of the Priest albums have had. And so it'll be ready when it's ready — I say that all the time. But I think we're close. It's gonna be sooner rather than later — that's the best thing to say," declared Halford (transcription via Blabbermouth).

While Faulkner is flush with new ideas, Tipton is still contributing to the writing and remains very much entrenched in the band's activities despite no longer being able to play live in a full time capacity.

Halford, who was recently given the honorary title of Kentucky Colonel by the state's governor," continued, "Obviously, [Tipton] plays guitar differently now because he's got this thing in his life — Parkinson's — that he battles daily. But he's never let that diminish him. He's able to construct songs in a way that makes his input as valuable as it ever was. And so I know for a fact, because we stay in touch, he's been building his own bunches of ideas, and Richie's up in Nashville doing the same thing."

Reaffirming Tipton's status in Priest, Halford said, "So, again, Glenn is still actively involved with Judas Priest, a hundred percent."

"Andy is still standing in that spot for Glenn with Glenn's blessing… It's pretty much a given [that Andy will remain in the touring lineup]. And my gratitude to Andy. It couldn't have happened in a better way, if you want try and make something good out of it," added Halford.

"It was a really important day when Glenn said, 'I think it's probably best if I step to the side and maybe we should let Andy come in.' That was just a really beautiful act of selflessness," he went on. "That's Glenn treasuring Priest and Priest's reputation, particularly in live concert more than anything else. So bless Glenn for that. And as a result, Andy stepped in and did amazing work on the Firepower tour, and we're looking forward to doing the same thing with him on this 50th-anniversary [tour].

Halford expressed his own desire to see Tipton out onstage, even if he's not playing guitar.

"And don't discount the fact that Glenn can show up," foretold the Metal God. "He plays the guitar differently, but there's no reason why Glenn can't show up and do some work. I mean, I've said to Glenn, 'Just walk out on stage and do that to everybody [flashes devil horns], and the people will just go fucking crazy, because you are loved so much.' But I've got a feeling that Glenn's gonna be making the occasional appearance on this 50th-anniversary [tour]."

Judas Priest's North American tour with Sabaton kicks off on Sept. 8 and you can see all of the upcoming dates here.

Rob Halford Speaks With 'Metal Pilgrim'

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