Judas Priest Guitarist, Glenn Tipton, Steps Off Upcoming Tour

Parkinson’s disease (PD) has a new face, a rock and roll legend. Glenn Tipton, guitarist for the British heavy metal band Judas Priest has announced that he will be leaving the band’s upcoming tour due to the challenging symptoms of Parkinson’s. Just 3 weeks earlier, Neil Diamond announced he was also going to stop touring immediately and would no longer be performing in public.

Putting a face to the disease

For many years, PD was rarely talked about in public. Parkinson’s has no definitive cause and no cure. It is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by a loss of control of motor movements. Many people used drug therapy to moderate symptoms and to maintain a normal life without discussing their condition. Michael J. Fox, who suffered from young onset Parkinson’s, began to put a face on the disease and bring wider acceptance and deeper funding to explore treatments and potential cures.

The loss of motor control and vocal changes has a significant impact on musicians like Tipton and Diamond, Linda Ronstadt, and Maurice White of Earth Wind and Fire. Glenn Tipton is an original member of the heavy metal band Judas Priest founded in 1974.

Diagnosed at age 60, Tipton has spent the last 10 years traveling the world, playing guitar, writing, and recording with bandmates Ian Hill, Rob Halford, Richie Faulkner, and Scott Travis.1 Now 70, it is the effects of Parkinson’s, not age, that have sidelined Tipton. Challenging guitar riffs synonymous with Priest and many other metal bands are just too much at this point for Tipton. He is known for his complex, classically influenced solos. His performance and playing were suffering from the effects of his PD. Recognizing that the show must go on, Tipton has handpicked a tour successor, Andy Sneap, producer of the most recent Judas Priest album Firepower, and the similarly named tour.2

Tipton has announced that he is not leaving the band. He will continue to be a part of the creative team and hopes to be able to jump up on stage when he feels able to play some of the “less challenging” Priest classics. The band has expressed its support of Tipton and the effort he has put in over the last 10 years despite enduring symptoms of PD. Bandmates have issued statements welcoming Tipton’s continued participation, and gratitude for his support of the future of the band, and the upcoming tour.3

About Judas Priest

Judas Priest formed in Britain in 1969, and broke onto the world rock scene in 1974 with their debut studio album entitled Rocka Rolla. 29 albums and 44 years later, the band still is producing new music and entertaining “metal maniacs” around the world. The band is best known for songs like You’ve Got Another Thing Coming, Living After Midnight, and Breaking the Law; and its daring fashion style.

Challenges as an expert guitarist

Throughout the years Tipton incorporated new techniques into his playing. Now the challenges he faced as an expert guitarist are reflected in the accommodations he has had to make at work. He has been managing the effects of his PD by modifying his playing and his role in the band. The need to adapt is similar to some challenges that others with PD face in their own jobs. Adapting to limitations you may face with Parkinson’s can be difficult. How to tell people, especially at work, can be uncomfortable. Yet the increasingly public face of the disease helps raise awareness and acceptance of Parkinson’s disease.

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