The band announced earlier this month that it would continue its '50 Heavy Metal Years' tour in March as a quartet, leaving touring guitarist Andy Sneap to refocus on his career as a producer. (Longtime guitarist Richie Faulkner is eager to get back onstage after a near-fatal cardiac incident during the Louder Than Life festival last September.)
But in a new update, the band says it has reconsidered: Sneap will remain a member of Judas Priest's touring party, alongside Faulkner, drummer Scott Travis, frontman Rob Halford and co-founder and bassist Ian Hill.
"Hello metal maniacs…given all that has recently evolved and transpired we have decided unanimously as a band to continue our live shows unchanged with Rob, Ian, Richie, Scott, Andy and Glenn [Tipton, guitar] joining us whenever he’s able...so see you all soon as we forge ahead celebrating 50 massive heavy metal years of Judas Priest together!"
Though unclear what precisely "transpired," it appears the four-piece idea came about without Sneap actually weighing in on his career ambitions. Sneap, who coproduced Judas Priest's 2018 Firepower album, made it clear last week that he was in no hurry to walk away from a role in one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time.
"Rob called me last Monday [January 3] and said they wanted to move on as a four-piece, which I found incredibly disappointing after this amount of time, but I respect his decision, as they obviously have a vision how they want this to play out," Sneap told Blabbermouth in a statement released a week ago.
Sneap began touring with Judas Priest in 2018 to support Firepower after Tipton announced he had to step aside from live performances due to advancing Parkinson's disease. Tipton, who helped revolutionize heavy metal when he joined Judas Priest in 1974, remains a full member of the band, but his condition precludes him from performing a full live set night after night.
Tipton has made a point of appearing onstage with the band, usually for a song or two, when he feels up to it.