News broke earlier this week that Glenn Tipton would not be touring with Judas Priest due to the fact that he has been fighting Parkinson’s Disease for around ten years, and is at the point where he can no longer go out on the road with the band. He may show up here and there to play on a track or two, but a decision was made in an effort to give the fans the best Priest show possible. It seems as if he can no longer pull off some of the more difficult tracks, and would rather step away and let someone the band felt comfortable with fill in for the tour.
Almost immediately the belly aching started, I began reading posts on social media like “they should change the name”, “what dicks they sold a tour knowing Glenn wouldn’t be a part of it”, etc. The oddest, maybe most hypocritical thing I read was something to the effect of “I’m not sure I can see Priest without Glenn, it just isn’t the same”. The post came from the drummer of a well known Bay Area Thrash band, who isn’t actually the original drummer in the band. Ok for him, but not Priest?
In any event, lead singer Rob Halford spoke to The Quietest earlier this week, and clarified the issue a bit, stating that the decision was only made a few days ago.
So let’s cut the band some slack here, should they have released a press release saying “sorry guys, life just got in the way”. People need to be a little more realistic, and realize that although they may place bands on pedestals, they’re like the rest of us, and are subject to the same diseases we’ve all dealt with ourselves in one way or another. And before people get their panties in a bunch, the band also has no other viable option but to play these shows. There is a huge amount of money that is involved when bands go out on tour, like with other professions, there is money given in advance, to procure the band’s services, and plenty of fine print involved in the event that the band backs out. If the band isn’t paid, well they have the right to walk away, and take the promoter to court, but if it is the other way around, the band stands to lose a ton of money. It is easy to say “they’re rich, they can handle it”, it doesn’t exactly work that way, the band is penalized, even rearranging dates costs bands money. Think of all of the people that are employed due to a show, that aren’t even associate to the band. The ushers, concession stand workers, security, carpenters that get paid to setup the stage, etc. who in some cases get paid whether the show goes on or not. Any wages due ultimately comes out of the band’s pocket. Imagine missing a day of work, and not only not getting paid, you have to pay your boss for a deadline not being met, and any bonuses you may have received in the last year. Don’t know of too many people that would say “screw it, it’s only money”.
They aren’t the only band to do this, The Who had to go out shortly after John Entwistle had died, and Ozzy famously toured with Brad Gillis and Bernie Tormé shortly after Randy Rhoads passed away. So what is the band supposed to do? The show must go on…..or we’re out a boatload of money. The situation sucks, and I’m sure the band would rather regroup back home, but honestly probably can’t afford to do so, or would rather forge ahead than deal with any legal wranglings.
Andy Sneap is no slouch either, look at the work he’s done producing or mixing bands like Megadeth, Accept, Exodus, Machine Head, and Testament, and many others. And you actually have to go no further than listening to the two tracks Priest have already released off of their upcoming album Firepower. When a popular radio host said “I know him as a producer but I don’t know how good he is on guitar”, I though give me a break, do some research, especially with such a hot topic. This same guy kept blasting people for not giving Richie Faulkner a chance when he took over for K.K. Downing, and now questions someone that’s just worked with the band in the studio, and been playing in bands like Sabbat and Hell since 1985. Yes, I realize he wasn’t in U.F.O. or some other band that was a lot more well known, but if you were ever remotely a reader of Metal Hammer or Kerrang, you would of known full well about Sneap’s playing. This reminds me of people bitching about Kiko Loureiro joining Megadeth, and people criticizing the decision because they were not familiar with Kiko’s work in Angra. So because you don’t know of a band personally, he has to suck right? He was in Guitar World for years, I’d think they’d be a good litmus test as to a player being worthy of being in their pages or not.
Think about it, would you think Priest would just bring someone in because they were some cheap ham and egger they met on street corner? Again, they’re not in the business of losing money. Much like Richie, I’m fairly confident Sneap will do just fine.
Would it have been cool for K.K. Downing to come back? Would it have been better received? The answers are yes, and yes, but does anyone know exactly why he left the band? Do we know how the band and their management feel towards K.K. in 2018? Maybe they just don’t want him involved? Or maybe we’ll see him with the band in the future at some point? There are a lot of unknowns when talking about K.K.
As for changing the name, I’m always going to give the same response, what are they supposed to do, start painting houses instead? People don’t look at this realistically, you’ve had a business for 50 years, and one of the most important cogs in that business decides it’s time to retire, imagine having people anonymously calling, writing letters, and banging on the front door saying “Jimmy McCracken is gone, you need to change your businesses’ name”. How annoying would that be? And sorry to the elitists out there, the name Judas Priest sells more than the name Halford or Fight. That doesn’t mean either of those bands suck, it doesn’t diminish the great work Rob Halford has done under both of those banners, they just aren’t on the same level when it comes to pitching the band to a promoter. So unless they have agreed to retire the name after this touring cycle, don’t expect to see the name go away anytime soon. “Well then it’s just going to become Rob Halford’s tribute to Judas Priest”, or “great, Ian Hill joined the band two months after it started, no more original members.” To the casual fan, unfortunately, as long as the voice sounds similar, they honestly won’t care who else is in the band, see Journey and see Foreigner as perfect examples, where a band doesn’t even have the guy that made them most famous behind the mic, and people still go see them play. To us die hard fans, Glenn is a metal god, but to most people that only know the radio hits, Rob Halford is person in the band they identify with, much like David Lee Roth or Bruce Dickinson for their respective bands. As important as it was for Adrian Smith to come back to Maiden, Bruce is the guy most people think of, sorry, that’s just how it is.
With people like Ronnie James Dio, and Lemmy dying of cancer, and Mr. Big drummer Pat Torpey dying of Parkinson’s a few weeks back, you’d think people would be a bit more level headed with a situation like this, have a little more compassion. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be, and I get it, the news was so sudden, and people want to see Glenn, at least one last time, and be able to say their goodbyes. But here is a case where they’ve stretched it out as far as they can, and unfortunately the band’s personal life has gotten in the way of their public life. You have to also think that the same people making these critiques of the band, would have also gone to town on him had they of advertised this was Glenn’s last tour.
Thank you Glenn Tipton for all the joy your music has brought to us over the years. Your music has easily influenced millions of musicians, and has helped more than one of us through that never ending day at work, and some very hard times in our lives.