Judas Priest will play their upcoming tour as a four-piece after dropping guitarist and producer Andy Sneap from their live lineup.
The legendary metal act’s rescheduled 2022 North American tour kicks off March 4th in Peoria, Illinois, with tickets available via Ticketmaster. Initially, a statement from the band suggested that the split was amicable, with Sneap leaving to concentrate on production — including work on Judas Priest’s next album.
Judas Priest stated, “Hello maniacs! We are chomping at the British Steel bit to return to world touring… celebrating 50 years of Judas Priest as an an even more powerful, relentless four piece heavy metal band – with Glenn [Tipton] coming out on stage with us here and there as before. Big thanks to Andy for all you’ve done and continuing to be in the production team for our new album… See you all soon headbangers!”
Sneap then issued a statement (via Blabbermouth) clarifying that the decision was not necessarily mutual:
“Rob [Halford] called me last Monday and said they wanted to move on as a four-piece, which I find 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. This always was a temporary situation, and like I’ve said before, I’ll always help the band any way I can, and that applies going forward also. I’ve been a huge fan of the band since the early ’80s and it was mind-blowing to play onstage with the guys and quite frankly terrifying in the beginning at such short notice. We are moving forward with the new album next month and look forward to making a killer follow-up to Firepower.”
Sneap produced Firepower and initially joined Judas Priest to fill in for guitarist Glenn Tipton, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2018 and now only performs with the band onstage on rare occasions. In Tipton’s stead, Sneap — who cut his teeth as a founding member of British thrash band Sabbat — performed admirably alongside fellow axeman Richie Faulkner.
The news is especially surprising for a couple of reasons: One being that Priest are known for their twin-guitar attack, with Tipton and former member K.K. Downing providing an iconic one-two punch for decades prior to Faulkner replacing Downing. The other being that Faulkner recently underwent emergency life-saving heart surgery after his aorta ruptured onstage during the band’s gig at the Louder Than Life festival in September. Priest must feel fully confident in his recovery to make him the lone guitarist in their touring lineup.
Faulkner’s health ordeal forced the band to postpone the remainder of their fall US tour only a few shows in to the outing, with the spring jaunt serving as the new itinerary. Pick up tickets here.