Judas Priest have reversed their decision to remove electric guitar player Andy Sneap from their touring lineup.
The U-turn comes amid fan backlash in response to Judas Priest’s original announcement, in which they had planned to resume their 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour as “an even more powerful, relentless four-piece heavy metal band”.
However, a new statement issued by the band has now confirmed they've ditched their plans to tour as a quartet, and will instead hit the road with the support of Sneap when the run resumes in March.
“Hello metal maniacs,” the statement reads. “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 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!”
Fans didn’t particularly warm to the prospect of Priest touring as a four-piece, with many citing the double-axe action as a bedrock of the group’s sound.
Indeed, it would have been the first time they performed as a quartet since 1974 – the year in which Tipton would join Rob Halford, K.K. Downing, Ian Hill and John Hinch in the Judas Priest lineup.
Sneap himself also voiced his disapproval of the decision, telling Blabbermouth he was “incredibly disappointed” that Halford had informed him of their intentions to continue as a quartet.
Producer of the band’s Firepower record, Sneap has been a part of Judas Priest’s live line-up since 2018, after Glenn Tipton’s Parkinson’s diagnosis forced him to retire from full-time touring.
He had rejoined the group last year as they began their 50th anniversary tour around the US, though the live shows were postponed after Richie Faulkner suffered an onstage aortic aneurysm.
It’s twice been confirmed now that Faulkner has had a successful recovery period – including when he linked up with Demon Hunter in the studio – and the guitarist will be meeting up with his bandmates when the tour resumes in March.
Tipton, who has been called on in the past for some live cameos, will also crop up throughout the tour.
For a full list of tour dates, head over to Judas Priest’s website.