For the first time since Parkinson's disease forced him off the road, Glenn Tipton has performed with Judas Priest. He returned to the band tonight (March 20) during their concert at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., joining in on "Metal Gods," "Breaking the Law" and "Living After Midnight."

Tipton's condition was made public last month, when the band released a statement that he would no longer be able to tour with Judas Priest as they promote their new effort, Firepower. He was diagnosed 10 years ago, but the degenerative nature of Parkinson's means that he can now only play the easier material. Frontman Rob Halford later clarified that Tipton was still a member of Judas Priest, and that he would come out "every now and then to do 'Breaking the Law' or 'Living After Midnight.'"

Priest had discussed several options that would allow Tipton, who joined the band shortly before their 1974 debut, Rocka Rolla, to be onstage, including using an offstage guitarist or backing tapes. But Tipton rejected all ideas. '[H]e made the decision and said, 'I want to do what's the best for the band. Not what's the best for me,'" Halford said. "He was always thinking about the band, not thinking about himself."
For this tour - which we recently caught in Youngstown, Ohio - Andy Sneap, a veteran of several metal bands who co-produced Firepower, is performing in his stead. Tipton made the decision to bring Sneap into the fold as rehearsals were coming to and issued a statement saying that with Sneap, "I'm sure the band will be as strong than ever."

Former Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing, who retired in 2011, said that he was "shocked and stunned" that the group didn't invite him back into the group and suggested that Tipton didn't play all of the parts credited to him. "I have no doubt that [Sneap's] contribution to the new Judas Priest album was much more than just as a producer." Halford called Downing's charge "1,000 percent false," adding that he was in the studio with Tipton and said he'd "never seen anybody so brave in the fact that every song was a challenge for him to make it work, but he did — consistently, day after day."

Released on March 9, Firepower debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, making it the highest-charting record in the band's history, selling 49,000 units in its first week of release.

Top 50 Heavy Metal Albums