Judas Priest are on the verge of releasing their 18th studio album, Firepower, with a supporting tour set to launch on March 13. Unfortunately, Glenn Tipton made the difficult decision to bow out of the tour as he's been battling Parkinson's Disease for the last decade. Stepping in is Firepower co-producer Andy Sneap and the move has left erstwhile axeman K.K. Downing a bit miffed.

Downing, one of Priest's founding members (Ian Hill remains the only founding member still in the band), left the group in 2011 and was subsequently replaced by Richie Faulkner. He addressed Tipton's current status with the Priest in a newly released statement, expressing his feelings on the two being an iconic guitar tandem, their legacy and why he's upset he wasn't asked to rejoin the band for the Firepower tour, feeling his value is not appreciated.

The statement reads:

The news that Glenn has finally been forced to come to terms with his unfortunate condition long term came with deep regret and sadness for me. Equally, this ending of our guitar duo era is also something that I have to come to terms with. The insatiable appetite that myself and Glenn had for creating inspired and unique music for the world to enjoy for many decades, is something that can never be erased. However, everyone who has witnessed the evolution of our beloved music must come to terms with the fact that things will inevitably change, or just simply end.

I have to state with great sadness also that I am shocked and stunned that I wasn’t approached to step into my original role as guitarist for Judas Priest. Whether I could have stepped back into the band or not, the potential for this situation arising never entered my head when I departed – although I too am officially and legally still a member of Judas Priest.

However, I know now more clearly than ever that I did the right thing by leaving the band when I did – as it seems that my time spent in the band, and my value in terms of crafting its huge legacy, was and is unappreciated by more than one member. I sincerely hope, for the fans’ sake, that the decision not to approach me was not a financial one.

I know Andy Sneap – and he is one of the greatest contributors to rock and metal that you will ever have the privilege to meet. To that end I have no doubt that his contribution to the new Judas Priest album was much more than just as a producer. All that’s left is for you the fans to go out and enjoy the band as it is, in order to complete a part of music history in which every one of you has played such an important role.

While fans hope that new chapters of Judas Priest's story are still yet to be written, Downing's story has been chronicled in his forthcoming biography, Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest. The book is slated for a September release and promises to pull back the curtain on one of metal's most legendary and influential acts.

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