Today we were hit with the disconcerting news that Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton would be sitting out the band’s current tour due to Parkinson’s Disease. It’s another in a long line of musicians aging out of touring. Malcolm Young, Brian Johnson, Neil Diamond, and Mr. Big’s Pat Torpey are among those that have had ailments that have prevented them from touring, with Torpey dying just last week due to Parkinson’s, and Diamond abruptly stepping off the road due to the disease. This raises the question: With Glenn Tipton not participating in this tour, is Judas Priest still Judas Priest?
Bram: I think that as long as Judas Priest still has Rob Halford and at least one original member, they’re still very much Judas Priest. Ian Hill has been in the band since day one, and remains. Halford still sounds amazing. Richie Faulkner has done a great job filling in for Downing. Redeemer of Souls was a great record, and Firepower, or at least what we’ve heard of it so far, sounds like classic Priest as well, so unlike some other bands who will go unnamed by me at least, the quality of music is still there.
Jeff: Given that Priest has shown us that they can replace a legend like KK Downing with, really, the perfect fit in Richie Faulkner, I’m not worried about the live performance now. Many might recall that when they heard KK was retiring that they thought the band was “over,” and yet here we are and Richie is just plain incredible. I mean he is an absolute joy to watch. Glenn’s replacement is Andy Sneap. No slouch to begin with and have you heard what he added to Saxon’s sound lately? Sneap is at the top of his game.
Zach S: I feel oddly conflicted by this. I’m usually under the belief that almost everyone is replaceable in a band. So my initial response is yes, Judas Priest is still Judas Priest … so why do I feel hesitant to say it aloud?
Of course, Rob Halford is the MVP of Judas Priest. Yes, Richie Faulkner has done a stellar job taking over, and I have no doubt it’ll be a blast to watch him and Andy Sneap shred onstage together. But part of me has a hard time justifying paying a high ticket price for what’s being billed as Judas Priest, when really it feels more like you’ll be getting a show of “Halford plays the hits with a killer backing band.” Not to downplay Ian Hill and Scott Travis’ roles in the band, but Glenn Tipton and KK Downing really were major draws to Judas Priest’s live shows and albums. Now we’ve lost both original guitarists.
I’ll admit I’m a tad spoiled because I’ve been lucky enough to see Priest live multiple times with the Painkiller-era lineup. And sure, the two new guys are extremely talented guitarists who arguably might deliver an even better show than their predecessors at this point in their lives (it stinks getting older, don’t it?). But does that justify paying the full price you’d pay to see Judas Priest, when you’re missing multiple key ingredients?
Chip: There have certainly been more than enough times in rock/metal history where you could question it. Was Lynyrd Skynyrd still Lynyrd Skynyrd after the plane crash? Was Black Sabbath still Black Sabbath when it was Tony Iommi and a long cast of forgettable characters? I’ve always been of the mindset that if at least one original member is carrying the torch and we aren’t arguing and going to court over naming rights and all that whatnot then Band X is still Band X. What those two examples show is that it doesn’t mean it’s good or we have to like it. (With that said can we put both versions of Queensryche to bed forever, please and thank you.) Now, if you are asking if Judas Priest is still as good as Judas Priest, that’s a completely different discussion and one I’ll be happy to report back on when I see them next month. Plus, if we can still call Napalm Death, Napalm Death with zero original members left in the band then I think we’re all going to be o.k.