The mid-January announcement only served to flame the frustrations of the band's estranged co-founding guitarist K.K. Downing, who's been eager to reprise his role in the band after more than a decade-long hiatus.
Judas Priest announced on Jan. 10 that touring guitarist Andy Sneap was stepping away to refocus on his producing career and that the band would tour as a foursome with Richie Faulkner covering most guitar parts himself. Priest has not toured as a four-piece since before Glenn Tipton joined the band in the early-'70s.
Downing expressed his frustration in conversation with Rock of Nations With Dave Kinchen.
"I'm like everybody else. I'm totally bemused. It was just so extreme and insulting in a way, I guess, and insulting to Glenn as well. It was kind of a slap in the face, saying, 'Okay, you two guys did it, but we think just one guy could do what… [you two did].' It kind of made us and everything that we've done and created, saying it was all superfluous, really, and didn't really have the value that… I'm sure Glenn will agree with me that it does have a value," Downing said.
Tipton took a step away from Judas Priest in 2018 after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. The band no longer advertises him as a member of its touring party, though he does perform with Priest when his condition allows.
Judas Priest reneged on the four-piece idea a few days after Sneap released a statement, thanking the band for the opportunity to work with them and revealing that he was "incredibly disappointed" by the decision.
It wouldn't be the first time Judas Priest has moved a member along without first discussing it with the affected party.
Downing explained in his autobiography that he did not retire from music when he left the band in 2011. He says Judas Priest called it a retirement in the press to save face after he informed them he was done touring.