Judas Priest have announced the departure of guitarist Andy Sneap from their live lineup, meaning the band will tour as a quartet for the first time since 1974.
Sneap, who joined the touring lineup in 2018, said the band’s decision to drop him was “incredibly disappointing”, but nonetheless, he understands their decision.
Aside from his role in Judas Priest’s live show, Sneap co-produced the band’s 2018 album Firepower. His background in music lies more within the production world. Though Sneap won’t be playing with them live, he will still remain on the band’s production team.
The band are due to set out on their 50 Heavy Metal Years tour in March, where they’ll play a whopping 24 shows over six weeks across North America.
“Big thanks to Andy for all you’ve done and continuing to be in the production team for our new album,” the band said in an official statement.
Speaking with Blabbermouth, Sneap voiced his sadness at being cut from the live band, saying “Rob [Halford] called me last Monday and said they wanted to move on as a four-piece, which I find incredibly disappointing after this amount of time, but I respect his decision, as they obviously have a vision how they want this to play out.”
“This always was a temporary situation, and like I’ve said before, I’ll always help the band any way I can, and that applies going forward also.”
He continued: “I’ve been a huge fan of the band since the early ’80s, and it was mind-blowing to play onstage with the guys and quite frankly terrifying in the beginning at such short notice.”
The tour was originally slated to begin in 2020, but the band were forced to postpone due to Covid-19.