Judas Priest has announced that touring guitarist Andy Sneap will be making his departure from the touring lineup.

In a statement posted to social media, Judas Priest revealed that the 52-year-old –  who helped produce 2018’s Firepower – will no feature as part of the live lineup.

“Big thanks to Andy for all you’ve done and continuing to be in the production team for our new album,” Judas Priest wrote in the statement.

Meanwhile, while Sneap called the decision “incredibly disappointing”, he added that he “respects” singer Rob Halford’s decision.

“Rob 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 [of] 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.

“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.”

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He added that, nevertheless, he was excited to continue working on the band’s next album.

Andy added: “We are moving forward with the new album next month and look forward to making a killer follow-up to ‘Firepower’.”

Sneap had begun playing alongside the rockers after 74-year-old Glenn Tipton was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which forced him to cut down on performing on tour after it caused him to struggle with playing the more “challenging” songs.

In an October interview on No Fuckin’ Regrets With Robb Flynn, Sneap said of Tipton’s health, “It’s tough, because Glenn’s a good friend now, after working with him for a few years.

“They’re all good friends, actually. But seeing what the guy is going through, and he’s so determined. I’ll see him sat in the studio, and he’ll be struggling, if I’m honest, but he’s so determined.

“And it must be so frustrating for him, someone who’s lived his whole life for Judas Priest — 50 years. It’s a rotten thing to actually happen to anyone, but to happen to a guitarist of his calibre…”

You can read more about this topic on the Metal Observer.