Judas Priest has announced that the group's longtime guitarist, Glenn Tipton, has been fighting Parkinson's disease for the past 10 years and won't perform with the metal band on their upcoming, 2018 tour.

"Ten years ago Glenn was diagnosed to have the onset of the early stages of Parkinson's -- from then until recently Glenn has lived his life as the great heavy metal guitar player he has always been, maintaining by his own definition a standard of quality and performance that is incredibly important…" the band says in an official statement. "Right now Glenn is able to play and perform some of the Priest songs that are less challenging but due to the nature of Parkinson's progression he wants to let you all know that he won't be touring as such."

Judas Priest

Tipton, thankfully, is "not leaving the band." The statement leaves the option open for Tipton to play with Priest at certain shows.

"I don't rule out the chance to go on stage as and when I feel able to blast out some Priest!" Tipton says in the statement. "So at some point in the not too distant future I'm really looking forward to seeing all of our wonderful metal maniacs once again."

Andy Sneap - who co-produced the band's upcoming album, Firepower - will fill in for Tipton on that date.

Judas Priest's band mates say that Tipton is "a true metal hero, adding, "We…thank Andy for joining us to make Glenn's wishes become real -- as Glenn has said we also can't wait to have him with us at any time any place on the road...We love you Glenn!"

Judas Priest will set off on their tour in support of Firepower on March 13 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.