When Judas Priest hit the road again, they'll be down a member. The band has announced it will return to touring as a quartet without road guitarist (and co-producer of the 2018 album, Firepower) Andy Sneap, who is stepping down to focus on production work.

Judas Priest also confirmed that guitarist Glenn Tipton, who stopped touring in 2018 following a Parkinson's disease diagnosis, will still occasionally perform with the band, as he has done for the past several years.

"We are chomping at the British Steel bit to return to world touring," the band wrote in a statement. "Celebrating 50 years of Judas Priest as an even more powerful, relentless four-piece heavy metal band - with Glenn coming out onstage with us here and there as before. Big thanks to Andy for all you’ve done and continuing to be in the production team for our new album. … See you all soon, headbangers!”

This is the first time since 1974, before they recorded debut album Rocka Rolla, that Judas Priest have performed with only one guitarist. In 2018, singer Rob Halford noted that while Sneap had "carved out his own little kind of way of expressing himself" in the band, the guitarist's preference is for studio work. "Andy is a prolific producer,” Halford explained in an interview. “He lives in his studio back home in Derbyshire. That's what he does - he gets up in the morning and goes to the studio, and there it is. That's his life."

Judas Priest were originally scheduled to launch their 50th-anniversary tour in the fall of 2020, but the shows were postponed due to the ongoing pandemic. The band was forced to reconfigure its road plans again this past September when guitarist Richie Faulkner had to have emergency surgery for a cardiac condition. North American tour dates are now slated to resume on March 4. The band is also expected to participate in a rescheduled tour with Ozzy Osbourne in 2023.

The Best Song on Every Judas Priest Album

Eighteen tracks that prove the British veterans never abandoned their core principles.

More From Ultimate Classic Rock