Heavy metal band Judas Priest launched a new initiative in honor of its longtime guitarist who is battling a very serious medical condition. The Glenn Tipton Parkinson's Foundation will raise money for a new kind of treatment to fight the degenerative disorder.
In the announcement on Priest's official website, Tipton explained that even though there are many Parkinson's-related charities out there that could use funding, "what really excites" him is the fact that the money raised through his foundation will be going to a "brand new pioneering treatment called MR guided focused ultrasound thalamotomy."
"Although in its early stages, [the new treatment] has already had great success with a Parkinson's-related condition called essential tremor," the 70-year-old stated. "Dr. Bain, my specialist who is one of the leading experts in this field, and his colleagues are now turning their attention to treating Parkinson's patients with this state of the art MR scanners and are very optimistic as to the positive results that are emerging."
To raise money for the foundation, the British band is selling special T-shirts with a classic shot of Tipton playing guitar on the front and the slogan "No Surrender," which is also a song on the band's new album Firepower, on the back. "['No Surrender'] is very appropriate considering the determination you have to summon up to get on with life and beat this illness," Tipton said.
The tees can be purchased on the band's website for $40, and shipping starts July 6.
Tipton also used the news post to talk about his condition. "I knew that something was wrong as my coordination and speed were affected and have both been slowly getting worse over the last 10 years," he said, adding that when he received the official diagnosis, "it wasn't really a shock."
The guitarist publicly revealed he had Parkinson's disease this past February, and announced that he would not be touring with the band full-time but would still be a creative part of the Judas Priest team.
"I want everyone to know that it's vital that the Judas Priest tour go ahead, and that I am not leaving the band — it's simply that my role has changed," Tipton said at the time, according to Rolling Stone.He has shown up at some shows during Judas Priest's current world tour, joining his bandmates onstage for a few tunes. "[I] will carry on for as long as I can without compromising the band," he said. "So far when I walk onstage, the audience reaction has been amazing, heartwarming, and quite emotional."
Tipton, who joined Judas Priest in 1974 right before the band recorded its debut album, Rocka Rolla, thanked his bandmates — Rob Halford, Richie Faulkner, Ian Hill, Scott Travis, and his tour replacement Andy Sneap, who "is doing a really great job" — for their support.
Parkinson's disease has been affecting many musicians in recent years. Singers Linda Ronstadt, 71, and Neil Diamond, 77, suffer from it, and in February, Mr. Big drummer Pat Torpey died from complications of Parkinson's disease at the age of 64.