Rob Halford has spoken out again in defense of Judas Priest's decision not to ask former guitarist K.K. Downing to return when Glenn Tipton announced his plans to retire due to his battle with Parkinson's disease.

“[Downing] had made the decision to retire, I don’t know how many years ago that it was," the metal god tells the Los Angeles Daily News. "At the time he was emphatic about retiring and never coming back, and that’s what we were left with. There has been no communication since that time. There has been no inquires about how the band is doing since that time, or how the guys are doing, or anything of that nature.”

When the announcement of Tipton's departure was made, Downing released a statement expressing his surprise that he was not contacted by Priest to step back into the fold. His words created quite the controversy as guitarist Andy Sneap was tapped as the replacement.

"I have to state with great sadness also that I am shocked and stunned that I wasn’t approached to step into my original role as guitarist for Judas Priest," he said. "Whether I could have stepped back into the band or not, the potential for this situation arising never entered my head when I departed – although I too am officially and legally still a member of Judas Priest."

Judas Priest are currently on tour supporting their latest release, Firepower, which scored their highest ever U.S. chart debut, landing at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. The trek continues tonight at The Warfield in San Francisco, Calif., with the list of remaining dates across the States and Europe available here. Regarding Tipton's battle with Parkinson's, Halford says the guitarist is "still leading a very strong and productive life musically."

"As we are talking, you know, he wants to come out and go onstage and play the songs that he wants to play," he says. "Glenn is a very dedicated, hard-core musician, and he won’t go out and play if it doesn’t reach the level that he wants to be at. So yes, he is ready he wants to come out. It’s the Parkinson’s that actually prevents the actual statements: ‘I will be here on this day at this time’ — that’s just the way Parkinson’s works. Some days are better than others. I know he really wants to come out. Whether he comes out and plays or doesn’t play is irrelevant to me — I just want to see his face and be with the band."

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