Judas Priest are widely regarded as one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time. Their guitarist, Glenn Tipton, meanwhile, is widely considered to be one of the greatest metal guitarists in the world. Sadly, he was forced to step down from touring with the band in 2018 following a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. He’s not ruled out appearing with them in the future, though, and was a key part of their hot-selling 2018 album, Firepower. To find out more about the guitarist, check out these 10 things you didn’t know about Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest.
1. He loves to fish
Heavy metal rock stars aren’t necessarily the first people that spring to mind when you think of anglers, but Tipton is an exception. The guitarist loves to fish, citing it as his main hobby and something that’s taken him all over the world. He’s gone on fishing expeditions in the US, in Canada, the Andes and other parts of South America, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland… basically, if there’s a country with at least a couple of rivers, lakes, or a sea, there’s a good chance he’s been there, done that, and got the trout to prove it. When he’s not fishing, he’s painting, playing tennis, or racing around his farm on a trail bike.
2. The Spencer Davis Group were one of his biggest influences
Before Tipton got into metal, he was a big blues fan. One of the earliest bands he remembers seeing live was The Spencer Davis Group, who he cites as one of his earliest inspirations. After seeing them perform at Birmingham Town Hall as a teenager, he went home and tried to learn their hit “Georgia” on the piano. Other artists who helped inspire his passion for music include Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin.
3. He does it his way
Bands like The Spencer Davis Group and Led Zeppelin may have helped awaken Tipton’s passion for music, but he’s learned not to try and replicate anyone else’s sound, or in fact, be anything other than himself. Writing via his official website he says “I learned very early on never to dwell on any other band or musician for too long. Take inspiration but do it in your own way and forge ahead. I used to practice for hours trying to copy other people’s licks and got frustrated because although I got close I could never quite play it the same. It was a revelation then, the day I realized that there was no point in playing it the same as someone else, it’s already been done! Yes be inspired to a point, but do it in your own way.”
4. Music runs in his blood
It’s little wonder that Tipton chose the career he did – music runs in his blood. His mother was a classical pianist and his brother Gary played guitar in a band. His mother tried to teach him piano when he was 12, but he got bored and gave it up soon after. But while his mother’s piano didn’t hold much interest for him, his brother’s guitar was another matter entirely. “He had a guitar in his room, so when he was out I’d sneak in and play it,” he’s shared with Louder Sound. “Of course, I thought I would never be found out. But every time I picked up that guitar, the tuning would inevitably change, and my brother… yes, he noticed!”
5 His first band was called Shave ‘Em Dry
After his brother started to get tired of Tipton borrowing his guitar, Tipton eventually bit the bullet and bought one of his own. By that time, he was 19. Shortly after, he formed a band alongside future Starfighters and Ozzy Osbourne drummer Barry Scrannage, Trevor Foster, and Peter Cowling. They started off under the name Shave ‘Em Dry, spent a brief time as Merlin, and finally ended up as The Flying Hat Band. They were tipped for big things, and even managed to land a support slot next to Deep Purple on one of their European tours. But it wasn’t to be. Before they’d even got around to releasing their first album, they crumbled under the strain of internal conflicts and management issues. Cowling joined Canadian rocker Pat Travers’ band, Foster joined the folk-rock group The Albion Brothers, Scrannage joined Buillion, and Tipton signed on to join a little band called Judas Priest.
6. He joined Judas Priest in 1974
By the time Tipton joined Judas Preist, they’d already landed a record deal and were just about to start recording their debut studio album, Rocka Rolla. The album bombed. It wasn’t so much that it received negative reviews, it was more that it received no reviews at all. It shifted just a couple of thousand copies, most of which were bought by the band’s mothers. Tipton, it seemed, had gone from a band on the verge of glory to one on the verge of humiliation. But he needn’t have worried. Two albums later, the band had firmed up their sound, acquired their signature studs and leathers, and were fast on the way to becoming one of the biggest heavy metal bands of all time. They’ve now released 19 studio albums, sold 50 million records worldwide, and won more awards than most of us have had hot dinners.
7. He stepped down from touring because of his health
In February 2018, Tipton announced his decision to step back from touring after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The diagnosis had been made several years before, but the condition had steadily worsened with time. Tipton confirmed that he would remain a member of Judas Priest, and didn’t rule out appearing with them in the future – which he indeed did for several performances later that year. Since then, the band has established the Glenn Tipton Parkinson’s Foundation to help raise funds for Parkinson’s research as a tribute to Tipton.
8. He’s considered one of the greatest metal guitarists of all time
Over the years, Tipton has won numerous accolades as part of Judas Preist, including a Grammy and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination. He’s also earned a huge amount of critical acclaim on the strength of his own merits. In addition to ranking No. 19 on Hit Parader’s 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists list, he’s also been named as one of the 20 Greatest Metal Guitarists Ever by MusicRadar, and one of Gigwise’s Top 50 Guitarists.
9. He’s recorded with Sam Fox
Sam Fox isn’t a name you’d normally associate with heavy metal, but that didn’t stop Tipton from contributing some guitar licks to her 1991 hit single, Spirit of Amerca. It wasn’t the last time Tipton would make music away from Judas Priest: in 1995, he was a guest musician on The Nixon’s album Foma and in 1997, he released his first solo album, Baptizm of Fire, followed in 2006 with his second solo LP, Edge of the World
10. He’s a multi-millionaire
Back when Tipton first joined Judas Priest, the band were so poor they had to beg their record label for handouts. Those days are long gone. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Tipton is now worth the phenomenal amount of $25 million.