Bassist Fitty Wienhold has announced his departure from U.D.O., the German heavy metal band fronted by former ACCEPT singer Udo Dirkschneider.
Fitty, who joined U.D.O. in 1996, broke the news of his exit in a four-minute video message which was posted to his YouTube channel. He said: "After 22 years being with Udo as a friend, with U.D.O. as a bass player, songwriter, motivator and I don't know what or more, I decided to take a new way in my life and leave the band. I will not leave the U.D.O. family, because it was much more than just a business. I will be there when I'm needed — as a songwriter, as a friend, as an advisor… whatever."
He continued: "I can't put in words what all those years meant to me, what those years gave to me, what you all gave to me. Actually, it was a quarter of my life.
"I always said that we musicians are nothing without our fans, and what we are doing is just for you, just for them."
Fitty added: "I'm thankful that I have met so many nice people all over the world, and it was always a warm welcome. And I always felt that to give a hundred percent is not enough.
"Anyway, the world doesn't stop turning and life goes on — U.D.O. goes on, and so long Udo is alive, he will be always a living idol. There are not so many out there like him — maybe nobody — and he never disappointed you — never — so enjoy every show, every moment you can be with him."
Wienhold's final performance with U.D.O. will take place next month in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
U.D.O.'s new album, "Steelfactory", was released on August 31 via AFM.