How AC/DC Almost Broke Up Ahead of Releasing “Power Up”
The last decade has been rough for AC/DC. Today Rock N’ Roll True Stories take a look at the band almost breaking up over the past several years. Check it out below!
The recording and tour for the AC/DC’s 2014 record Rock Or Bust was a difficult one for the band. By the time the AC/DC was done the tour to promote the album, they had lost 3 members including drummer Phil Rudd vocalist Brian Johnson and bassist Cliff Williams. These problems almost culminated in AC/DC ending their career prematurely.
However, adversity is something AC/DC is no stranger to. They’ve suffered tragedy and went throughdifficult times throughout their history and they always bounce back stronger. How did they overcome these tough times and put out a new album this week titled “Power Up.” Stay tuned to find out.
The last decade has been difficult for AC/DC. Members have come and gone starting with 2008’s Black Ice album. And the tour to support the album, would be founding member and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young last stint with the band as he had been diagnosed with dementia and would have to step away from his duties following the conclusion of the Black Ice tour in 2010. I have a whole video on Malcolm Young’s final years with the band below. He would be replaced by his nephew Stevie Young who previously replaced him once before. The band wouldn’t reassemble until a few years later to record their follow up a;lbum 2014’s Rock Or Bust. Cracks were already starting to show by in the recording studio. Guitarist and founding member Angus Young would reveal to the Guardian in 2014 how lngtime drummer Phil Rudd wasn’t himself at the time time saying “Well, we had a few problems. We had a few issues before with him, even when we were recording it was hard even to get to him to do the recording. He’d go on to say
“And then he was supposed to show up to do promos with us, to do video shoots and a few shoots and a few other things, and he never showed up for that either.” Angus would say.
A month before Rock Or Bust was set to be released, the band would be in the news, but it wasn’t the media attention they wanted, it was revealed that drummer Phil Rudd was arrested and charged with attempting to procure a murder, threatening to kill, and possession of drugs, following a police raid on his home in New Zealand.
The charge of attempting to procure a murder was dropped the following day and on On April 21, 2015 he pleaded guilty to the remaining charges and was sentenced to house arrest and ordered to pay $120K in restitution. His legal problems would throw AC/DC’s tour to support Rock or Bust into a tailspin. A lot of AC/DC’s press interviews to promote the album had them discussing Rudd’s personal problems with Young telling an interviewer “He’s got to sort himself out I think… At this point it’s kind of a question mark. But if we’re touring, there will be a drummer in place, put it that way. Phil created his own situation. It’s a hard thing to say about the guy. He’s a great drummer, and he’s done a lot of stuff for us. But he seems to have let himself go. He’s not the Phil we’ve known from the past.” Rudd would be replaced with drummer Chris Slade who had previously played with the band from 1989 to 1994.
Once the band was on the road, the initial set of shows went reasonably well , but with 22 shows left on the Rock or Bust tour, vocalist Brian Johnson was suffering from hearing issues forcing him to drop out of the tour or risk permanent hearing damage. There were conflicting news reports at the time over whether Brian was out of the band and some even criticized the group over how Brian was treated. In fact the whole thing blew up when Johnson’s friend and comedian Jim Breuer told listeners on his podcast that he had visited Johnson at home in Sarasota, Florida, and found his friend and i quote “really depressed”, dismayed and disappointed that the decision to announce his retirement had effectively been made for him. The comedian said “Brian said that he called and let AC/DC and Angus Young know, ‘Hey, this is what the doctor said, but let’s try to figure this out. I don’t think it’s as bad as he said it is.’ Literally the next day in the press, it was ‘Brian Johnson, tour cancelled, he’s losing his hearing” Breuer would say.
As the comedians comments began getting picked up by news sites many places seemed to echo the sentiment that Brian Johnson was kicked to the curb by the band. Breuer would walk back his comments and claimed he exaggerated a very intimate and private conversation” with his friend claiming
“All Brian said was ‘I feel down & want to finish the job and hope it happens!’” Breuer wrote on his official Facebook page. “The rest was ME GOING OFF…
And replacing Brian for the time being would be Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose. Rose would reach out offering his services and the band had him fronting the band for the remaining European and North American shows in the summer of 2016 to rave reviews. On July 8, 2016, bassist Cliff Williams indicated that he was ready to leave the band following the tour saying “It’s been what I’ve known for the past 40 years, but after this tour I’m backing off of touring and recording. Losing Malcolm, the thing with Phil and now with Brian, it’s a changed animal. I feel in my gut it’s the right thing.”
At the end of the Rock or Bust world tour, he released a video statement confirming his departure. His final show with AC/DC was in Philadelphia on 20 September 2016.[
By the summer of 2016 Brian Johnson would be once again in the news this time giving a more positive update on his hearing issues saying he had been working with a company who makes in-ear monitors, which gave some hope to fans. revealing “ In the years that followed AC/DC’s camp would be silent with no updates. Some speculated that Axl Rose would continue on as the singer and record a new album of material with the band, while other’s speculated the band was done. The only longtime member remaining was co-founder Angus Young. Meanwhile in the summer of 2017 Brian Johnson was back on the stage as he joined the band Muse during one of their shows and performed the song back in black giving hope to fans that he may return to AC/DC sooner than later.
Fast forward a year later and in 2018 it appeared Brian Johnson and Phil Rudd were back in the band as photos of the pair with group surfaced in Vancouver at a recording studio surfaced online. It appeared bassist Cliff Williams was also back and it would come out in subsequent news reports that the band was in fact working on a new album using old guitar parts that founding member Malcolm young had recorded almost 15 years prior. The album would be a tribute to Malcolm Young who would pass away in 2017.
Fast forward to September of 2020 when the band’s social media channels confirmed the news that the band was back.
So how did the band members slowly come back together you’re wondering.? Well lets start with Phil Rudd. After going through legal troubles during the cycle for Rock or Bust, he would announce in 2016 to the New Zeland Herald that he had sorted out his life and was eager to rejoin AC/DC despite the fact that he hadn’t spoken to Angus Young since his legal troubles started. He would also release a solo album in 2014 called Head Job and do some gigs to promote the album. While AC/DC never officially fired Rudd, he would get a second chance from the band at the funeral of Malcolm Young. According to Angus Young, he would tell Rolling Stone this year “He just looked so good,” “He was there and in good shape. He was keeping himself well-together. He was getting therapy and sorting himself out. It was really good.”
And meanwhile Cliff Williams admitted he was drawn back into the band because he wanted to pay tribute to malcolm and having Brian back in the group made it feel like the old days.
Angus would recently tell the australian radio station triple M how getting the band back together wasn’t very difficult saying
Brian had kept us informed about his efforts to overcome his hearing loss. He’d been working with a specialist — So he was happy about the way the new technology that they had put together for him [was working out], so he was happy and really eager. I didn’t have to ask him twice to be there, to do this album. And Cliff had said to me at the end of the last tour that we had done… I said, ‘Do you want me to contact you if I’m gonna do anything?’ And he said, ‘Yeah. Contact me.’ And Phil, I’d talked to Phil and also seen him a few times. And he was in great shape. But he himself was ready. He said, ‘Yeah, I’ll be there with bells on.’ And then, of course, my nephew, doing Mal’s role. Everyone was excited about doing it. So that was pretty easy to put together” he’d say. The band’s new album Power Up is due out this week on November 13th and bassist Cliff Williams did confirm in news reports that the band did meet up earlier year in Europe for rehearsals as they planned on doing several shows to support the album, but of course the global crisis changed that. So let me know your guys thoughts in the comments section below. Have you guys heard the single “Shot in the Dark” and what were you thoughts on it and are you guys excited to hear Power Up after such a long hiatus for the band. Let me know in the comments section guys and we’ll see you again tomorrow on rock n’ roll true stories. Take care.