He chose to make this announcement in a typically low-key manner, but in an interview with Gulfshore Life magazine (aimed at a readership in his Florida base) AC/DC’s bassist Cliff Williams declared that he is to stand down from touring and recording at the conclusion of the current ‘Rock Or Bust’ tour. He joined the group in 1977, shortly after they had recorded the ‘Let There Be Rock’ album with predecessor Mark Evans, and was there for their glory years with Bon Scott as well as the later arena-packing years with Brian Johnson. His reasons appear to be because the band as he knew it no longer exists; describing the present outfit as a ‘changed animal’ now that Johnson has had to quit touring in order to preserve his hearing.
This is surely the final blow to a great band; first they lost founder Malcolm Young owing to dementia, to be replaced by nephew Stevie Young (who had stepped in for Malcolm once before in 1988). Then drummer Phil Rudd had his own problems forcing him to miss the current tour (replaced by another former member in Chris Slade) and finally, midway through the tour, Johnson was forced to relinquish his long-held position as lead vocalist. The controversial choice of W. Axl Rose to replace Johnson split the fanbase down the middle; some (myself included) were put off by his reputation for tardiness with his own band Guns n’ Roses while others wanted to see how this collaboration would work out. To many peoples’ surprise Axl has not pulled any stunts with AC/DC, appearing on stage when he is supposed to and, to be fair, giving a good account of himself. That does beg the question: if he can turn up on time for Angus Young why can he not do the same thing for his own band and fans? However, wth so many changes even since the ‘Rock or Bust’ album was made, many did wonder whether this was just a glorified tribute band now. Now they have lost Williams, the only other member besides Angus Young who dates back to the Bon Scott days and it now looks like the band has disintegrated around the eternal schoolboy.
We’re currently seeing the end of an era with classic bands either retiring or being forced into retirement (only today I read that Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry had collapsed on stage) plus of course, we have lost many greats over the past year. AC/DC owe us nothing more, and it is surely time to sound the final ‘Hells Bell’. That said, before his arrest Rudd stated that Angus Young would ‘never retire’; he is just 61 and possibly still feels he has something left in the tank. If he can get Johnson back, perhaps there’s a chance but otherwise he will have a tough sell persuading fans that it’s still AC/DC.
However I will be remembering AC/DC as the great band they were. Here’s the title track from their biggest-selling album and the one everything they did since has been held up against. The iconic riff has been shamelessly ripped off for a camera advert by Panasonic of all people!