Why AC/DC Welcomed Phil Rudd Back to the Band
Angus Young believed Phil Rudd could play drums with AC/DC again after seeing him at Malcolm Young's funeral. “He just looked so good,” Angus told Rolling Stone. “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.”
That day in November 2017, less than two weeks after Malcolm's death, was the first time Angus had seen the drummer since the conclusion of the Rock or Bust sessions in 2014. A month before the album's release, Rudd was charged with trying to hire a hitman, threatening to kill someone and possession of methamphetamine and cannabis. By April 2015, the procurement charge was dropped, and Rudd pleaded guilty to the other charges. He was sentenced to eight months of home detention.
Chris Slade, who drummed with AC/DC from 1989-94, was then brought back into the band. But during the entire ordeal, it was never announced that Rudd was fired from the band. The day after his arrest, the band put out a statement saying his absence "will not affect" tour plans. "He’s got to sort himself out, I think," Angus Young said a week later. "But we were resolved to go forward."
By 2016, Rudd had declared himself a changed man, saying he had quit drugs and was seeing a therapist every week. "It has become part of who I am now," he revealed. "With help. I have had to get help on my issues. I've never felt better in my life. Physically, mentally, I am in the best shape I have ever been."
The long road to recovery has paid off, with Rudd returning to the drum stool for the band's new album, reportedly titled Power Up. The drummer's involvement with the project was rumored in the summer of 2018, when he was spotted with singer Brian Johnson at a recording studio. His return was confirmed when AC/DC recently issued a new publicity photo featuring the band lineup.
Johnson, who remained in touch with Rudd, also noticed the difference in his bandmate. “I speak for all the boys with Phil,” the singer told Rolling Stone. “We defend Phil to the hilt. What happened up there, that’s not the Phil we know. That was just something else. He’s really looking brilliant now and doing everything great.”