Now that AC/DC has announced the first (European) leg of the band’s 2015 world tour in support of its new album, Rock or Bust, it’s time to focus on who’ll be keeping time for the boys because current drummer Phil Rudd seems unfit for duty.
For those unawares, Rudd was arrested in New Zealand in November for threatening to kill, and possession of pot and meth. (Prosecutors dropped a murder-for-hire charge.) He’s demonstrated bizarre behavior (piggyback riding on one of his body guards, tussling with someone related to the case in front of a café, mumbling incoherent answers to media queries) and as a condition of bail is forbidden from consuming illegal drugs. (Shouldn’t that go without saying? That’s like letting a child molester out on bail on the condition that he not diddle kids. Well, duh.)
Anywho, AC/DC goes on tour in early May. Whether Rudd’s predicament is resolved by then (Rudd’s pleaded not guilty), who knows? But clearly Rudd, 60, needs help. His band mates complained that he was unreliably late when recording the new album in Canada earlier this year. He missed photo and music video shoots, forcing the band to hire a replacement drummer (Welshman Bob Richards) just for the videos. Even if Rudd beats the charges, would Angus Young and the boys want to put themselves in the position where Rudd flakes out and vanishes before a sold-out stadium show? I’m wagering no. So who’ll replace him?
Phil Rudd famously left the band in 1983 after a run-in with AC/DC’s founder, and former rhythm guitarist, Malcolm Young (who sadly was forced by dementia into retirement). Rudd rejoined in 1995 after apparently cleaning himself up and had no problems, it seems, until recently. So AC/DC’s hired drummers in the past. They were Simon Wright, who replaced Phil in the early 1980s and left the band in the early 1990s for other opportunities (he got bored with AC/DC’s repetitive style). The band hired Chris Slade to replace Wright. Both guys are fantastic drummers. The complaint against Slade was he was too fast a drummer for AC/DC’s style. And if you listen to the Live album from the early 1990s, you’ll notice the songs’ 4/4 beats are faster than the way Phil plays.
I don’t know if AC/DC would dip into that well again despite, by band’s own admission, Wright and Slade being great at what they do. Bob Richards looks competent on the Play Ball and Rock or Bust videos, but that’s not him actually drumming. It’s Phil. Here’s Bob doing his thing.
But I have solved AC/DC’s problem. There’s been a guy playing drums almost as long as AC/DC’s been churning out instantly recognizable songs that all sound the same but different. As far as I know he doesn’t do drugs or kill people—although it’s safe to say he’s prone to violence but that hasn’t stopped Dr. Teeth from keeping him in the Electric Mayhem. And this drummer, like Phil, apparently, speaks nothing but gibberish. That’s right! Animal from the Muppets!
Animal’s been playing all that cutesie crap with the Electric Mayhem since the 1970s. Does animal look like he’d have a problem drumming to songs with lyrics that describe most of the things Phil Rudd apparently does when nobody’s looking (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap)? No. Most of the guys in AC/DC are about 5 feet tall, so Animal will fit right in. I like this idea! There’s no way Janice from the Electric Mayhem could ever replace Malcolm Young (thank goodness for nephew Stevie). But Phil being replaced with a maniacal, enraged, bug-eyed monster with no known drug or alcohol problems? Count me in for that one.
In all seriousness, I hope Phil cleans up his act and is found not guilty (that’s if he’s truly not guilty; if he did it, goodbye, Phil). AC/DC doesn’t sound the same without Phil’s workmanlike whomping of the drums. And I hope he’s sitting on his stool, smoking his cigarettes, for what likely will be the band’s final world tour. But he put himself in this position. I never envisioned replacing Phil Rudd with a Muppet, but right now, it looks like only one of them is mature enough for the job. Let’s hope that changes.