Phillip Hugh Norman Rudd (born Phillip Hugh Norman Witschke Rudzevecuis, 19 May 1954) is an Australian drummer, best known for his membership in Australian hard rock band AC/DC from 1975 through 1983, and again from 1994 to 2015. Upon the 1977 departure of bass guitarist Mark Evans from AC/DC, Rudd became the only Australian-born member of the band. In 2003, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with the other members of AC/DC. Due to ongoing legal problems in New Zealand, Rudd was unable to join the band for the 2015 Rock or Bust tour and was replaced by Chris Slade. In 2014, Rudd released his first solo album, Head Job.
|Birth name||Phillip Hugh Norman Witschke Rudzevecuis|
|Born||19 May 1954|
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Genres||Hard rock, blues rock, rock and roll|
|Years active||1972–1983, 1994–present|
|Associated acts||Buster Brown|
Born on 19 May 1954 in Melbourne, Rudd came from a German and Irish background, although his stepfather was Lithuanian. He began playing drums in his teens and became serious about pursuing a career in music. He played in several bands in Melbourne before joining Buster Brown with future Rose Tattoo vocalist Angry Anderson. They went on to release one album, Something To Say, in 1974, before Rudd left to join the Coloured Balls with Lobby Loyde.
In 1974 Rudd was told about AC/DC's rhythm section auditions by his former Coloured Balls bandmate Trevor Young (no relation to AC/DC's Young brothers). Rudd asked Buster Brown bassist Geordie Leach to accompany him to the auditions, but Leach refused due to other commitments. Rudd auditioned and was hired immediately. Rudd's drumming style suited the band's style of music and became an integral part of AC/DC's sound from 1975 to 1983. The band relocated to the United Kingdom in 1976 and followed a heavy schedule of international touring and recording.
A letter written by AC/DC vocalist Bon Scott to his sister Valerie during the 1978 Powerage tour claims Rudd suffered “a bit of a nervous breakdown & had to spend a lot of time with a shrink. It was really bad but luckily he got over it quickly enough not to upset the band. We had to treat him with kid gloves for a bit but he's ok now.” The letter was later purchased at an auction by the Western Australian government in 2019, which intended to display the letter at the State Library of Western Australia.
In 1980, Scott died. The band continued on, recruiting new vocalist Brian Johnson and subsequently recording their most successful album, 1980's Back in Black. Having been good friends, Rudd took Scott's death badly, but continued on with AC/DC until he was fired from the band during the recording of the Flick of the Switch album in 1983. Rudd's sacking from AC/DC was partly the result of his own personal problems as well as a conflict with the band's rhythm guitarist and founder Malcolm Young, which allegedly escalated to become physical. Rudd had completed his contributions to the album, and although session drummer B.J. Wilson was recruited to help complete the recording, Wilson's drum parts were ultimately not used. Simon Wright was soon hired as Rudd's permanent replacement, and featured in the videos that accompanied the singles released from the album.
First dismissal from AC/DC and hiatus from music
Following his firing, Rudd retired to Tauranga, New Zealand where he purchased a helicopter company. Rudd's departure from AC/DC didn't become widely known until the eve of their US and Canada tour in 1983. In the last few pages of Circus Magazine's October 1983 edition it stated "Phil Rudd exits AC/DC...to spend more time with his family and his cars". Rudd married a New Zealander in 1983. Guitarist Angus Young was quoted in the same article as saying "We're a rowdy bunch, but we don't fight with each other". Vocalist Brian Johnson added in a Hit Parader interview from the same period that "You couldn't find a more solid person or drummer than Phil Rudd. None of us would have to work if we didn't want to....Phil chose that option".
On his years away from AC/DC, Rudd has said, "I raced cars, flew helicopters, became a farmer and planted some crops. I lived in New Zealand which was great; nice and quiet with nobody bothering me." Rudd also continued to play drums, "when I wanted to rather than when I had to", and built his own recording studio.
When AC/DC toured New Zealand in 1991 in support of their Razors Edge album, they called Rudd to see if he would be interested in joining them for a casual jam session. Rudd accepted their offer. Though there was no discussion of him rejoining the group at the time, Rudd was invited to permanently rejoin AC/DC in late 1993 following the recording of the "Big Gun" single for the Last Action Hero movie soundtrack.
AC/DC welcomed Rudd back following Chris Slade's term as the band's drummer. The band praised Slade for his performance and technical ability, but maintained that a certain groove had been missing from AC/DC's music since Rudd's departure in 1983. After rejoining the band, he performed on four AC/DC studio albums, Ballbreaker, Stiff Upper Lip, Black Ice, and Rock or Bust, with Black Ice being the band's biggest hit on the charts since For Those About to Rock We Salute You in 1981.
Rudd's first solo album, Head Job, was released on 29 August 2014. New Zealand musicians Allan Badger (bass guitar and vocals) and Geoffrey Martin (guitar) performed on the album alongside Rudd.
Drug conviction and appeal
On 1 December 2010, Rudd was convicted of possessing 25g of marijuana on his boat in Tauranga, New Zealand, but later had his cannabis conviction quashed on the grounds that it would have stopped him from continuing to tour with AC/DC.
On 30 July 2011, it was announced that the drummer had purchased and would open a marina restaurant at Bridge Marina in Tauranga, where he resides. He named it "Phil's Place", and planned to sell seafood and steak. The restaurant closed temporarily in July 2012, and reopened on 10 April 2013. In 2014 Rudd was ordered to pay more than $70,000 to three former employees for unjustified dismissal.
Threatening to kill and drug charges
On 6 November 2014 Rudd was arrested and charged with attempting to procure a murder, threatening to kill, possession of methamphetamine and possession of cannabis, following a police raid on his home. The charge of attempting to procure a murder was withdrawn the following day. On 21 April 2015 he pleaded guilty to the remaining charges, with the exception of one of the two threatening to kill charges, which was dropped.
His ongoing legal problems led to the recruitment of AC/DC's former drummer Chris Slade in time for the band's Rock or Bust World Tour. In an interview on 13 November 2014, Angus Young had stated that AC/DC had experienced problems with Rudd earlier in the year when recording Rock or Bust, and that his situation had taken the band by surprise. Rudd had also missed video and photo shoots. Young said, "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." In the same interview, Young also said, "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." In May 2015, Rudd stated that he hoped to return, but said that he had no contact from the band, adding, "I'm sure they're having a great old time... I've seen the error of my ways... It's onward and upward from here."
On 9 July 2015, Rudd was sentenced to eight months' home detention and ordered to pay NZ$120,000 in reparation. His appeal to be discharged without conviction was rejected. A subsequent appeal of the sentence to the High Court was dismissed. In a 2016 interview, Rudd said that since completing his home detention that March, he was seeing a psychiatrist weekly and had given up the "crazy shit". He also revealed he planned to tour Europe to promote his album Head Job.
Head Job European tour 2017
Rudd started a tour of Europe in 2017 with the Phil Rudd Band that included Badger, Martin with British bass guitarist John Proctor and New Zealand guitarist Mike "Mutt" Furness. The tour began in Oslo, Norway on 31 March 2017 and visited Sweden, the UK, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The latter part of the tour was rescheduled for 2018 and then cancelled.
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