Phil Rudd

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Phil Rudd
Rudd live with AC/DC in 1982 at the Manchester Apollo
Rudd live with AC/DC in 1982 at the Manchester Apollo
Background information
Birth namePhillip Hugh Norman Witschke Rudzevecuis
Born (1954-05-19) 19 May 1954 (age 69)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
GenresHard rock, blues rock, rock and roll
Years active1972–1983, 1994–present

Phillip Hugh Norman Rudd (born Phillip Hugh Norman Witschke Rudzevecuis,[1][2] 19 May 1954) is an Australian drummer, best known as the drummer of AC/DC across three stints (1975–1983, 1994–2015, 2018–present). On the 1977 departure of bass guitarist Mark Evans from AC/DC, Rudd became the only Australian-born member of the band. In 2003, he entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with the other members of AC/DC. In 2014, Rudd released his first solo album, Head Job. Due to ongoing legal problems in New Zealand, where he is a resident, Rudd was unable to join the band for the 2015 Rock or Bust World Tour and was replaced by Chris Slade.[3][4] On 30 September 2020, AC/DC confirmed that Rudd would be rejoining the band for their comeback album Power Up.



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.[5] 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.[6] 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.”[7] 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.[8]

First dismissal from AC/DC and hiatus from music[edit]

AC/DC vocalist Bon Scott died in 1980, an event that left close friend Rudd deeply saddened. He eventually parted ways with the band in 1983 following the recording of the Flick of the Switch album. The split 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 later hired as Rudd's permanent replacement, and featured in the music videos released to promote the album.

After his firing, Rudd retired to Tauranga, New Zealand where he purchased a helicopter company.[9] 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, Lisa O'Brien, 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".[10] 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".[11]

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.[9]

Return to AC/DC[edit]

Rudd performing live with AC/DC in 1995
Rudd with AC/DC on 23 November 2008 in Saint Paul, Minnesota

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 1994 following the recording of the "Big Gun" single for the Last Action Hero movie soundtrack.[12]

AC/DC welcomed Rudd back after 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 five AC/DC studio albums, Ballbreaker, Stiff Upper Lip, Black Ice, Rock or Bust and Power Up, with Black Ice being the band's biggest hit on the charts since For Those About to Rock We Salute You in 1981.

Due to legal problems culminating in his house arrest, Rudd was replaced by former AC/DC drummer Chris Slade for the band's 2015-2016 Rock or Bust tour.

In September 2020, AC/DC posted a photo on social media listing the band's new lineup, including Rudd on drums, as well as a photo featuring him, Angus, Brian Johnson, Cliff Williams and Stevie Young reunited.[13]

Rudd did not join the band for their 2023 performance at Power Trip. Instead, AC/DC recruited American drummer Matt Laug.

Head Job European tour 2017[edit]

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.[14]

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.[15][16] The tour began in Oslo, Norway on 31 March 2017 and visited Sweden, the UK, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.[17] The latter part of the tour was rescheduled for 2018 and then cancelled.[18]

It was officially confirmed on 30 September 2020 that Rudd had rejoined AC/DC, after two years of rumours that he, along with fellow band mates Brian Johnson and Cliff Williams, would be returning.

Personal life[edit]

Born on 19 May 1954 in Melbourne, Rudd came from a German and Irish background; his stepfather was Lithuanian.[19] He began playing drums in his teens and became serious about pursuing a career in music.[12] He played in several bands in Melbourne before joining Buster Brown with future Rose Tattoo vocalist Angry Anderson.[20] They went on to release one album, Something To Say, in 1974, before Rudd left to join the Coloured Balls with Lobby Loyde.

Rudd married New Zealander Lisa O'Brien in 1983. They have five children. The pair separated in 2006.[21][22]

Drug conviction and appeal[edit]

On 1 December 2010, Rudd was convicted of possessing 25 g of marijuana on his boat in Tauranga, New Zealand,[23] but later had his cannabis conviction quashed on the grounds that it would have stopped him from continuing to tour with AC/DC.[24]


On 30 July 2011, it was announced that Rudd 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.[25] The restaurant closed temporarily in July 2012, and reopened on 10 April 2013.[26] In 2014, Rudd was ordered to pay more than $70,000 to three former employees for unjustified dismissal.[27] On 5 May 2019 Phil's Place changed ownership, and was renamed "Salinity Restaurant and Bar".[28]

Death threats and drug charges[edit]

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.[29][30] The charge of attempting to procure a murder was withdrawn the following day.[31] 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.[32]

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.[3] 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."[33] 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."[34] 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."[35]

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.[36][37][38] A subsequent appeal of the sentence to the High Court was dismissed.[36][39] 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.[40]

In November 2023, Rudd announced the sale of his personal memorabilia, including drum kits and drumsticks from renowned performances, to support the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation. Motivated by his partner Toni Wilson's fight against terminal stage 4 breast cancer, Rudd's initiative aimed to raise funds and awareness for the disease.[41]

Further reading[edit]

  • Walker, Clinton (1994), Highway to Hell: The Life and Times of AC/DC Legend Bon Scott, Verse Chorus Press, ISBN 0-283-06263-0
  • Stenning, Paul; Johnstone, Rob (2005). AC/DC: Two Sides to Every Glory: The Complete Biography. Chrome Dreams. ISBN 1-84240-308-7.



  1. ^ "Bio at". Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  2. ^ Lithuanian spelling: Rudzevičius
  3. ^ a b Reed, Ryan (11 February 2015). "AC/DC Announce North American 'Rock or Bust' Tour". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  4. ^ "AC/DC confirm Chris Slade will replace Phil Rudd on their 2015 tour". The Guardian. London. 13 February 2015. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  5. ^ Engleheart, Murray AC/DC – Maximum Rock N Roll 2003 ISBN 0-7322-8383-3
  6. ^ McFarlane, Ian (1999) Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop 'AC/DC' entry at the Wayback Machine (archived 6 August 2004). Archived from the original on 6 August 2004. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  7. ^ Cornell, Jeff. "Bon Scott Reveals Phil Rudd Breakdown on AC/DC Tour in Letter". Loudwire. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  8. ^ Acott, Kent. "Former AC/DC frontman Bon Scott's tour letter bought at auction by WA Government for $14,000". Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Metal Hammer & Classic Rock present AC/DC", Metal Hammer magazine special, 2005
  10. ^ Circus, Oct. 1983
  11. ^ Hit Parader, Nov. 1983
  12. ^ a b Eduardo Rivadavia. "Phil Rudd". AllMusic.
  13. ^ McCarthy, Tyler (30 September 2020). "AC/DC reuniting with original band members for a new album". Fox News. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  14. ^ "AC/DC drummer goes solo". Triple M Rock Radio. 16 July 2014. Archived from the original on 23 March 2016. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  15. ^ "AC/DC's Phil Rudd on his new life, new love, upcoming toure". Annemarie Quill. 31 August 2016.
  16. ^ "AC/DC's Phil Rudd creates own band". Bay of Plenty Times. 3 December 2016.
  17. ^ "ACDC's Phil Rudd announces European tour dates". AXS. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  18. ^ "Promoters out of pocket as Phil Rudd reps go awol | IQ Magazine". IQ Magazine. 19 July 2018. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  19. ^ "Phil Rudd interview: "Kiss were like a cartoon band"". Skiddle. 31 March 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  20. ^ Holmgren, Magnus. "Buster Brown". Australian Rock Database. Magnus Holmgren. Archived from the original on 27 November 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  21. ^ Savage, Jared (22 April 2015). "Inside the world of AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd". NZ Herald. BOP Times. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  22. ^ "Phil Rudd's son: 'Dad's a good guy'". NZ Herald. 10 November 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  23. ^ "AC/DC drummer convicted of drug possession – National – NZ Herald News". 1 December 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  24. ^ "AC/DC drummer's appeal succeeds". 1 April 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  25. ^ Skellern, Graham (30 July 2011). "AC/DC star buys marina restaurant". Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  26. ^ "AC/DC rocker's restaurant reopens". SunLive. 10 April 2013.
  27. ^ "AC/DC drummer ordered to pay Tauranga staff". TVNZ.
  28. ^ "SunLive - New ownership and new name for Phil's Place - The Bay's News First". Retrieved 22 December 2022.
  29. ^ Tony Wall (6 November 2014). "AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd on procuring murder charge". Fairfax Media. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  30. ^ "AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd on New Zealand murder plot charge". BBC News. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  31. ^ Katie Kenny (7 November 2014). "AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd: Procuring murder charge dropped". Fairfax Media.
  32. ^ "AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd angry over solo flop". 21 April 2015. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  33. ^ "AC/DC 'had issues' with drummer Phil Rudd". BBC. 14 November 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  34. ^ "AC/DC's Angus Young would be 'aghast' at Phil Rudd". The Age. 14 November 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  35. ^ "Former AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd breaks his silence". 9news. 5 May 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  36. ^ a b Rudd v R, 2015 NZHC 2399 (2 October 2015), archived from the original on 8 December 2015.
  37. ^ Shedden, Iain (9 July 2015). "AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd sentenced to home detention for drugs, kill threats". The Australian. News Limited. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  38. ^ "AC/DC Drummer Phil Rudd Sentenced to Eight Months of Home Detention". loudwire. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  39. ^ "Phil Rudd loses appeal against conviction". Radio New Zealand. 6 October 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  40. ^ Annemarie Quill,Phil Rudd: 'I've stopped all the crazy stuff', Bay of Plenty Times, 14 May 2016
  41. ^ Quill, Annemarie (18 November 2023). "AC/DC rocker Phil Rudd sells up for 'love of his life' who is dying of cancer". Stuff. Retrieved 19 November 2023.


  • Circus Magazine, October 1983: 'Phil Rudd Exits AC/DC'
  • Hit Parader, November 1983: 'AC/DC – To Hell And Back'

External links[edit]