Rumors that Australian group AC/DC is retiring shortly appear to be exaggerated. An unsubstantiated story spread like wildfire through Australian media and then on the Internet. However, later reports say that AC/DC is not planning on retirement or permanently unplugging their guitars any time soon.
Media buzz surfaced on Monday in the successful group’s native Australia saying that the quintet was packing it in because one member of the band is seriously ill. Billboard Magazine reported that sources close to the band say that there is no truth to the rumor.
The unconfirmed reports are that guitarist Malcolm Young, 61, is too sick to continue with AC/DC. Malcolm co-founded the band with his brother, Angus, over 40 years ago. The stories that Malcolm returned home to Australia with his family because of a serious ailment led to a flurry of speculation about the highly successful band’s future. The Sydney Morning Herald acknowledged that they do not know why he came home but did help foster speculation that he is unable to continue playing.
AC/DC clearly had not planned on unplugging from their careers imminently and is reportedly booked into a recording studio in Vancouver for six weeks starting May 1. The Young brothers, bassist Cliff Williams, singer Brian Johnson and drummer Phil Rudd are set to record a new album, which would be their first since 2008’s Black Ice. It remains to be seen if they will proceed without Malcolm Young, should he be unable to rejoin them next month.
The quintet is the biggest rock ‘n’ roll export to come out of Australia. AC/DC has sold more than 200 million albums over a career spanning more than four decades. The band’s Black Ice album, their 15th, was an international smash. That album topped sales charts in 29 countries, including the U.S. The group’s biggest hits include Highway to Hell, You Shook Me All Night Long and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. AC/DC was inducted into the Rock and Rock Hall Of Fame in 2003. The Young brothers’ older sibling, George, and Harry Vanda produced their first five albums.
AC/DC had reportedly been planning a 40th anniversary tour tied to the new album. Singer Johnson had told media in February that he would like the band to do 40 dates around the globe to celebrate their 40 years in the music business.
If Malcolm Young is too ill to join the band in the studio and on the tour, it would not be the first time they have changed their lineup. There have been a variety of other band mates that have come and gone, but Young has been an integral member.
This is not the first time rumors of AC/DC permanently unplugging their guitars have surfaced. Front man Johnson spoke of retirement in an interview in 2011, which was interpreted as a signal of an imminent end. Johnson subsequently said he was quoted out of context and really was saying that he will retire when he cannot do it (play music) anymore, with no implication of any planned time.
By Dyanne Weiss