The story behind AC/DC's turbulent 12 months
With the band’s line-up decimated, it’s stick, twist or bust time for Angus, the last man standing in rock’s Aussie rulers
On March 7, 2016, AC/DC issued an official statement that was as blunt and to the point as one of their songs. It read: “AC/DC are forced to reschedule the 10 upcoming dates on the US leg of their Rock Or Bust world tour.
"AC/DC’s lead singer, Brian Johnson, has been advised by doctors to stop touring immediately or risk total hearing loss. Tomorrow’s show in Atlanta through Madison Square Garden, New York in early April will be rescheduled, likely with a guest vocalist.” And with that, Johnson’s 36-year tenure with the band seemed to have been brought to an abrupt end.
He was, of course, not the first casualty of the troubled Rock Or Bust campaign. Nineteen months earlier, the band confirmed that Malcolm Young, their de facto leader, had been stricken with dementia and was unable to continue with them. And that November, drummer Phil Rudd was arrested and charged with attempting to procure a murder, threatening to kill and possession of methamphetamine and cannabis. The murder charge was subsequently dropped, but by then Rudd had been booted out of the band.
Even without two-thirds of their crack rhythm section, the band soldiered on. In came Malcolm’s nephew, Stevie Young, on second guitar, and Chris Slade on drums, both of whom had ably filled in at different times before.