AC/DC's Cliff Williams Explains 2016 Retirement, Decision To Return
By Andrew Magnotta @AndrewMagnotta
October 8, 2020
AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams says his retirement from live music in 2016 wasn't because he had any issues with the state of the band.
Williams was dealing with his own serious health issues and felt it was time to move on.
“To be quite frank, it was not an easy tour to finish,” he told Rolling Stone, of the 'Rock or Bust' tour. “I had some health issues that I won’t bore you with the details of. But I had stuff going on while I was on the road, terrible vertigo. For me, I just thought that it was my time.”
Co-founding guitarist Malcolm Young stepped aside from the band in 2014. Then despite performing on the Rock or Bust album, drummer Phil Rudd was unable to embark on the 2016 tour due to legal issues he needed to address in New Zealand. Frontman Brian Johnson then left the tour early on to get treatment for severe hearing loss. The band then took several weeks off before making the controversial decision to continue the tour with Axl Rose in Johnson's place.
Given the upheaval in the band and its uncertain future, not many fans questioned Williams' announcement that he would retire at the tour's conclusion, admitting at the time that the band was "a changed animal."
But when AC/DC reconvened in Vancouver to record its forthcoming new album, PWR/UP (due out November 13), Williams was there again. After a few years of respite, the idea of returning to AC/DC was too exciting to pass up.
“It was like the old band back together,” he said. “It was not like starting over again, but as close to the band that’s been together for 40-plus years as we can possibly make it. I didn’t want to miss that.”
PWR/UP is a special album for AC/DC. It's the band's first since Malcolm's death in 2017, yet it still features the legendary rhythm guitarist and songwriter on each track.
The band built its new songs around old tracks Malcolm recorded during sessions for previous records. Guitarist Stevie Young (Angus and Malcolm's nephew) filled in the blanks.
“AC/DC without Mal isn’t AC/DC,” adds Williams. “He’s just there somehow. He’s always here.”
Photo: Getty Images