Cliff Williams has played bass in AC/DC since 1977. By the time the group’s current tour wraps up in September, he’ll have logged nearly 40 years with the Australian rockers.
Apparently 40 years is long enough. Williams says his future plans don’t include continuing with AC/DC.
“It’s been what I’ve known for the past 40 years,” Williams says. “But after this tour I’m backing off of touring and recording.”
His decision was influenced by changes within AC/DC that have been beyond the group’s control. Founding guitarist Malcolm Young was forced to leave the band in 2014 due to dementia. Last March, longtime singer Brian Johnson announced he was suffering from severe hearing damage and could no longer perform. His position was quickly filled by Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose, who signed on to fulfill the group’s tour obligations.
Between the two losses, longtime drummer Phil Rudd fell out with the band and became enmeshed in legal troubles. He was replaced by Chris Slade, who drummed for the band from 1989 to 1994.
“Losing Malcolm, the thing with Phil and now with Brian, it’s a changed animal,” Williams says of the band. As for his decision, “I feel in my gut it’s the right thing.”
Williams says he looks back on his time with the group with happiness. “When you start out, you kind of hope for success,” he says. “That’s what you are working for. But you never really know. It’s been surreal, really.”
In the recently released video from AC/DC below, Williams reflects on his role in the band, saying, “I don’t know what else I would wanna do. I love the music and I love playing in the band and I’m all filled up.”