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AC/DC’s Cliff Williams to Retire After Current Tour

(Image credit: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

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.”

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Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player (opens in new tab) magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World (opens in new tab), a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.