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

Ethan Miller, Getty Images
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Bassist Cliff Williams, the second-longest tenured member of AC/DC, will retire after the band’s troubled tour in support of Rock or Bust. In the end, it seems the loss of three bandmates in quick succession was more than Williams could take.

“It’s been what I’ve known for the past 40 years, but after this tour I’m backing off of touring and recording,” Cliff tells Gulfshore Life. “Losing Malcolm [Young], the thing with Phil [Rudd] and now with Brian [Johnson], it’s a changed animal. I feel in my gut it’s the right thing.”

News that original rhythm guitarist Young would retire following a dementia diagnosis arrived before AC/DC completed their current album; nephew Stevie Young took over. Rudd, who performed on Rock or Bust, was then replaced by ex-AC/DC drummer Chris Slade after a series of legal issues. Finally, Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose ended up serving as a sub for Johnson when the band’s long-time frontman was faced with catastrophic hearing loss.

That left Williams and stalwart guitarist Angus [Young], together since 1978’s Powerage. Over the years, Williams contributed to a stunning 11-album run of platinum or multi-platinum sales. Rock or Bust then peaked at No. 1 in 12 countries. “When you start out, you kind of hope for success,” Williams admits. “That’s what you are working for. But you never really know. It’s been surreal, really.”

His departure leaves Slade – who had an earlier stint from 1989-94 – as the most veteran member of AC/DC after Angus Young, who co-founded the group in 1973. Stevie Young sat in briefly in 1988 before returning in 2014.

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