UPDATE: The band has announced that guitarist Malcolm Young is taking a leave of absence because of poor health. Earlier, lead singer Brian Johnson described the illness as “debilitating.” Get the full story
Rumors of AC/DC’s imminent demise appear to be exaggerated.
Reports surfaced Monday in the group’s native Australia that the quintet was on the verge of announcing its retirement due to one band member’s (presumably guitarist Malcolm Young’s) serious illness. But insiders tell Billboard that there’s no truth to the rumor, though the group’s management and Columbia Records, its current label, have chosen not to comment on the matter.
Australia’s Noise11.com adds that the source of the retirement rumor was an email sent to Perth radio station 6PR from an anonymous tipster using the handle Thunderstruck. The station subsequently spread the word, setting off a flurry of reports first throughout Australia and then worldwide.
This is hardly the first time AC/DC has been rumored to be on the verge of calling it quits. Frontman Brian Johnson set off a furor in 2011 when he spoke of retirement, though he subsequently claimed to have been quoted out of context.
In fact, he told Billboard at the time that, “A journalist asked me once, ‘What do you think about retirement, Brian, seeing as you’re getting older?’ I said something honest and quite naive; I said, ‘Well, I’ll retire when I can’t do it anymore and as soon as I feel I can’t do it anymore, then I’ll retire.’ Next thing I now there’s a headline, ‘Brian Johnson’s gonna retire’ and I’m like, ‘Y’know, what a piece of shit that guy is.’ And it came out all wrong so you got to be careful what you say. Retirement is like anything… There’s a time when you have to call it quits. I don’t want to do it, and if we can get out and (do) the album and do another short little tour or something, have a bit of fun, I’m your man. I’ll be right there.”
In fact, the retirement speculation ran counter to yet another report that will likely please fans more. According to The Australian, AC/DC has booked six weeks of studio time in Vancouver, to work on a follow-up to 2008’s chart-topping, double-platinum “Black Ice, which was recorded there with producer Brendan O’Brien. Nobody in the band’s camp is commenting on that, either, but earlier this year Johnson predicted that AC/DC would indeed be working on a new album as well as playing a 40-date tour to commemorate the group’s 40th anniversary.