AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams initially announced his retirement from the band in 2016, citing a desire to remain off the road. With the band back together for the forthcoming Power Up album, Williams has commented on the band’s future and that he is committed to playing “a few shows.”
The band’s last run was the now infamous Rock or Bust tour. The trek sidelined singer Brian Johnson with hearing issues (Axl Rose was later tapped as the interim singer to wrap up the run) and saw drummer Chris Slade step in for the Phil Rudd who had been embroiled in a litany of legal woes on top of Williams’ impending retirement once the tour had concluded.
For many reasons, also including the 2017 death of rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young who had previously stepped down in 2014, it felt like the end of AC/DC, at least as we knew them. But the group banded together to record Power Up, which Williams has said was done in tribute to their late, iconic guitar player.
On the “Let There Be Rock” podcast with comedian and headbanger Dean Delray (audio below), Williams insisted his decision to retire came before other problems crept into AC/DC, namely Johnson’s inability to finish the tour as he was at risk of permanent hearing loss if he did.
“It was before then,” affirmed Williams, who added, “I spoke to Angus [Young] about it initially. I was at a point — and this is at the beginning of the Rock Or Bust tour — that I just felt, for me, it was time to hang it up. I knew that I didn’t wanna keep doing these two-year tours, and I didn’t wanna hold them back, so I made them aware of the fact that this was gonna be my last go-round. It was a tough tour to finish. God bless Axl for coming in and helping us out, finish it up. He did a great job. And at the end of that, I was definitely — that was it for me. Done — just done. That compounded the whole thing.”
Regarding in what ways the Power Up record will honor Malcolm, Williams noted, “If Back In Black has Bon Scott all over it, for me, Power Up has got Malcolm Young. This is for him. And it’s the band that we played together with for 40-plus years. And I wanted to do that — I wanted to come back and do that.”
Malcolm Young is credited as a writer on all 12 Power Up tracks, though the album does not feature any of his recorded guitar playing, but rather ideas he had previously come up with that were used in the writing process.
Despite a reunited AC/DC lineup, which also consists of Angus Young’s nephew Stevie Young on guitar in Malcolm’s absence, don’t plan on the legendary group embarking on another exhaustive world tour.
“We did some rehearsals earlier this year before this darn COVID thing popped up, and we had great rehearsals. The band was playing really well. So [they asked me], ‘Do you wanna do a few shows? ‘Sure’. A few shows. We were planning on doing that,” the bassist confirmed.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic put those plans on hold. “Everyone goes home to their respective homes, and bang, we’ve been here ever since [because of the coronavirus-related shutdown],” lamented Williams.
Regarding his reasoning for not wanting to do any extended touring, Williams also explained, “For both [my mental and physical] health,” he said. “I definitely have some physical issues, which I won’t bore you with the details of. But, yeah, it’s tough. I’m very grateful for everything. It’s been fantastic. But I just don’t wanna do that anymore.”
AC/DC’s Power Up arrives on Nov. 13. Listen to the first single, “Shot in the Dark,” here.
Cliff Williams on the ‘Let there Be Rock’ Podcast
See AC/DC in the 20 Best Selling Albums in the U.S.