UPDATE: Incredibly, New Zealand police have now decided they made a mistake charging Phil Rudd with attempting to procure a murder, and have dropped the charge.
Rudd's lawyer, Mr Mabey, stated: "I was advised by the Crown Solicitor Hollister-Jones that he had reviewed the police file and the available evidence to support the charge of attempting to procure murder. He had formed the view that there was insufficient evidence to justify that charge. He has now withdrawn the charge."
Mr Mabey said the charges "should never have been laid. The Crown Solicitors opinion was not sought. The charge is now withdrawn - within 24 hours of Mr Rudd's first appearance in court."
Phil Rudd, he said, had "suffered unnecessary and extremely damaging publicity as a result of widespread and sensational reporting of a very serious allegation, which, on any basis, was never justified".
Phil Rudd had recently complained of being harassed by local police. Hitting Rudd with such a damaging charge, and then almost immediately dropping makes Rudd's claims more plausible.
By Darryl Mason
More than twelve hours after the incredible news that AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd had been arrested for allegedly trying to hire a 'hitman' to kill two people (charges now dropped), AC/DC released a short, sharp official statement on their Facebook page:
AC/DC: "We've only become aware of Phil's arrest as the news was breaking. We have no further comment. Phil's absence will not affect the release of our new album Rock or Bust and upcoming tour next year."
That's it, no other comment, nothing more to say. Phil Rudd is out, or so it would seem, and AC/DC will move forward with plans to release their new album, 'Rock Or Bust' and tour the world.
The reaction on Facebook from fans was mixed. Along with requests to tour 100 different countries around the world, hundreds more pitched themselves, or their friends, to be AC/DC's new drummer. But some AC/DC fans were shocked by the band's reaction to Phil Rudd's arrest:
"That's one way to wash your hands of him"Rudd was arrested yesterday morning at his home in New Zealand, and held by police until he faced court just after midday. He appeared disheveled, barefoot, looking tired, weary and confused.
"You've replaced every other member within a fortnight so why would this case be any different?"
"Way to stand by your Man, you blokes. Isnt he ya mate no more?"
"Man AC/DC, your response is kinda cold, but the show must go on - I guess."
"That does indeed sound a message of strong support for your comrade. For those about to tour, we'll ignore you."
The 60 year old Rudd was charged with threatening to kill, attempting to procure murder and possession of cannabis and methamphetamine.
As a million tweeters and Facebook posters pointed out, hiring someone to kill for you is the subject matter of at least 3 AC/DC songs, but the story gets even weirder.
The man Rudd allegedly hired to do his killing has denied any knowledge of Rudd's requests to local media, and defended him. "He's a good fella, with a big heart."
Rudd and the unnamed man have been on fishing expeditions and flights in Rudd's helicopter, as well as tooling around New Zealand's islands in sports cars.
"You've got to feel sorry for him," the man said, "just the expectations everyone has of him."
Rudd is not expected to tour with AC/DC next year, and they may announce his departure from the band before the late November release of 'Rock Or Bust.'
The drummer was clearly looking forward to hitting the road again in 2015 with AC/DC, when he was giving interviews in August for his solo album.
""Angus Young will never retire,” he declared. "We were never going to retire. It’ll never happen. Angus will never retire and as long as Angus never retires I won’t fucking retire either."
“I’ll get a call a month before they need me," Rudd explained, of how a new AC/DC tour begins. "We’ve done some long, hard tours. It’s not easy. You do it for 18 months you’re the walking dead when you finish, especially as you get older. But everything’s great in the band, we’re ready to fire up on all cylinders again.”
During those interviews, Rudd also revealed his drumming sessions for the new album, written entirely by Angus Young, took 10 days to record, back in May, in Vancouver.
What happens next to Phil Rudd is anyone's guess, but being fired from AC/DC, on top of fighting some hardcore police charges, will have a psychological impact. At least publicly, AC/DC have made it clear Rudd is on his own, though behind-the-scenes support is likely being offered, if not by band members then at least management. No-one in AC/DC would want this year to become anymore tragic.
Phil Rudd was already well known in Australian rock music circles, particularly the thriving Melbourne scene, before he first sat in as AC/DC's drummer near the end of 1974, doing time with Angry Anderson in Buster Brown, and Lobby Loyde's Coloured Balls.
A close friend of Bon Scott, Phil Rudd was left shattered by his mate's death in 1980, just as the band was on the brink of mega-stardom. Massive success still found the band, with the Back In Black album, but Rudd was caught up in alcohol abuse and drug habits that eventually saw him fired, or asked to leave, AC/DC in 1983, after what was said to be a horrible showdown with AC/DC founder Malcolm Young.
The AC/DC sound was lacking with the departure of Rudd, a swing king and snap-tight beat keeper, and almost a decade would pass before he jammed once more with AC/DC and officially rejoined in 1994.
In total, Rudd has been AC/DC's drummer for almost 30 years, and played on their most acclaimed, and most successful, albums - Powerage, Back In Black and Black Ice, but it seems clear by AC/DC's statement, and the fact that Rudd would be unable to tour with such a heavy court case hanging over his head, and possible drug convictions, that Phil Rudd is no longer a member of AC/DC.
After the departure of founder and rhythm guitarist, Malcolm Young, earlier this year, due to dementia, this now means Angus Young is the sole remaining member of the AC/DC line-up that became the biggest hard rock band in the world in the early 1980s.
As stated, AC/DC intend to tour their new album 'Rock Or Bust' in 2015. Tour dates were expected to be announced with the release of the album in late November.
Some fans are insistent that without Malcolm Young and now Phil Rudd, AC/DC shouldn't tour and should just call it quits. But AC/DC are, literally, too big to break up. At least right now. As a business, they employ 100s of people, and as a touring entity, thousands more will be employed across the course of the 'Rock Or Bust' tour. Hundreds of millions of dollars in ticket and merchandise and concert broadcast rights will be generated, probably closer to one billion dollars by the time it's all done sometime in 2016.
Banks can be too big to fail. And so can bands.
Not many now. But AC/DC is still one of them.
Rock or Bust?
Clearly, AC/DC intend to Rock.