During a recent appearance on "Talk Is Jericho", the podcast of Chris Jericho, the world champion pro wrestler, actor, New York Times best-selling author and lead vocalist of the metal band FOZZY, former AC/DC drummer Chris Slade spoke about his departure from the band before the recording sessions for 1995's "Ballbreaker".
Slade, who played with AC/DC from 1989 until 1994, exiting when longtime drummer Phil Rudd returned to the lineup, said: "It's funny. One of the last gigs… I think it was the last gig I did with AC/DC, it was in New Zealand, I remember the rain was coming at us horizontally, and I am not exaggerating — horizontally. And we did the full two-and-a-half-hour show, and Phil turned up. And my brain went, 'Mmmm… Here we go. Maybe here we go.' 'Cause Phil don't talk that much, and he was freely talking that day. And so we came off the road, and the guys were doing some demos [for what was to become 'Ballbreaker'] — Angus and [Malcolm Young] — in London. And I said, 'Do you want me to come and play drums for the demos?' 'Cause they usually use a drum machine. And [the told me], 'Yeah, okay. Come on up.' 'Cause I only lived an hour away. So [I] did that, and we were going really well. I was there for maybe a month or even longer — maybe even six weeks. And then I get this call from Malcolm saying, 'There's nothing you've done, or haven't done, but we're gonna try Phil out.' So… silence. And I went, 'Okay, Mal, then I'm gone.' And he went… And this is the truth… 'No no no no. We just wanna try him out. We don't even know if he can play anymore.' And I went, 'Well, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, Mal. I'm gone. I'm resigning right now.' And he went, 'No no no no no. You don't understand.' And I go, 'Mal, if I'm not doing a good enough job for you to say, if Phil's coming back in, then you go, 'No, we're happy with Slade,' then I'm gone. And I did. And the manager called me the next day, and I resigned formally, and that was the end of it. And Phil came back in."
Asked how he felt about his exit from AC/DC when it first happened, Slade said: "Gutted, to be very honest. Absolutely gutted. In fact, I didn't touch a drum stick for three years. It was a real kick in the balls, to be very honest. You think, you know, I've bent over backwards here. I've done — in my opinion, and in many other people's opinions — I've done a great job. And then you get stuffed. And it's, like, I'd had it. So I went to an art college for three years."
Chris also spoke about the fact that he was replaced by Rudd, who was previously a member of AC/DC almost from the band's inception.
"Well, you can't argue with that, to be very honest," Slade said. "And he has a great groove. They grew up together. You cannot compete with that. Even if he was worse than me — he was not, but you see what I mean — they would still have him back. They are very loyal; they really are. I've seen it firsthand. They are incredibly loyal people — until it comes to me. [Laughs]"
Slade recently commented on the news that Malcolm Young was stepping away from AC/DC due to ill health. Slade told U.K.'s Rhythm magazine, "It's terrible to hear about Malcolm. I knew he was ill. He's been ill for a long time, but I think it's come to a head by the sounds of things."
Slade praised his former bandmate, adding, "I've spoken to other guitarists about this — he must be the greatest rhythm guitarist ever born. Even Angus says he's a better guitarist. He makes the drummer's job so easy; he's a metronome."
Slade played on AC/DC's 1990 album "The Razor's Edge" and the 1993 song "Big Gun".
Slade's other credits in his nearly 50-year career include Tom Jones, Gary Numan, MANFRED MANN, URIAH HEEP, David Gilmour, THE FIRM, ASIA and many others.
Rudd recently put his future with AC/DC in doubt, showing up late for the recording sessions, missing a video and photo shoot entirely, and finally being arrested on charges of murder-for-hire, threatening to kill and drug possession. Rudd showed up for a court hearing last month but his status with the band remains unclear.