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Have AC/DC accidentally confirmed Phil Rudd and Brian Johnson are back?

(Image credit: Photo by Joey Foley/FilmMagic/Getty)

AC/DC might have just accidentally leaked the news that drummer Phil Rudd and vocalist Brian Johnson have rejoined the rock legends after a series of photos were posted to the band's website, before being hastily removed.

The images, which were reported by a Brazilian fan site, show the band - including Rudd and Johnson - performing on stage with guitarist Stevie Young. Stevie joined AC/DC in 2014, replacing his uncle, Malcolm Young. 

However, Rudd's departure from the band prior to the Rock or Bust tour means that the recently-surfaced photos would be the first of Rudd and Stevie sharing a stage, adding weight to the rumour of Rudd's return. The fan site claims that the photos come from a performance shot in the Netherlands earlier this year, signalling that a new album and video are on the way.

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Phil Rudd was fired from AC/DC after recording Rock or Bust (replaced by Chris Slade), amid a slew of legal and personal problems following his arrest for drug possession, two threats to kill and one charge of attempting to procure a murder. 

The charge for attempting to procure a murder was dropped almost immediately, along with one of the threats to kill. Rudd pleaded guilty to the drug possession charges and served 8 months of house detention.

In 2017, Rudd told us "I was just being a fucking dickhead. I shot myself in the foot. You make your own bed, mate. You make your own mistakes and you have to deal with them and that is what I have done. Hindsight is 20/20.”

The images also show Brian Johnson, who left AC/DC in 2016 due to reported extensive hearing loss. Axl Rose famously filled-in for Johnson on the band's subsequent tours, but rumours of Johnson and Rudd's return have been circling since 2018, when the two were spotted outside of Warehouse Studios, Vancouver - the same studio AC/DC have used to record their last three albums.

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.