AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd charged with attempting to hire a hit man to kill two people

Washington Post – by Terrence McCoy

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Phil Rudd, who has drummed for AC/DC for decades, was charged in New Zealand court Thursday morning with drug possession and trying to hire a hitman to kill two people.

Pictures show a bedraggled Rudd, shoeless and in a tattered sweater, arriving at a Tauranga District Court for a hearing, where he was accused of attempting to arrange the murders of two people, threatening to kill a complainant, and possession of methamphetamine and cannabis.  

According to local reports, Rudd appeared stunned, and didn’t say a word or offer a plea while standing in the defendant’s dock. The Australian-born drummer, who was released following the hearing, was detained by police after they raided his posh home earlier Thursday morning. At the hearing, Judge Louis Bidois ordered Rudd to have no further contact with the man he allegedly attempted to hire to do the hits. Authorities have not released the identity of the alleged hitman or of the intended victims.

If convicted of the crimes, which allegedly occurred on Sept. 25 and Sept 26, Rudd faces 10 years in prison.

The allegations come at an already-difficult time for the band. Amid plans for an album release and additional touring, the band’s founding guitarist, Malcolm Young, just quit after the revelation he has dementia. The charges against Rudd now place the future of one of rock’s greatest acts even further into question.

Those who know the musician expressed dismay at the allegations. Jesse Fink, who authored a biography on his band called, “The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC,” told the Daily Mail Australia that he was “stunned, absolutely stunned.” He added Rudd had “deteriorated” in the past several years. Ex-manager Michael Browning added the allegations were “a bit of a shock, but there you go.”

Rudd’s no stranger to the New Zealand judicial process, nor even to Judge Bidois. Rudd was first convicted or possessing 25 grams of marijuana in 2010. Then he got into a bizarre pay dispute over $65,000 worth of T-shirts connected to his failed restaurant, Phil’s Place. Later, in March of this year, he faced off with the same judge. The drummer was charged with deliberately lying about his drug history to renew his private pilot’s license. Rudd, who at one time held a helicopter pilot’s license, allowed it expire and offered an unusual explanation: His family got in the way.

“You can have kids or a helicopter; you know how it goes,” Rudd then told the judge, who acquitted the musician despite some reservations. Rudd elaborated: “I was back on the road for three tours, worked harder than a Bering Sea fisherman, and I made a lot of money and thought I would buy a helicopter. I’ve got everything else. Have you seen my garage?”

As of Thursday morning, police indeed have.

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