AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams has confirmed that he will retire from recording and touring after finishing out the band's current world trek. Williams's decision follows a string of personnel changes for the group that started with co-founding guitarist Malcolm Young's departure in 2014 after he was diagnosed with dementia. Last year, drummer Phil Rudd was sentenced to house arrest after he was found guilty on a drug charge, while earlier this year singer Brian Johnson was forced to step down or face the loss of his hearing.
Williams said in a new video message (see below): "It's time for me to step out, and that's all. Not because we've lost Mal, Phil or Brian. I mean, everything changes when something happens like that. When Bon [Scott, vocals] died, it changed then. You know, everything changes, so it's not that. It's just… I'm just ready to get off the road, really, and do what I do…
"In between tours, we take a few years off, so I know how to do that, I know what I'm gonna do. Again, it's just my time. I'm happy. I just need to… Family time now… just chill out and not do this.
"I mean, I couldn't have asked for anything more, being with the people I'm with and have been, and being in this situation with this band, playing this music."
Williams previously told Gulfshore Life about his decision to leave AC/DC: "It's been what I've known for the past forty years, but after this tour I'm backing off of touring and recording. Losing Malcolm, the thing with Phil and now with Brian, it's a changed animal. I feel in my gut it's the right thing."
The 66-year-old Williams is the longest-serving member of the group after co-founder and sole original member Angus Young. He joined the band in mid-1977 and made his debut on its fifth album, 1978's "Powerage", appearing on every record and tour since.
Williams said about his long stint with the group: "When you start out, you kind of hope for success. That's what you are working for. But you never really know. It's been surreal, really."
Assuming neither Rudd nor Johnson return, Williams's exit means that only Angus Young remains from the lineups that recorded classic albums like 1979's "Highway To Hell", 1980's "Back In Black" and 1981's "For Those About To Rock...We Salute You".
The rescheduled dates of AC/DC's North American tour — which are the band's first concerts here with Axl Rose on lead vocals — kicked off in Greensboro, North Carolina on August 27.
Angus Young has not indicated yet what the group's plans are following the completion of the touring cycle for the band's latest album, "Rock Or Bust".
The final show of the North American leg of the "Rock Or Bust" tour will take place tonight (Tuesday, September 20) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.