Former AC/DC drummer Chris Slade has once again praised Axl Rose's performance with the band, saying that the GUNS N' ROSES singer "was tremendous from the start."
AC/DC postponed the last ten dates of its North American tour more than five years ago after doctors told singer Brian Johnson he faced a total loss of hearing if he did not stop touring immediately. AC/DC completed the tour in the summer of 2016, with Rose as a "guest vocalist."
Slade, who played drums for AC/DC's "Rock Or Bust" world tour after Phil Rudd was arrested for drug possession and threatening to kill an employee, spoke to Andrew DiCecco of Vinyl Writer Music about how Axl ended up fronting AC/DC. He said: "Yeah. Well, for me, it was quite a long time. Me and my Mrs. had to spend a lot of time in Miami, Florida. Towards that break, which ended in Florida, Brian was really unhappy with what he was doing. And I could hear him perfectly; I was using in-ears and I could hear the band, and him, perfectly. To me, it didn't sound as bad as he thought it was. I kept saying to him, 'Brian, you're doing fine.' But he didn't like it. I don't know the circumstances, but all I knew is that Tim, the tour manager, said, 'Brian's not here anymore. We just gotta hang around.' I went, 'Oh, okay.' It took some time; maybe a month or more. Then we went to Atlanta, Georgia and there was some auditions. I said to [the drum tech] Dick Jones, 'What's tomorrow? Is it a day off?' He said, 'No. It's Axl Rose tomorrow.' I went, 'What!?' I couldn't believe it; I heard all the stories about Axl. The next day, there he is. I shook his hand and thought, 'This guy's not bad at all,' and he was telling jokes. And then he sang and I didn't know he had that voice. I really had no idea he could sing like that. It was tremendous from the start. Within the next day, he was in the band."
Asked if Axl meshed with the band rather seamlessly, Chris said: "In my opinion, yes. People may disagree with me, but again, I could hear him perfectly, too. Some of those notes he hit were unbelievable. He used to warm up for two hours every day. And I know he did because we were either on the same floor or very close. You could hear him on his piano, doing the scales and everything. And as I say, he was quite a funny guy. I know it's not the opinion that a lot of people have of it, but that's my experience of Axl.
"I know in the past he's had his problems, but the guy that I met was a really nice guy, really talented on the case," he added. "He was never late, ever. That's what I was afraid of, more than anything, because AC/DC is never late, not even to the second. If it's an 8:30 show, it's an 8:30 show. On that tour, by the way, there was one night where there was a glitch. I don't know what it was, exactly — a guitar wasn't working properly — and we were about a half an hour late going on. I found out afterward that was the only time that AC/DC were ever late for a show. They're pretty conscientious like that; everything has to be spot-on."
Slade followed Simon Wright in AC/DC's lineup, joining in time to play on 1990's "The Razor's Edge" album. When Rudd returned in 1995, Slade was shown the door and harbored some bad feelings about that for a while. Although he's 74, he still hits the drums as hard as ever.
Slade has been busy touring with his band THE CHRIS SLADE TIMELINE, which finds him performing selections across his five-decade career.