Switch It On

At the start of 1983, Malcolm and Phil headed back to Australia to relax, Cliff took off to Hawaii with his wife, and Angus jetted to Holland. Brian, in the meantime, was forced to leave Newcastle for tax reasons, and he decided to move to Florida. Everything seemed to be going smoothly the whole band, but some major changes were just ahead. Out went manager Peter Mensch and CCC organization, with tour manager Ian Jeffreys taking over the band’s day-to-day activities. Malcolm had emerged as the business brain and powerbroker within AC/DC. “Mutt” Lange was ousted in the process as well, with the band producing the new album.

The atmosphere surrounding the band was very tense. Perhaps it was the relentless touring that was taking its effect or the pressure of coping with Bon’s death was finally taking its toll (they’d hardly had a break since that fateful day), who knows. One amusing story emerged at the time, alleging that tapes of the new album’s recordings were being flown back to England for ex-producer Lange to comment on. Of course the allegation wasn’t true.

As recording got into its stride, Phil Rudd was fired. Apparently he had been doing too many drugs. Things got so bad that towards the end of the last tour, he was hallucinating about finding strangers in his room. To make matters worse, Mal and Phil had some personal differences that eventually led to a physical confrontation and two hours later Phil was flying home. He moved to New Zealand where he bought a helicopter business and gave up professional music completely.

By that time, the band had finished recording. Originally titled “I Want To Rock”, the new album was released in late August under the title “Flick Of The Switch”. At this time, Brian opened a recording studio in Newcastle for young bands.

AC/DC had attempted a couple of times to find a good replacement for Phil Rudd. For the third attempt, they just placed a simple advertisement in a British music press that said, “Heavy rock drummer wanted. If you don’t hit hard, don’t apply”. After an exhausting filtering process, AC/DC finally named 20-year-old ex-Tytan drummer Simon Wright as Rudd’s replacement. By October, the young sticksman had made his live debut with AC/DC in Vancouver, Canada. Just a few dates later, Wright found himself and the band in trouble when the Tacoma Dome in Seattle was nearly set alight when a fan fired a rocket into ceiling while the band was ironically playing a number from their new album, “This House Is On Fire”.

During the winter, AC/DC toured through the States and Canada. On August 18, 1984 AC/DC became the first band to return as headliners at the fourth Monsters Of Rock festival at Castle Donington. Joining them on the bill this time were Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne, Gary Moore, Y & T, Accept, and Motley Crue. After Donington, the band undertook a series of dates in Europe, which included more “Monsters Of Rock” festivals. However, the biggest festival of all came in January 1985 when AC/DC joined in the very first Rock In Rio in Brazil. The band did two nights at the festival, performing before a record crowd of 400,00 fans. The bill also included Queen, the Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne, Yes, Iron Maiden, and Whitesnake.

In the meantime, back in October 1984, a new EP entitled “74 Jailbreak” was released in the United States, collecting five vintage Bon Scott-era tracks previously unavailable in the US and taken from the Australian editions of “High Voltage” and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”.

After Rio, the band took another lengthy break.