Guns For Hire: Who is going to be on drums for AC/DC at the Grammys?


The 57th Annual Grammy Awards go down this Sunday, and while it’s typically a snoozefest with few surprises, there is a good degree of intrigue about who is going to be behind the drum kit for AC/DC‘s performance. The Australian outfit are riding high on Rock or Bust, the acclaimed new album released in late November, with a tour set to kick off in May; but you can’t hit the road without a drummer in tow, nor can they play the Grammys sans a stickman. Reports are all over the place as to who will be on the skins, one of your Facebook friends is probably rumored to be the guy.

Here at Vanyaland, we’ve crunched the numbers and taken the top five and put the odds on them for your betting pleasure.

Phil Rudd
Odds: 50:1


Why? Rudd is THE drummer of AC/DC. Everybody’s favorite purported murder-for-hire procurer provided the foundation for all of the classic AC/DC records; Back in Black, Highway to Hell and Powerage. Despite going through some well-publicized personal issues over the past several months, he was able to do an admirable job on Rock or Bust.

Why Not? He’s a batshit crazy – and that’s not hyperbole; he even proudly titled his 2014 solo debut Head Job. It also happened to feature songs titled “Crazy” and the eerily prescient “When I Get My Hands on You.” In addition to the since dropped trying-to-have-someone-offed allegations, he’s facing charges of threatening to kill and possession of both cannabis and methamphetamine. His next court date is scheduled for February 10 – two days after the Grammy Awards. So how come the odds are so low? Because Rudd is such a nutcase that it wouldn’t be inconceivable for him to jump on a plane and show up at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Sunday with drumsticks on hand.

Bob Richards
Odds: 10:1

Why? Richards was handpicked by the band to replace Rudd in the videos for the Rock or Bust singles “Play Ball” and the record’s title track. Many consider him to be the favorite to make the obvious step and go on the road.

Why not? There’s no telling if Richards would gel with AC/DC for real. Anyone can sit there and mime drum parts to a song for a video. There’s no guarantee that he can translate that into playing in front of 50,000 plus people a night. He’s also in the midst of playing with his band Buck & Evans, though their next live date isn’t until the end of the month. AC/DC could fly him in for a one off, but would they risk breaking him in on such a prominent stage as the Grammys?

Simon Wright
Odds: 75:1

Why? Wright was the AC/DC’s first choice when Rudd left the band (or was fired, depending who you ask) in 1983. He joined them for the tour to support Flick of the Switch and recorded Fly on the Wall, Who Made Who and Blow Up Your Video with the group. Wright’s six year stint in AC/DC was the longest tenure other than Rudd on drums. He also lives in Los Angeles where the Grammys are being held.

Why not? In the history of AC/DC, their time when Wright was in the band is their most maligned; album sales dropped off dramatically and tour attendance dipped yet while none of that can be directly attributed to Wright, why would anybody want to bring back something that would conjure memories of a particularly bad period? Also, Wright left AC/DC to join Dio (though he claims it was mutual) and even though the Aussies may not be as extreme as Keith Richards saying, “Nobody leaves the Stones except in a body bag,” it can’t be looked on with favor that he actually chose to leave the outfit.

Who's the Funk Drummer? Chris Slade, Phil Rudd, Simon Wright (l - r)
Who’s the Funky Drummer? Chris Slade, Phil Rudd, Simon Wright (l – r)

Chris Slade
Odds: 5:1

Why? Slade was on board for the early 90s resurgence that began with The Razor’s Edge. He played on “Thunderstruck,” the second most popular AC/DC song. Last week, he was forced to postpone a signing at an, err, optometrist office in Los Angeles due to what the owner of the practice called, “big news regarding Slade and his career coming in next several days.” To say that sent the Internet into a frenzy would be putting it lightly. Many outlets have run with the theory that Slade is indeed back in the AC/DC fold, including Blabbermouth.

Why not? Dude turns 69 later this year. Age might not be a problem for someone like Charlie Watts, but he isn’t playing “Shoot to Thrill” night in and night out. Also, Slade was unceremoniously asked to sit tight while AC/DC made nice again with Rudd in 1995 as a back up option. He resigned to save a bit of face for that move. Also, his big career news could very well be that he is rejoining the man he played with in the mid 60s, Sir Tom Jones, who also happens to be playing the Grammys on Sunday.

Jackie Kickassis
Odds: 1:1

Why? Because in an exclusive to Vanyaland, Lord Bendover – mouthpiece and leader of Boston’s very own Upper Crust – who play tomorrow night at Johnny D’s in Somerville, verified it. The 18th century aristocrats have developed a sound that closely mirrors the three chord rock that AC/DC has perfected. It’s by far the most logical choice.

“I can confirm with the greatest and most credible assurance that Jackie Kickassis will be sitting in for Phil Rudd for AC/DC’s performance at the Grammy Awards,” Bendover says. “AC/DC humbly requested and the Upper Crust acceded. It was the gentlemanly thing to do.”

Why not? There is no reason why Lord Bendover is not to be believed.

In related news, tonight on The Voltage Factory on VanyaRadio, the classic album spotlight will be on the 40th anniversary of AC/DC’s High Voltage, which came out this month in 1975. The show starts at 8:00pm and can be streamed online or via the TuneIn app.

ACDC Grammys