A recent Instagram post has added fuel to rumors that not only does AC/DC guitarist Angus Young intend to continue AC/DC with himself as the band's only original member, but he will be doing so after writing a new album with Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose.
Longtime Guns N' Roses tour manager Del James recently shared a photo of an old Atlantic Records letter from 1978, announcing the released of AC/DC's Powerage album. James' decision to share the photo is unclear, and he provided no caption for context. GNR's camp is full of AC/DC fanboys, from the top down, so maybe James was sharing something he bought for a collection or rediscovered among old documents of his.
Many GNR fans are taking it as a reference to the ongoing connection between the two legendary rock bands. There's a lot of evidence that we haven't seen the last of "Axl/DC."
Veteran rock journalist and AC/DC biographer Murray Engleheart this winter all but staked his reputation on the claim that Young and Rose are writing a new AC/DC album.
"What was a massive gamble by Angus turned out to be an equally enormous triumph that has set the scene for the future," Engleheart said at the time.
Then in March, Rose Tattoo frontman Angry Anderson, who is a longtime friend of Young's, said the guitarist is hard at work writing music for the new record. Anderson told Rockpit in an interview that Young confirmed to him during a conversation that Axl is part of the overhauled AC/DC lineup.
"I said to him 'What are you going to do?' and he said 'Mate, I’m writing a new album,'" Anderson told Rockpit. "I asked him who was in the band and he said 'Axl.' Brian’s not there, Phil’s not there, Cliff’s not there, sadly, Malcolm’s not there."
Longtime AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams retired after AC/DC's Rock or Bust World Tour, which concluded with Rose fronting the group. Rose only joined the band after longtime frontman Brian Johnson was forced to step back due to severe hearing loss. On-again-off-again drummer Phil Rudd left the band in 2014 due to a litany of legal and personal issues. Angus' brother Malcolm Young died in November, about seven years after retiring due to early-onset dementia.
Many AC/DC fans have been critical of the band's parting ways with Johnson, and it surely put Rose in a tough position in terms of winning over the band's audience. But other fans have pointed out that Johnson was also not an original member, having joined the band after the death of Bon Scott.
The counter argument is that AC/DC enjoyed its most successful period with Johnson fronting the band, releasing a string of massive albums, beginning with 1980's Back in Black. Perhaps that's why Young is (allegedly) determined to record a new AC/DC album: to give Rose some equity in the band and make it seem less like "karaoke," as Def Leppard's Phil Collen recently described it.
AC/DC has certainly bounced back before after losing key members; a great new album would change a lot of minds.
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