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Chris Slade Reveals the Reason He Quit AC/DC, Hints at Firm Reunion

Chris Slade
Charley Gallay, Getty Images

Drummer Chris Slade came to AC/DC in the late ’80s after building an impressive resume with a long list of rock acts that included Manfred Mann, David Gilmour, and the short-lived Paul Rodgers/Jimmy Page supergroup the Firm. His arrival coincided with a return to chart-topping form for the band, but by the mid-’90s, he was out of the lineup, replaced by the band’s former drummer, Phil Rudd.

The reasons for Slade’s departure were addressed in a recent interview with MusicRadar, and as he tells it, the whole thing happened due to a poorly timed conversation between himself and guitarist Malcolm Young. “I’d been doing demos with the guys in London for two months. Mal called me and said it was nothing to do with me and was nothing I was doing or not doing, but they wanted to give Phil a try. I said, ‘That’s me out then, I’m gone,’” he recalled. “Mal said, ‘No, no, no we want to keep you on, we don’t even know if Phil can play,’ and I told him that was his problem now. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I resigned the next day.”

Adding that “they wanted to keep me on for months and months and that didn’t feel right,” Slade laughed, “It was probably my stupid pride. If that was my son I would now say, ‘No, just sit there, they’ll come back to you.’ To be honest, I think they would have! But they’re very proud themselves and they wouldn’t come back now.”

Despite Slade’s wounded pride, no permanent damage was done to his relationships with the other band members. “We still get on, and it was an honor and a privilege to play with those guys,” he explained. “People always ask me what I did when things went wrong on stage with AC/DC. Nothing ever went wrong. I might drop a drum stick, maybe, but that was about the only thing. They were like clockwork, like a machine. Just fantastic. What a wonderful experience.”

These days, Slade’s on the road with his latest project, the Chris Slade Timeline, which finds him performing selections across his five-decade career — but he did drop an intriguing tidbit regarding one potential future gig. Asked if he ever wished the Firm had stayed together longer, he said, “We were going to put it together again. There were talks between their people, our people, people and other people and it was going to be put back together — and then this tiny, lesser-known band called Led Zeppelin got back together and did their reunion, which knocked it on the head. Who knows what will happen? Never say never. It might happen.”

Next: AC/DC's Best Songs

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