Former AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd has been sentenced to eight months of home detention over threatening to kill and drugs possession charges.
He pleaded guilty earlier this year and was sentenced today at Tauranga District Court in New Zealand.
His son told Judge Tom Ingram that Rudd, 61, was fighting an addition to methamphetamine, which made him behave erratically, while a colleague said that close friends were concerned about the musician’s health.
The drummer was arrested in November after making threats on the life of a former employee, including offering another person $200,000 to have the first “taken out”. He was angry over the failure of his solo album, which he called a “fucking disaster.” Several illegal substances were found at his home at the time.
His attorney Craig Tuck put Rudd’s behaviour down to “methamphetamine-induced psychosis” and added that he’d agreed a financial settlement with his intended victim in a negotiation that “started badly” but “ended beautifully.”
Rudd’s son said in an affidavit that his father had “a heart of gold and wouldn’t hurt a fly,” adding: “It’s just when the drugs take over, he behaves how he taught me not to.”
Roadie Michael Murchison also offered support, saying: “Phil needs help and many tears were shed by those close to him.”
Rudd’s argument that a conviction would affect his income as a member of AC/DC was rejected after prosecution arguments that there was no evidence he was a member of the band even before his arrest. The Australian giants brought back Chris Slade to play their current Rock Or Bust world tour after Rudd revealed he’d had no contact with them since his arrest.
Judge Ingram said in his ruling that the musician was a “relatively fragile man” who “felt bound to lead a rock star life publicly.” He added: “You are now 61 years old, Mr Rudd – you are not 21.”
He refused to comment as he left court. Tuck says he’s planning to appeal the conviction.
AC/DC biographer Jesse Fink has said the band handled the situation badly. He tells the New Zealand Herald: “They could have issued a ‘We’re behind you Phil’ statement, which Phil was owed for his service to the band. Put his troubles aside and look at how many years he was their drummer – 1975 to 1983 and 1994 to 2015.”
He adds: “Personally I can’t see him going back to AC/DC, and I’d question why he’d want to, given what has happened and how it was handled. He doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone – he drummed on four of the best rock albums in history: Powerage, Let There Be Rock, Back In Black, Highway To Hell.”