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Nov 6, 2014 8:40 AM

AC/DC's Phil Rudd accused of murder-for-hire plot

The Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) Australian rock band AC/DC says the arrest of its drummer in an alleged murder-for-hire plot won't affect its upcoming tour or album release.

Phil Rudd, a band member off-and-on for nearly three decades, was accused Thursday of trying to arrange two killings as well as possession of drugs.

AC/DC released a statement through publicist Benny Tarantini on Thursday saying band members had "only become aware of Phil's arrest as the news was breaking."

"We have no further comment. Phil's absence will not affect the release of our new album 'Rock or Bust' and upcoming tour next year."

"Rock or Bust" is due to be released on Dec. 2 and will be the band's first new studio album in six years. The band plans to promote it during a world tour next year.

Rudd, 60, appeared briefly at the Tauranga District Court in his adopted home of New Zealand and was charged with attempting to procure murder, which carries a maximum prison term of 10 years. Rudd, who was released on bail, has also been charged with threatening to kill and possession of methamphetamine and marijuana. One of the conditions is that he must not have any contact with anyone involved in the alleged plot.

A judge suppressed the names of the alleged intended victims and would-be hit man, the newspaper said.

The court declined to release further details.

Rudd's lawyer Paul Mabey said he was still getting up to speed on the case and had no comment. Mabey was out of town attending a trial when he heard about the charges, he said.

The Bay of Plenty Times newspaper reported that the Australian-born Rudd was accused of trying to hire a hit man to carry out the two killings. Police raided Rudd's home Thursday morning, according to the paper, and held him in custody until his court appearance.

Court staff said Rudd was due to make a second appearance Nov. 27, although that date could change. He has yet to enter a plea.

Rudd and the other members of AC/DC were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

"Featuring guitarist Angus Young as their visual symbol and musical firebrand, they grew from humble origins in Australia to become an arena-filling phenomenon with worldwide popularity. They did so without gimmickry, except for Angus's schoolboy uniform, which became mandatory stage attire," said the Hall of Fame's biography.

According to the biography, Rudd first joined AC/DC in 1974, the year after it was started. Other reports indicate he left the band in 1983 but rejoined again in 1994. The Bay of Plenty Times reported that Rudd first moved to New Zealand in 1983, during the period when he had left the band, and in 2011 bought a Tauranga restaurant he named Phil's Place.

Tauranga is a tranquil coastal city of 110,000. Its warm climate has made it popular with retirees, although it now has a fast-growing younger population too; The restaurant's website says it represents Rudd's long-held vision to "offer you fresh local food at affordable prices delivered by warm and friendly staff."

AC/DC's albums include "Highway to Hell," ''Back in Black," and "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap."

The U.S. military has used the band's music for martial purposes. In 2004, U.S. troops blasted AC/DC's "Hell's Bells" and other rock music full volume in Fallujah, Iraq, hoping to grate on the nerves of insurgents.

AC/DC had been one of the few acts that refused to allow its music to be released digitally on iTunes. It relented in late 2012. This year, the band announced that founding member Malcolm Young, brother of Angus, was leaving due to unspecified health reasons.


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