Who’s Played the Most AC/DC Shows? Singer, Drum and Bass Totals
Since AC/DC's first performance in 1973, the band has gone through a various assortment of lineups. Five singers, seven bassists and eight drummers have played at least one show with the group. Co-founder and lead guitarist Angus Young is the only continuous member throughout AC/DC's career. Below, we take a look at the many men who've shared the stage with Young over the years.
Brian Johnson was the longest-tenured singer in the band, both in terms of years and the number of shows performed. As AC/DC’s frontman from 1980 until his retirement in 2016, Johnson has racked up 1,274 performances, easily putting him in first place on the all-time list.
The second spot goes to the man Johnson replaced, Bon Scott, who joined the group in October 1974, when AC/DC were still in their infancy as a band. They released their first six studio albums with Scott at the helm and gained a reputation as an exciting live act by extensively touring at the time. Scott totaled 880 performances with the band, a number that would have been higher if not for the singer’s death on Feb. 19, 1980.
AC/DC’s original singer, Dave Evans, comes in third on the list. His 78 performances came between December 1973 and September 1974. As the band began to find its sound, changing from glam-rock style to more blues-influenced rock, it became clear Evans wasn't he right frontman for the group. His altercations with manager Dennis Laughlin further strained relations. (Laughlin occasionally filled in for Evans in the early days. No record exists for his number of performances, so he's not on our chart below.)
The fourth and final place on the AC/DC singer list goes to Axl Rose, who still fronts Guns N’ Roses. When Johnson retired from performing due to hearing problems, Rose took up the mantle as AC/DC’s singer, performing 24 shows with the band and helping them complete 2016’s Rock or Bust world tour. Reports have indicated that AC/DC will continue with Rose as their singer, but everyone involved remains quiet regarding what their next step may be.
Phil Rudd’s role as AC/DC’s drummer lasted for two separate stints, 1975-83 and 1994-2015. His addition to the band finally brought stability to a position that had been a revolving door until that point. With Rudd behind the kit, AC/DC's success grew, but even as they moved from Australian clubs to bigger venues across the globe, the rockers maintained an arduous touring schedule. Even with a decade-long gap in his tenure, Rudd far eclipses other drummers in terms of total show count with the band. His 1,528 performances puts him first on our list.
During the decade Rudd was away from the band, Simon Wright took over as AC/DC’s drummer. He officially joined the group in May 1983, contributing to three of their albums and performing on the subsequent tours. Wright amassed 352 gigs behind the kit for AC/DC before leaving the group in November 1989 to join Dio.
In third place on our list sits current AC/DC drummer Chris Slade, who originally joined the band in 1989, following Wright’s departure. He was initially hired as a temporary session drummer, but his work on the band’s album Razor’s Edge convinced the group that he was the right man for the job. He toured extensively with AC/DC throughout the early '90s, eventually leaving on amicable terms after they decided to reunite with former drummer Rudd. Slade returned for the Rock or Bust tour in 2015, taking over for Rudd, who was dealing with legal issues. All told, Slade has performed 248 shows behind the kit for AC/DC.
Peter Clack places fourth on the AC/DC drummer list. His 64 performances with the band came over a 10-month span in 1974. The man he took over for, Colin Burgess, ranks fifth on the list with a total of 44 performances. Burgess was the group’s original drummer but was fired in February 1974 for being drunk onstage. He reunited with the group for about a month in 1975, filling in for Rudd, who was dealing with a hand injury.
The final three spots on the list go to Noel Taylor, Russell Coleman and George Young, respectively. Taylor (with 13 performances) and Coleman (six) each had brief stints drumming in the early days of the band. Young, Angus and Malcolm' s older brother, filled in behind the kit for a single show in February 1974. He's better known for producing several of the band’s biggest albums.
On May 27, 1977, Cliff Williams was invited to join AC/DC as their bass player, beginning a relationship that lasted until 2016, when Williams announced he was retiring. He played his final show with AC/DC on Sept. 20 that year, closing out the Rock or Bust world tour in Philadelphia. Over the course of nearly 40 years with the band, Williams amassed 1,673 performances as AC/DC’s bassist, more than any other musician to hold that role.
Second on the list is Mark Evans, who Williams took over for. Evans joined AC/DC shortly after the completion of their 1975 debut album, High Voltage, and his work was featured on follow-ups T.N.T., Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and Let There Be Rock. The bassist was fired from the group in May 1977, after tensions within the band hit a breaking point. In his two-plus years with AC/DC, Evans racked up 451 performances.
Earning the third spot on our list is Rob Bailey, who played bass for AC/DC from May to December 1974. He can be seen in early video footage of AC/DC during their promotional video for "Can I Sit Next to You Girl." Bailey also recorded bass for the band’s debut album, but his contributions ultimately did not make the record (George Young recorded the parts instead). Bailey was fired on New Year’s Eve 1974. He accumulated 64 performances during his time with the group.
George Young makes another appearance, earning the honor of showing up in both the drummer and bassist lists. He filled in on bass for AC/DC during January and February 1975. He performed 25 gigs during that period, good for fourth on the all-time show list. Original bassist Larry Van Kriedt comes in at fifth, thanks to the 18 shows he performed during the band’s early days. Neil Smith, who performed 13 shows with the band in 1974, comes in sixth. Finally, Paul Matters, who joined the group in February 1975 at the start of their High Voltage tour, ranks seventh. He was part of 12 performances during his brief stay with the band.
It should come as no surprise that rhythm guitar is our shortest list. Only two men have held the role during the course of AC/DC's existence and (spoiler alert!) they're related.
Malcolm Young was the band's original rhythm guitarist, co-founding the group with brother Angus. From AC/DC's beginning until his retirement in 2014, Malcolm was a mainstay of the band's lineup. His only absence during that time was in 1988, when he missed the majority of AC/DC's Blow Up Your Video world tour to address alcohol-abuse issues. Malcolm performed his last show with the band on June 28, 2010. In total, he performed 2,045 shows with AC/DC before his death in 2017.
Stevie Young, Malcolm's nephew, filled in during the Blow Up Your Video world tour during his uncle's absence. He performed 122 shows in 1988 as Malcolm dealt with alcohol issues. Stevie would be called upon again after Malcolm's retirement, taking over rhythm guitar duties on a permanent basis. He has totaled 211 performances as a member of AC/DC.