Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap


Image courtesy of Riffraff.net/Reuters

Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap
| published November 6, 2014 |

By Thursday Review staff


The song was meant to be ironic, a jest, and it became one of the band’s biggest hits among a portfolio of even bigger hits in the late 1970s and early 1980s. No one ever expected the song to have real-life resonance for a band member decades later.

But life does in fact sometimes imitate art, and longtime AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd is now charged by authorities in New Zealand with attempting to hire a hit-man to conduct the murders of two people. Rudd was also charged—and there’s perhaps no surprise here—with possession of drugs, a collateral offense probably the direct result of the discovery of drugs when police raided his home in search of evidence of the murder conspiracy. [Update to this story: early on Friday, prosecutors asked that the charge of "procurement of murder" be dropped back to the slightly lesser charge of attempted murder; prosecutors say that the evidence presented by police was insufficient for the former charge.]

In New Zealand, the charge of “procurement of murder” carries a possible ten year prison sentence. The courts and the judge issued a gag order regarding further information about the charges, the names of the intended victims, or the other parties involved. Rudd—who did not enter a plea—was released on bail, but with strict limitations on where he may travel and who he may contact. He may have to return to court in as little as three weeks. Police and those close to the investigation say that law enforcement had ample evidence to charge Rudd with attempted murder, though authorities would not say what the evidence consists of.

Rudd, who was born in Australia but has lived in New Zealand for many years, is a founding member of the rock group AC/DC, known for their guitar-based hard rock and heavy metal. The band sold millions of records worldwide, and became a legend for their intense live performances. Guitarist Angus Young was the band’s front-man, known for his virtuoso guitar performances and his quirky outfit—that of a grammar school boy…jacket, skinny rep tie, dress shorts, and white shirt. Unlike other bands of the genre, such as Kiss and Black Sabbath, AC/DC used very few frills on stage, preferring the musical output to carry their live shows. As a result, some say, the band was able to reap vast profits in their heyday.

The band took a brief hiatus after the death (by drug-overdose and alcohol-induced pulmonary aspiration) of lead singer Bon Scott in February 1980. Scott was replaced by British singer Brian Johnson.

The band was formed by brothers Angus Young and Malcolm Young in 1973 and 1974. Among their biggest hits were “Highway to Hell,” “High Voltage,” “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll),” and “Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap.”

The band’s style placed them squarely among many popular hard rock groups of the day, including Thin Lizzy, Aerosmith, UFO, and Kiss. BY the middle of the 1980s, AC/DC had become one of the biggest bands of the era. By 1990, they had sold more than 70 million records in the United States alone, and their sales in Australia, New Zealand, England and Scotland continue to be substantial even to this day. The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

In recent years Rudd was also the owner of a popular restaurant in Tauranga now named Phil’s Place.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Jethro Tull Bassist Glenn Cornick Dies; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; Sept. 1, 2014.