Phil Rudd first joined the Australian band in 1975
TAURANGA, New Zealand – AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd on Thursday, July 9, avoided prison after threatening to kill an employee, but a New Zealand judge warned him jail beckoned if his "rock star lifestyle" continued.
Rudd, 61, was sentenced in Tauranga District Court to 8 months home detention after pleading guilty to the death threat and drug possession in April.
The drummer had faced a maximum 7 years behind bars for threatening to kill his ex-security chief, with prosecutors seeking an 18-month term and the defense pleading for a discharge without conviction.
Judge Thomas Ingram said Rudd's limited criminal history meant home detention was appropriate, saying he would be closely monitored and imprisoned if drugs were found in his system.
"I stone cold guarantee that's where you'll end up," Ingram said. "The temptations of the rock star lifestyle have caused your downfall here."
Motoring enthusiast Rudd arrived at court in a chauffeur-driven Bentley with a group of family and friends to support him.
Dressed in a purple velour dinner jacket and jeans, he said little to waiting media as he entered the courthouse beyond thanking fans for their "fantastic" support.
After being sentenced, he swore at a reporter outside the court and told him to "get a fucking job."
Rudd's own employment with AC/DC is in doubt, despite his stated intention to rejoin the legendary hard rockers.
The band have replaced him with Briton Chris Slade on their current "Rock or Bust" world tour and his conviction will create difficulty travelling internationally, even when his home detention is over.
'Queen replaced Freddie Mercury'
Ingram was unmoved by claims from Rudd's lawyers that a conviction would costs him tens of millions of dollars.
"I accept unreservedly that it will affect your future with the band," the judge said.
"But you need to consider that I don't think you have a future with the band until you have successfully rehabilitated."
He also rejected the argument that Rudd's drumming was an essential part of AC/DC's sound, saying, "Queen replaced Freddie Mercury, and it's clear that the band (AC/DC) is now touring without you."
Rudd was arrested in November at his waterfront mansion in the North Island coastal town of Tauranga.
He was allegedly upset about poor organization at a function to launch his solo album Head Job in August, calling an associate 4 weeks later to say he wanted the ex-employee "taken out," then phoning the man and threatening his life.
He allegedly offered the associate "NZ$200,000 ($153,000), a motorbike, one of his cars or a house."
When police raided Rudd's home, they found 0.478 grams (0.017 ounces) of methamphetamine and 91 grams (3.21 ounces) of cannabis, the documents said.
Rudd initially faced another charge of "attempting to procure murder," but it was dropped after prosecutors decided there was insufficient evidence.
Rudd first joined AC/DC in 1975 and left in 1983, only to return 11 years later.
He was part of the AC/DC line-up inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 and that won a Grammy for best hard rock performance with the band for War Machine in 2010. – Marty Melville, AFP / Rappler.com