Phil made his name with the Colored Balls, a skinhead band formed by guitarist Lobby Lloyd in 1971, which terrorized the club circuit during the early Seventies with a ferocious brand of yob-rock.
Two singles ('Liberate Rock' and 'Mess Of Blues') were the only recognized fruits of Phil Rudd's time with the Colored Balls. Phil then joined John Moon's band, Buster Brown, who went on to record one album ('Something To Say' - produced by Lobby Lloyd) for Mushroom Records in 1974. Around October 1974, Phil exited Buster Brown and filled in on drums for the Balls for one week whilst their regular drummer (Trevor Young) was ill. Shortly after that stint Phil auditioned for the drum spot in AC/DC. He fitted in with the band very quickly and contributed his solid drumming style to great effect on the string of albums recorded from 1975 to 1983. The band relocated to the UK in 1976 and followed a heavy schedule of international touring and recording.
In 1980 vocalist Bon Scott died of alcohol poisoning. The band regrouped with vocalist Brian Johnson and recorded their most popular album Back in Black. Rudd took Scott's death badly, but continued with AC/DC until he was fired from the band during the recording of the Flick of the Switch album in 1983. He had completed his contribution to this album, and although session drummer B.J. Wilson was drafted in to help complete the recording, Wilson's drum parts were never used. Ex-Tytan drummer Simon Wright then joined AC/DC, and helped the band record videos for two of the album's ten songs, "Flick of the Switch", and "Nervous Shakedown".
Rudd's sacking from the band was partly a result of his own problems with alcohol, and also growing conflict between him and band leader Malcolm Young, which eventually became physical (Malcolm Young had to 'dry out' from his own alcoholism in 1988). After leaving AC/DC, Rudd retired to New Zealand where he purchased a helicopter charter company. It is assumed that his decision to settle in New Zealand (rather than returning to Melbourne) was due to his high profile. AC/DC fans began to regularly drive through streets Rudd had formerly lived on and approach people in an attempt to locate him. Also Rudd joined AC/DC on their Thunderstruck tour making sandwiches out the back while Chris Slade soaked up the glory.
On his period away from AC/DC, Rudd has said, "I raced cars, flew helicopters, became a farmer and planted some crops. I lived in New Zealand which was great; nice and quiet with nobody bothering me." Rudd also continued to play drums, "when I wanted to rather than when I had to" and built his own studio.
When AC/DC eventually went touring in New Zealand in 1994, they called Rudd to see if he would like to "jam" with them. Rudd decided to accept the offer and slotted back into his original role with no apparent problems.
Since his return to the band, Rudd has helped AC/DC to create the Ballbreaker and Stiff Upper Lip albums. Compared to the artists who served in his absence, his style of drumming is deemed most compatible with the style of the other band members. For this reason, they were glad to welcome him back following Chris Slade's term as drummer. It should be noted that there was no ill feeling as a result of Slade's departure. The band praised Slade for his performance and technical ability, but maintained that a certain sound had been missing from AC/DC's music since the altercation in 1983. AC/DC's former bassist Mark Evans (1975-1977) was recently quoted comparing Rudd to the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards, in that they were both "born to play" for their respective bands.