AC/DC say drummer's murder plot arrest won't stop tour

This picture taken on Nov 6, 2014 and provided by The New Zealand Herald shows the drummer with legendary rock band AC/DC, Phil Rudd, leaving the court house in Tauranga, New Zealand. -- PHOTO: AFP
This picture taken on Nov 6, 2014 and provided by The New Zealand Herald shows the drummer with legendary rock band AC/DC, Phil Rudd, leaving the court house in Tauranga, New Zealand. -- PHOTO: AFP

WELLINGTON (AFP) - Rock band AC/DC expressed surprise on Friday at drummer Phil Rudd's arrest over an alleged murder plot but said it would not affect their plans for a new album or world tour.

Rudd was arrested in New Zealand on Thursday and accused of trying to hire a hitman to carry out a double murder, threatening to kill and various drug offences.

A brief statement on the legendary Australian band's official website said they had no prior knowledge of the stunning allegations against Rudd.

"We've only become aware of Phil's arrest as the news was breaking. We have no further comment," it said.

"Phil's absence will not affect the release of our new album Rock or Bust and upcoming tour next year." Police swooped on 60-year-old Rudd's luxury waterfront house at Tauranga on New Zealand's North Island in the early hours of Thursday and charged him with "attempting to procure murder" and threatening to kill.

Court documents reveal he is accused of trying to organise a hitman to murder two men in late September.

Under New Zealand law, attempting "to procure any person to murder any other person" is punishable by up to 10 years in jail, while threatening to kill can attract a seven-year sentence.

AC/DC, which has become one of the best selling music acts of all time since it formed in Australia in the 1970s, will release "Rock or Bust" shortly and back the album with a global tour next year.

The Grammy award-winning band, which was inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, announced in September that founding member Malcolm Young was retiring because he had dementia and was receiving treatment at a Sydney care facility.