What Cliff Williams Thinks About His Low-Profile Role In AC/DC

Cliff Williams decided to pursue a music career at a young age. When he was 13, Williams formed a band with his friends. At that time, he learned to play bass by listening to records and picking notes. Williams left school at 16 and worked as a musician by night. He then moved to London in 1966 and started to play in several bands, such as Home, a supporting act for Mott The Hoople, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, and the Faces.

After recording two albums with Home, Williams was engaged in several projects with other bands and formed the band Bandit in 1974. However, Bandit disbanded three years later. Williams considered retiring from music but decided to audition for AC/DC as they were looking for a bassist to replace Mark Evans. After the audition, the bassist joined AC/DC on May 27, 1977, partially due to his charming looks, which the band thought would attract female fans to the shows.

Williams’ studio debut with AC/DC was 1978’s ‘Powerage’ album. He then continued to play bass with the band until he suffered a kidney infection in 1991. After this temporary departure, the bassist remained in AC/DC until July 7, 2016. As he mainly stayed in the background during his tenure in the band, Williams maintained a low-profile role. In a 1996 interview, the bassist revealed whether this was an issue for him.

Cliff Williams’ Thoughts On Having A Low-Profile Within AC/DC

Throughout his career with AC/DC, Williams also contributed with backing vocals apart from playing the bass. His primary role was to provide simple but steady basslines after Malcolm Young’s rhythm guitar. The Young brothers sometimes wrote his basslines, but Williams also developed them based on other instrumental tracks in a song.

Thus, Williams’ contributions stayed behind the works of the Young brothers. The bassist was pretty willing to comply with anything he was given and had no issues playing simple rather than complex parts. Speaking about keeping such a low profile in the band, Cliff Williams revealed whether he was okay with this in a 1996 interview with Hard Rock Magazine.

According to the bassist, the Young brothers would come to the studio with cassettes and riffs, and the band would listen to each of them. After that, they would decide what they wanted, and the band would follow that path. Williams stated that Angus and Malcolm Young generally had an idea about what he should play, but he also wrote some lines based on the other instruments. Moreover, the bassist argued he had no issue with this because he enjoyed playing his bass simply.

Here is what Cliff Williams told Hard Rock Magazine about his role in AC/DC:

“They [Angus and Malcolm Young] come to the studios with lots of cassettes and many riffs, and we listen to [them] one by one. Most of the time, they know exactly what they want to have finally, and we do everything to go that way.

About my bass parts: they usually have an idea of what they want me to do. Or they already have written a bass line that I try to play my best. Or I write this line based on what is done; drums, guitars. I give them what they want. I don’t have any problem doing this, because I enjoy playing simply. I never feel angry or prisoner.”

So, it appears like Cliff Williams was okay with letting the Young brothers decide what he should play. Although this might have caused disputes in most bands, Williams never felt angry at his bandmates because he liked playing simply.