Original AC/DC drummer Colin Burgess, who played with the Australian rock legends for just four months in the 1970s and appeared on their first single, has died at the age of 77. AC/DC made the announcement on Instagram, although they did not reveal the date or cause of Burgess’ passing. “He was our first drummer and a very respected musician. Happy memories, rock in peace Colin,” they wrote.
Burgess drummed for well-known Australian rock outfit the Masters Apprentices until 1972, but their split freed him up to join siblings Angus and Malcom Young in the nascent AC/DC, which was at the time fronted by singer Dale Evans. He was reportedly fired from the group in February 1974 due to performing while intoxicated but his playing was immortalized on their debut single, “Can I Sit Next to You, Girl,” which climbed to No. 50 on the Australian charts.
Burgess was ultimately replaced on drums by Phil Rudd, but briefly returned for a handful of gigs in 1975 when the latter was nursing a hand injury sustained in a fight. “Can I Sit Next to You, Girl?” was re-recorded for AC/DC’s 1975 album T.N.T., with Burgess’ parts played by Rudd and Evans’ duties filled by new singer Bon Scott. In something of a macabre anecdote, Burgess was one of the last people to speak with Scott prior to his accidental death in February 1980.
After AC/DC, Burgess played with the bands His Majesty, Good Time Charlie and Dead Singer Band, which, as its name might imply, performed music by deceased Australian vocalists. For his work with the Masters Apprentices, he was inducted into Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame in 1998.