In The Beginnning
ACDC was "born" in 1973 in Sydney, Australia. The band was
originally founded by Malcolm and Angus was the last "original"
member to join. It's said that when the 2 brothers informed
their parents that they were playing together in a band they
laughed. The boys parents told them they wouldn't last a week
because the two fought so much.
What ever they did it worked. The 2 with help and advice from
their older brother and established rocker George Young went on
to build one of the hardest rocking bands of all time. Malcolm
pounded out bone crunching rhythms and younger brother
Angus picked out brilliantly powerful leads. The duo's sound
melded into a virtual hard rock nuclear power plant.
Let There Be Rock
There is a level of disagreement by fans and critics as to the
"brand" of rock and roll that ACDC plays. The members of ACDC
have always classified their skull crushing sound as rock and
It has been said that ACDC put on one of the best rock shows
ever. I've personally never seen anybody put so much energy and
effort into a performance as Angus Young, EVER!
It could easily be argued that he was the hardest working
showman in the industry at the time and possibly since.
When you see ACDC in concert you walk away feeling like you have
experienced some kind of super human event. From the moment
Angus belts out the very first power chord the air seems to
charge with pure raw energy. As the show goes on the electricity
in the air intensifies and the crowd becomes even more bewildered by
the spectacle on stage. You truly wonder how in the hell anybody
could produce enough energy to put on such a powerful
performance continuously for such a long stretch of time. Raw
energy, quality hard core sound, endurance and pure all
out showmanship was the basic formula that equaled success for
This being said ACDC became known as a live band.
AC/DC underwent several line-up changes before releasing their
first album, High Voltage, in 1975. Membership remained stable
until bassist Cliff Williams replaced Mark Evans in 1977. In
1979, the band recorded their highly successful album Highway to
Hell. Lead singer and co-songwriter Bon Scott died on February
19, 1980, after a night of heavy alcohol consumption. The group
briefly considered disbanding, but soon ex-Geordie singer Brian
Johnson was selected as Scott's replacement. Later that year,
the band released their best selling album, Back In Black.
The band's next album, For Those About to Rock We Salute You,
was also highly successful and was their first album to reach
No. 1 in the United States. Drummer Phil Rudd in left ACDC in
1983. Record sales declined until the release of The Razors Edge
in 1990. Phil Rudd returned to the band in 1994 and contributed
to the band's 1995 album Ballbreaker. Stiff Upper Lip was
released in 2000 and was well received by critics. A new album
was announced in 2004 and is supposed to begin recording early
AC/DC has sold an estimated 150 million albums worldwide,
including 68 million albums in the US. Back in Black has sold an
estimated 42 million units worldwide and 22 million in the US
alone, making it the 5th highest-selling album ever in the USA.
AC/DC is ranked fourth on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Artists
of Hard Rock and were ranked by MTV the 7th "Greatest Heavy
Metal Band Of All Time".
Angus and Malcolm Young developed the idea for the band's name
after seeing the acronym "AC/DC" on the back of a sewing machine
owned by their sister, Margaret. "AC/DC" is an abbreviation for
"alternating current/direct current", which indicates that an
electrical device can use either type of power. The brothers
felt that this name symbolized the band's raw energy and
power-driven performances, and the name stuck.
Some religious figures have suggested that the name stands for
"Anti-Christ/Devil's Child(ren)", "Anti-Christ/Death to Christ"
and "After Christ/Devil Comes". The band members hold to their
guns about the birth of the bands name. ACDC is not the first
band to be accused of having a devilish meaning to it's name.
"AC/DC" is pronounced one letter at a time, though the band is
popularly known as "Acca Dacca" in Australia. The name has
inspired many tribute bands.
Brothers Angus, Malcolm, and George Young were born in Glasgow,
Scotland, and moved to Sydney, Australia with most of their
family in 1963. George was the first to learn to play the
guitar. He became a member of The Easybeats, Australia's most
successful band of the 1960s. In 1966, they became the first
local rock act to have an international hit, with the song
"Friday On My Mind". Malcolm followed in George's footsteps by
playing with a Newcastle, New South Wales band called The Velvet
Underground, not the same The Velvet Underground from New York.
In November 1973, Malcolm Young formed the original line-up and
recruited bassist Larry Van Kriedt, vocalist Dave Evans, and
Colin Burgess, ex-The Masters Apprentices drummer. About a week
later Malcolm announced to the band that his younger brother
Angus would also be playing guitar as a band member. The band
played their first gig at a club named Chequers in Sydney on New
Year's Eve, 1973. They were later signed to the EMI-distributed
Albert Productions label for Australia and New Zealand. The
early line-up of the band changed often; Colin Burgess was the
first member fired, and several bassists and drummers passed
through the band during the next year.
By this time, Angus Young had adopted his characteristic school
uniform stage outfit. The original uniform was reputedly from
his secondary school, Ashfield Boys High School in Sydney; the
idea was his sister Margaret's. Angus had tried other costumes,
such as Spider-Man, Zorro, a gorilla, and a parody of Superman,
named Super-Ang. In fact in its early days, most members of the
band dressed in some form of glam or satin outfit but this
approach was abandoned when it was discovered the Melbourne band
Skyhooks was already using the same "gimmick" .
Malcolm and Angus decided that Dave Evans was not the ideal
front-man for the band. On stage, Evans was occasionally
replaced by the band's first manager, Dennis Laughlin, who was
the original lead singer with Sherbet prior to Daryl Braithwaite
joining the band. Evans had interpersonal problems with
Laughlin, which also contributed to the band's ill feeling
toward Evans. Meanwhile Ronald Belford "Bon" Scott, an
experienced vocalist and friend of George Young's, was
interested in becoming their vocalist. It's said when Bon got
with the band everything clicked. They could feel something big
was going to happen.
The Bon Scott Era (1974–1980)
In September 1974, Bon Scott replaced Dave Evans. The band had
recorded only one single with Evans, "Can I Sit Next to You" / "Rockin'
in the Parlour". "Can I Sit Next to You" was eventually
rrecorded againwith Bon Scott under the title "Can I Sit Next to
By January 1975, the Australia-only album High Voltage had been
recorded. It took only ten days and was based on instrumental
songs written by the Young brothers, with lyrics added by Scott.
Within a few months, the band's line-up had stabilized,
featuring Scott, the Young brothers, bassist Mark Evans and
drummer Phil Rudd. Later that year they released the single
"It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)". It
was included on their second album, T.N.T., which was also
released only in Australia and New Zealand. The album featured
the classic song, "High Voltage".
Between 1974 and 1977, aided by regular appearances on Molly
Meldrum's Countdown, a nationally broadcast pop music television
show, AC/DC became one of the most popular and successful acts
in Australia. Their performance on 3 April 1977 was their last
live TV appearance for over twenty years.
International Success (1976–1978)
In 1976, the band signed an international deal with Atlantic
Records, and toured extensively throughout Europe. They gained
invaluable experience of the stadium circuit, supporting leading
hard rock acts such as Aerosmith, Kiss , Styx and Blue Öyster
Cult. ACDC also co-headlined with Cheap Trick.
The first AC/DC album to gain worldwide distribution was a 1976
compilation of tracks taken from the High Voltage and T.N.T.
LPs. Also titled High Voltage, and released on the Atlantic
Records label, the album sold three million copies worldwide.
The track selection was heavily weighted toward T.N.T.,
and included only two songs from their first LP. The band's next
album, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, was released in the same
year in both Australian-only and international versions, like
its predecessor. Track listings varied worldwide, and the
international version of the album also featured "Rocker" from
T.N.T. The original Australian version included "Jailbreak" (now
more readily available on the 1984 compilation EP '74 Jailbreak
or as a live version on the 1992 Live album). Dirty Deeds was
not released in the US until 1981, by which time the band were
at the peak of their popularity.
Following the 1977 recording Let There Be Rock, bassist Mark
Evans was sacked due to personal differences with Angus Young.
He was replaced by Cliff Williams, who also provided backing
vocals alongside Malcolm Young. Neither of the Young brothers
has elaborated on the departure of Evans, though Richard
Griffiths, the CEO of Epic Records and a booking agent for AC/DC
in the mid-1970s, later commented, "You knew Mark wasn't going
to last, he was just too much of a nice guy."
US Success (1977–1979)
AC/DC's first American exposure was through the Michigan radio
station AM 600 WTAC in 1977. The station's manager, Peter C.
Cavanaugh, booked the band to play at Flint's Capitol Theater.
The supporting act was MC5, who had briefly reunited and agreed
to play at the event. The band opened with their popular song
"Live Wire" and closed with "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You
Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)".
AC/DC came to be identified with the punk rock movement by the
British press. Their reputation, however, managed to survive the
punk upheavals of the late 1970s, and they maintained a cult
following in the UK throughout this time. Angus Young became
known as the star that moons his audience.
The 1978 release of Powerage marked the debut of bassist Cliff
Williams, and with its heavier riffs, followed the blueprint set
by Let There Be Rock. Only one single was released from Powerage,
"Rock 'n' Roll Damnation" which gave AC/DC the highest mark at
the time, reaching #24. An appearance at the Apollo Theatre in
Glasgow during the Powerage tour was recorded and released as If
You Want Blood You've Got It, featuring such songs as "Whole
Lotta Rosie", "Problem Child", and "Let There Be Rock", as well
as lesser-known album tracks like "Riff Raff". The album was the
last produced by Harry Vanda and George Young with Bon Scott
performing vocals. The song, "If You Want Blood (You Got It)"
did not appear on this album which many tend to believe. It did
appear on the next album, "Highway To Hell". If the song was
written for the name, it rocked as did the entire album.
The band's sixth album, Highway to Hell, was produced by Robert
Lange and released in 1979. It became the first AC/DC LP to
break into the US top 100, eventually reaching #17,and it
propelled AC/DC into the top ranks of hard rock acts. Highway to
Hell put increased emphasis on backing vocals but still featured
AC/DC's signature sound: loud, simple, pounding riffs and
grooving backbeats. The final track, "Night Prowler", has two
breaths in quick succession at the start of the song, intended
to create a tone of fear and loathing.
Bon Scott's Death (1980)
"Night Prowler" contained all the new elements of Highway to
Hell. The song finishes with Bon Scott saying "Shazbot, Nanu
Nanu!". Strangely Bon Scott's last words on his last album were
Shazbot, Nanu Nanu. This was an expression used by character
Mork, played by Robbin Williams on the popular TV show Mork And
Mindy. Shazbot, Nanu Nanu meant good bye.
On February 19, 1980, Bon Scott reportedly passed out after a
night of heavy drinking in London. He was left in a car owned by
an acquaintance of his named Alistair Kinnear. The following
morning, Kinnear rushed him to King's College Hospital in
Camberwell, where Scott was pronounced dead on arrival. Although
common folklore claims that pulmonary aspiration of vomit was
the cause of Scott's death, the official cause was listed as
"acute alcohol poisoning" and "death by misadventure". Scott's
family buried him in Fremantle, Western Australia, the area to
which they had emigrated when he was a child Inconsistencies in
the official accounts of Scott's death have been cited in
conspiracy theories, which suggest that Scott died of a heroin
overdose, or was killed by exhaust fumes redirected into the
car, or that Kinnear did not exist. Additionally, Scott was
asthmatic, and the temperature was below freezing on the morning
of his death.
Finding A New Singer
Following Scott's death, the band briefly considered quitting;
they eventually concluded, however, that Scott would have wanted
AC/DC to continue, and various candidates were considered for
his replacement including Buzz Shearman, ex-Moxy member, who was
not able to join due to vocal problems, and ex-Back Street
Crawler vocalist Terry Slesser, who decided not to join an
established band. The remaining AC/DC members finally decided on
ex-Geordie singer Brian Johnson.
Angus Young later recalled, "I remember Bon playing me Little
Richard, and then telling me the story of when he saw Brian
singing." He says about that night, "There's this guy up there
screaming at the top of his lungs and then the next thing you
know he hits the deck. He's on the floor, rolling around and
screaming. I thought it was great, and then to top it off—you
couldn't get a better encore—they came in and wheeled the guy
off!'" Later that night, Johnson would be diagnosed with
appendicitis, which was the cause of his writhing around on
For the audition, Johnson sang "Whole Lotta Rosie" from Let
There Be Rock, and Ike & Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits". He
was hired a few days after the audition.
Brian Johnson Era (1980–present)
With Brian Johnson the band completed the songwriting that they
had begun with Bon Scott for the album Back in Black. Recording
took place at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas a few months
after Scott's death. Back in Black, produced by Mutt Lange and
recorded by Tony Platt, became their biggest-selling album and a
hard-rock landmark; hits include "Hells Bells", "You Shook Me
All Night Long", and the title track "Back in Black". The album
was certified platinum a year after its release, and by 2006 it
had sold more than 22 million copies in the United States. The
album reached #1 in the UK and #4 in the US, where it spent 131
weeks in the top ten.
The following album, 1981's For Those About to Rock We Salute
You, also sold well and was positively received by critics. The
album featured two of the band's most popular singles: "Let's
Get It Up" and the title track, "For Those About to Rock", which
reached #13 and #15 in the UK. The band split with Lange for
their self-produced 1983 album, Flick of the Switch, in an
effort to recover the rawness and simplicity of their early
Departure of Rudd and commercial decline (1983-1987)
Amid rumors of alcoholism and drug-induced paranoia, drummer
Phil Rudd's friendship with Malcolm Young deteriorated and,
after a long period of unfriendliness, the men's dislike for
each other grew so strong that they fought. Rudd was fired two
hours after the fight. Although Rudd had finished most of the
drum tracks for their next album, he was replaced by Simon
Wright after the band held an anonymous audition.
With the new line-up, the band released a less successful album,
the self-produced Flick of the Switch. Flick of the Switch
eventually reached #4 on the UK charts, and AC/DC had minor
success with the singles "Nervous Shakedown" and "Flick of the
Switch". I personally feel this album was under rated. Some said
it sounded like their old stuff. Now days the old stuff is gold
and I wouldn't overlook adding "Flick of the Switch" to your
collection, you can get a good price on it too.
"Fly on the Wall" was produced by the Young brothers in 1985. A
music concept video of the same name featured the band at a bar,
playing five of the album's ten songs. It wasn't considered one
of the bands greatest accomplishments but still offered a couple
songs that have become classics.
In 1986, the group returned to the charts with "Who Made Who".
The album Who Made Who was the soundtrack to Stephen King's film
Maximum Overdrive, and is the closest the band has come to
releasing a "greatest hits" collection. It brought together
older hits, such as "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "Ride On",
with newer songs such as title track "Who Made Who", and two new
instrumentals, "D.T." and "Chase the Ace". They offered a nice
spicy flavoring to some older songs.
In February 1988 AC/DC was inducted into the Australian
Recording Industry Association's Hall of Fame.
Renewed Popularity (1988–1997)
AC/DC's 1988 album, Blow up Your Video, was recorded at Miraval
Studio in Le Val, France, and reunited the band with their
original producers, Harry Vanda and George Young. Blow up Your
Video sold more copies than the previous two studio releases
combined, and reached #2 on the UK charts—AC/DC's highest
position since Back In Black in 1980. The album featured the UK
top-twenty single "Heatseeker", and popular songs such as
"That's the Way I Wanna Rock and Roll". The Blow Up Your Video
World Tour began in February 1988, in Perth, Australia. That
April, following live appearances across Europe, Malcolm Young
announced that he was taking time off from touring, principally
to begin recovery from his alcohol addiction. Another member of
the Young family, Stevie Young, temporarily took Malcolm's
Following the tour, Wright left the group to work on the
upcoming Dio album Lock up the Wolves, and was replaced by
session veteran Chris Slade. Johnson was unavailable for several
months while finalising his divorce, so the Young brothers wrote
all the songs for the next album, a practice they have continued
for all subsequent releases. The next album, "The Razors Edge",
was produced by Bruce Fairbairn, who had previously worked with
Aerosmith and Bon Jovi. Released in 1990, it was a major
comeback for the band, and included the hits "Thunderstruck" and
"Are You Ready", which reached #5 and #16 respectively on
Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart, and "Moneytalks",
which peaked at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album went
multi-platinum and reached the US top ten. Several shows on the
Razors Edge tour were recorded as footage for the 1992 live
album, entitled Live. Live was produced by Fairbairn, and is
considered one of the best live albums of the 1990s. A year
later, AC/DC recorded "Big Gun" for the soundtrack of the Arnold
Schwarzenegger movie Last Action Hero, and was released as a
single, reaching #1 on the US Mainstream Rock chart, the band's
first #1 single on that chart.
In 1994, Angus and Malcolm invited Rudd to several jam sessions.
He was eventually rehired to replace Slade, whose amicable
departure arose in part due to the band's strong desire to again
work with Rudd. In 1995, with the 1980—83 line-up back together,
the group released Ballbreaker, recorded at the Ocean Way
Studios in Los Angeles, California, and produced by Rick Rubin.
The first single from the album was "Hard as a Rock". Two more
singles were released from the album: "Hail Caesar" and "Cover
You in Oil".
In 1997, a box set named Bonfire was released. It contained four
albums; a remastered version of Back in Black; Volts (a disc
with alternate takes, outtakes, and stray live cuts) and two
live albums, Live from the Atlantic Studios and Let There Be
Rock: The Movie. Live from the Atlantic Studios was recorded in
1978 at the Atlantic Studios in New York. Let There Be Rock: The
Movie was a double album recorded in 1979 at The Pavillon in
Paris, and was the soundtrack of a motion picture, AC/DC: Let
There Be Rock. The US version of the box set included a color
booklet, a two-sided poster, a sticker, a temporary tattoo, a
key chain bottle opener, and a guitar pick.
Recent events (2000–present)
In 2000, the band released their sixteenth studio album, "Stiff
Upper Lip", produced by George Young. The album was better
received by critics than Ballbreaker, but was considered lacking
in new ideas. The Australian release included a bonus disc with
three promotional videos and several live performances recorded
in Madrid in 1996. Stiff Upper Lip reached #1 in five countries,
including Argentina and Germany; #2 in three countries, Spain,
France and Switzerland; #3 in Australia; #5 in Canada and
Portugal; and #7 in Norway, the US and Hungary. The first
single, "Stiff Upper Lip", remained at #1 on the US Mainstream
Rock charts for four weeks. The other singles released also did
very well; "Safe in New York City" and "Satellite Blues" reached
#31 and #7 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks, respectively.
In 2002, AC/DC signed a long-term, multi-album deal with Sony
Music, who went on to release a series of remastered albums as
part of their AC/DC remasters series. Each release contained an
expanded booklet, featuring rare photographs, memorabilia, and
notes. In 2003, the entire back-catalogue (except Ballbreaker
and Stiff Upper Lip) was remastered and re-released. Ballbreaker
was eventually re-released in October 2005; Stiff Upper Lip was
later rereleased in April 2007.
In May 2003, Malcolm Young accepted a Ted Albert Award for
Outstanding Service to Australian Music at the 2003 Music
Winners Awards, during which he paid special tribute to Bon
Scott. In the same year, the Recording Industry Association of
America upgraded the group's US sales figures from 46.5 million
to 63 million, making AC/DC the fifth-best-selling band in US
history, behind only The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and
the Eagles. The RIAA also certified the Back in Black album as
double diamond (twenty million) in US sales, making it the
sixth-best-selling US album of all time; by 2005 the album had
sold 22 million copies, which moved it into fifth place. On July
30 the band performed with The Rolling Stones and Rush at Molson
Canadian Rocks for Toronto. The concert, held before an audience
of half a million, was intended to help the city overcome the
effects of the 2003 Severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic.
The concert holds the record for the largest paid music event in
North American history.
On October 1, 2004, a central Melbourne thoroughfare,
Corporation Lane, was renamed in honour of the band. However,
the City of Melbourne forbade the use of the slash character in
street names, so the four letters were combined. The lane is
near Swanston Street where, on the back of a truck, the band
recorded their video for the 1975 hit "It's a Long Way to the
Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)". Additionally, a street in
Leganés, Spain was named "Calle de AC/DC" on March 2, 2000. The
band came second in a list of Australia's highest earning
entertainers for 2005, and sixth for 2006, despite having
neither toured since 2003 nor released an album since 2000.
Verizon Wireless has gained the rights to release AC/DC's full
albums and the entire Live at Donington concert to download in
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
AC/DC were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March
2003. During the ceremony the band performed "Highway to Hell"
and "You Shook Me All Night Long", with guest vocals provided by
host Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. He described the band's power
chords as "the thunder from down under that gives you the
second-most-powerful surge that can flow through your body."
During the acceptance speech, Brian Johnson quoted their 1977
song "Let There Be Rock":
"In the beginning, back in 1955, man didn't know about the rock
'n roll show and all that jive.
The white man had the schmaltz, the black man had the blues, but
no one knew what they was gonna do but Tchaikovsky had the news,
he said: 'let there be rock".
Bon Scott wrote that. And it's a real privilege to accept these