Rock Through the Ages: AC/DC


"When I'm on stage the savage in me is released. It's like going back to being a cave man. It takes me six hours to come down after a show" -Angus Young

AC/DC rock and roll band from Australia, rocking all night longAC/DC are an Australian rock band formed in Sydney in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. Although the band are commonly classified as hard rock, and considered pioneers of heavy metal, they have always classified their music as "rock and roll".

AC/DC was formed in Australia in December, 1973. Brothers Malcolm, Angus 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. It was Guitarist Malcolm Young, whom had just left his last band, Velvet Underground that formed the band. He saw first hand all the benefits that came with being a rock star, as his older brother, George Young, reach the big time as a member of the popular 1960s band, the Easybeats. He very much wanted to follow in George's footsteps. Malcolm also could see that his younger brother, Angus, was a very talented guitar player, even if he was only 15 years old, and picked him to be the new band's lead guitarist. Because Angus was still a school boy, his sister suggested that he should wear his school uniform on stage. Angus did, and in time the look would become his trademark. Malcolm and Angus Young developed the idea for the band's name after seeing the initials "AC/DC" on the back of a sewing machine owned by their older sister, Margaret Young. "AC/DC" is an abbreviation for "alternating current/direct current". The brothers felt that this name symbolized the band's raw energy, power-driven performances, and a love for their music. AC/DC would go through many personnel changes that first year, but by the time they started to play steady gigs all around Australia, the main lineup consisted of lead singer Dave Evans, Rob Bailey on bass, Peter Clark on the drums, along with the two Young brothers. In September 1974, Bon Scott replaced Dave Evans. AC/DC had recorded only one single with Evans, "Can I Sit Next to You, Girl" / "Rockin' in the Parlour" and eventually, the song was re-recorded with Bon Scott as "Can I Sit Next to You Girl". 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", which became AC/DC's perennial rock anthem

AC/DC shook me all night long. AC/DC rock-n-roll australian band from the 1970sScott's image would help shape the band as fun, wild, crazy and violent. He was publicly labeled "socially maladjusted" by the Australian government, which probably helped make the band  even more popular. At this point in time, heavy metal music was at it's height of success and AC/DC fit in great with that vein of rock music. With their attitude in general, Scott's  made for metal voice, and Angus' loud and wild guitar playing they had everything a heavy rock band needed. Their first two albums, High Voltage and TNT, would be combined into one for their first UK and America album, also titled  High Voltage, in 1976. The group at this time would also tour both countries and a big following of fans outside of Australia, soon came with that. 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.

It wasn't until 1979 with the platinum Highway to Hell that AC/DC became a presence on the American charts. It was also their first album to sell over a million copies. The album's title song also solidified their image in the US as true bad boys, as the US audience up to this point still hadn't heard many of their other, earlier songs, like "Big Balls" and "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap." On February 20, 1980, Bon Scott passed out after a night of heavy drinking in London, and was left in a car owned by an acquaintance named Alistair Kinnear. The following morning, Kinnear rushed him to King's College Hospital in Camberwell, where Scott was pronounced dead on arrival. Pulmonary aspiration of vomit was the cause of Scott's death, and the official cause was listed as "acute alcohol poisoning" and "death by misadventure"



Following Scott's death, the  AC/DC 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. The remaining AC/DC members finally decided on ex-Geordie singer Brian Johnson. With 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 became their biggest-selling album and a hard-rock landmark. Single 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 follow-up 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 AC/DC's most popular singles: "Let's Get It Up" and the title track, "For Those About to Rock" In January 1991, three fans were crushed to death at an AC/DC show in Salt Lake City, Utah. In late 1992, AC/DC paid the families of the three deceased teenagers an undisclosed sum, following an out-of-court settlement. Other parties to the settlement included the convention center, the concert's promoter and the company in charge of security. AC/DC laid low until 1995, when the Rick Rubin-produced Ballbreaker (which also marked the return of drummer Phil Rudd) entered the charts at Number Four. The bulk of the five-CD box set Bonfire, released in 1997, was made up of live tracks recorded in 1977 and 1979, as well as of a re-mastered version of Back in Black. It marked the first time AC/DC had released material featuring Bon Scott since the singer's death. In 2000, the band released their fourteenth studio album, Stiff Upper Lip, produced by brother George Young at the Warehouse Studio, again in Vancouver. The album was better received by critics than Ballbreaker, but was considered lacking in new ideas.

On 30 July 2003 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 negative publicity stemming from the effects of a 2003 SARS epidemic. The concert holds the record for the largest paid music event in North American history. AC/DC made their video game debut on Rock Band 2, with "Let There Be Rock" included as a playable.
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AC/DC
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Rock and Roll Band