The tragic history of AC/DC

Anyone who know something about music know AC/DC.

Whether they want to admit it or not, they’re behind some of the most biggest Rock Anthem in the world.

Songs that brought entire stadium to their feets.

 history-acdc

Malcom and Angus Young have been the backbone of AC/DC since the beginning and it’s not surprising. Their musics speaks to the everyone in a completly honnest way.

That’s because their own life hasn’t been smoth sailing and they’ve been on the very difficult journey.

What's the history behind the history of AC/DC ? What are the difficulties and the tragedies that the Australian hard rock band had to went through ? How did everything began ? 

You will have answers to all these questions after reading this article.

Are you ready to rock? Here we go !

The begining of the journey of Malcom Young and Augus Young

1963 this is the year is all started.

It’s in 1963 that Malcom and Augus Young unemployment father moved his family from their native Scotland to Australia 🇦🇺

Ten years old Malcom and eight year old Augus were a pair of immigrants kids looking to fit in.

The youngest of eight children, Augus and Malcom remembered a childhood with little money but a wealth of music 🎶

Malcom and Angus knew well about Rock n’Roll. Especially when their older brother George Young formed his own band.

His band the Easybeats became quite popular at the time.

In the spring of 1967 The Easybeats have started to make a place for themselves on the American scene 🇺🇸

Their single « Friday on my mind » went to n°16 in the US single charts.

Angus and Malcom were inspired as their brother rise in the rock scene.

Eager to follow their brother’s footsteps Malcom and Augus decided to quit school and joined separate bands.

But in 1973, Malcom Young who was 20 years old at that time suggest to his younger brother Angus who was 18, to join forces and to form their own band.

When big brother George came home from a concert tour, he was impressed by what he heard 😲

The music that Augus and Malcom were doing, made him realise the increadible potential of his cadets.

Augus and Malcom’s band needed a name to match their powerfull music 🎵

Their sister Magaret Young got a sewing machine, that what trigered a flash of inspiration. AC/DC was actually the abreviation for « alternative current/ direct current » electricity.

Malcom Young : « Her sewing machine got AC/DC written on the back of it »

To the Young brothers, AC/DC implied power and energy ⚡

Fun fact, one day a local camp driver let them know that AC/DC had a alternate meaning. Indeed sexually AC/DC stand for a bisexual orientation.

However the brothers decided to keep that name.

Another funny story is about the meaning behind Augus Young habits to wear school uniform while performing on stage.

When he came back from school Augus was playing guitar 🎸 without changing himself and played all night wearing his school uniform.

augus-young-AC-DC

His sister Margaret Young suggest him to continue to wear his school uniform while playing because this image of crazy guitarist schoolboy fits him very well.

In 1974, George Young and his fellow Easybeats band member Harry Vanda, would producing records for a small Australian label 🇦🇺

They decided to record AC/DC.

AC/DC first single was realeased in july 1974 : « Can I sit next to you girl »

The record was original played to a small local tour but the brothers Young weren’t happy with their lead singer Dave Evans.

Macolm and Augus were lookin for a new frontman when in the summer of 1974, they found Bon Scott.

The Bon Scott’s era

Like the Young brothers, Bon Scott was another Scottish imigrant raised in Australia 🇦🇺

Malcom Young : « When we met him for the first time, it was like we knew him forever ».

Bon was a head strong wild child, determined to be a rockstar 🤘

Bon Scott dreamed of fame but found trouble instead.

By 1974 he had already served jail time for assaulting a cop and had recently survived a motorcycle crash 🏍️

Bon Scott had already sang for local bands like « The Valentines » and « Fraternity ».

To Malcom and Augus, Bon looked and sounded like a perfect fit for AC/DC.

Augus Young : « We knew Bon could sing Rock n’Roll »

Malcom Young : « We just said : do you want to join ? »

Augus and Malcom had no doubt about hiring Bon Scott to front AC/DC.

Malcom Young : « Two week later we showed up and said : George we’ve got a new singer »

Big brother George felt his little brothers has lost their minds.

But he soon found out that Bon Scott was a perfect fit for AC/DC.

His first appearence with the band set immediatly the tone.

Augus Young : « He’s got the drugs and everything coming in and I said : We’re lucky if he can walk . »

Bon Scott behavior might been schoking but his performance was electric. AC/DC had found their voice 🎤

High Voltage

 They went to the studio to record their debut album and in January 1975 the band took « High Voltage » ⚡ across the Australian club circuit.

The album found his sucess in Sydney and for a good reason « High Voltage » was an increadible album !

AC/DC just made their first mark in the Rock n’Roll scene.

Having conquered Sydney music scene, AC/DC relocated to Melbourne and reorganize the group’s line-up.

Bon Scott’s voice had raised the band to another level but their was room for improvement.

In early 1975, drummer Phil Rudd 🥁 had joined the band. In spring 1975, AC/DC realeased « Baby please don’t go » that became their first nationwide hit.

In April of the same year, the band made a notorious apearence on the Australian television as Bon gave new meaning to the phrase : « Dress for sucess »

This television apearance had increase the power of AC/DC’s rock reputation and by the summer of 1975 they had a gold record and a growing fan base in Australia.

The Australian youth are adoring this band.

AC/DC's second album :TNT

TNT has nine tracks on it. The line-up of the band during the recording of this album is : Bon Scott as the lead vocalist 🎤 , Augus Young as the lead guitarist , Malcom Young as the rythm guitarist 🎸 , Mark Evans as the bassist and Phill Red as the drummer 🥁

This album strike like dynamite 💥

TNT is great album and classic album of the band.

acdc-augus-young-acdc-concert

But as AC/DC second album went to number 2 in Australia, the band had no intention of remaining local heroes.

In early 1976, they made a deal with Atlantic records to release their musics internationally.

DIRTY DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP

Dirty deeds done dirt cheap, the third album of our favorite Australian hard rock band came out shortly after TNT.

This album was released in 1976 in Europe and Australia but didn’t came out in the US until 1981.

The name of the album is a reference to the cartoon Beany and Cecil that Augus Yound used to watch when he was a child.

One of the character was named Dishonest John and he carried a business card with the follwing sentence written on it : « Dirty deeds done dirt cheap. Special rates for Sunday and hollidays. »

The title track of the album Dirty deeds done dirt cheap  is one of the most famous track of AC/DC and D4C remains a classic album of the band.

Dirty deeds done dirt cheap is one of the best album of AC/DC if not the best.

In the spring of 1977, AC/DC boarded for London, looking to conquer the world.

Their fast and furious style was a hit . AC/DC was soon across the country to rock the rest of Great Britain 🇬🇧

Their were known as the rude and loudy band from Australia.

On stage AC/DC did everything they could to shok 😲

Off stage they got serious about their music, working with Augus and Malcom’s older brother George Young who produced their next album « Let their be rock »

Released in the summer of 1977, « Let their be rock » blasted on to the US charts.

AC/DC were on the verge of becomming an international hard rock phenomenon.

Highway to Hell

In january of 1979, AC/DC began to work on an album called « Highway to Hell ». A title the record compagny hated from the start.

Malcom Young « They freaked with that title. They didn’t want that title »

When « Highway to Hell » hit records came out that summer, it’s title spreak rumors that the wilmans of AC/DC were devil worshippers.

But for AC/DC Highway to Hell was a tribute to the hard life of a touring rock n’roll band.

After six hard years on the road and in the studio, AC/DC increadible determination was finally paying off.

Highway to Hell raised up the billboard charts and hit the top 20 as the 70’s came to a close.

After seven years and thousands of gigs, from the pubs of Australia to the stadium of the world. AC/DC wrote Highway to Hell an international sucess in the summer of 1979.

As the year 79 was closing, the decade to come promised more gold records and good fortune.

acdc-concert

But the band exhausting work load and deeply intense appetite for drugs and alcohol were taking them to a dangerous path.

Bon Scott : « We’ve been working non stop since the band started »

Under pressured record of Highway to Hell, AC/DC returned to London in January of 1980.

As the 1980’s began, AC/DC looked forward to future further rock n’roll glory.

But the new decade was doom to began not with distinction but with sudden schoking death.

Malcom and Augus Young invited Bon to the studio, eager to play him the new music for their next album.

 

Unfortunatly, Bon Scott will never put lyrics on the music Malcom and Augus has written. The night of the 19th February 1980, Bon Scott went out drinking with a friend.

On that cold night Bon Scott was only 33 years old.

After a night of heavy drinking, Bon ended the evening alone. He passed out in a car, outside his friend’s house.

In the morning, he was found dead.

During the night, Bon had apparently vomided in his sleep and chok to death. Angus Young was the first band members to get the sad news.

Within an hour, everyone in the band knew the awfull truth. The media were already flashing the news of Bon’s death.

Malcom took on upon himself to notifie Bon’s family in Australia before the news got to them first.

Malcom Young : « Someone had to tell them. It better come of from one of the band than from a newspaper »

The band pulled together and refused all interviews, while Bon’s death was everywhere in the press.

The work on AC/DC’s nex album was suspended and Malcom and Augus flew home to Australia to lend support to Bon Scott’s parents and mourn the loss of a men that had become brother to them.

Without Bon Scott, the surviving band members believed that AC/DC was dead.

But Bon’s parents encourage them to keep the band alive, because Bon would have wanted it that way.

Finding a lead singer to replace Bon Scott was daunting task. Bon’s powerhouse voice and showmanship had been central to AC/DC’s sucess.

Their search led them to Brian Johnson.

Brian’s audition for the band was filled with mix emotion about replacing a friend they had burried only a mouth earlier.

AC/DC hired Brian Johnson in April 1980 and got down to the task of making  their first album without Bon Scott.

The Brian Johons’s era and the realease of Back in Black

The music of the album, it’s title and it’s cover were all dedicated to Bon’s memorie.

Phil Rudd : « We were determined to make a good album »

During the emotionnal session for « Back in Black » Brian Johnson steped up to the microphone and enter Bon Scott’s schoes.

Brian Johnson : « Back in Black was written about Bon and for Bon »

brian-johnson-acdc

As Brian and the band prepared the upcoming Back in Black tour, there was appehension about how the new lead singer would be accepted by the fans.

The fans was still with AC/DC and now there will be millions more of them.

Released in the summer of 1980, Back in Black sold 16 millions copies to become one of the 10 best sellings albums in Rock n’Roll history.

To come-back that strong with a new vocalist, is a absolutly remarkable thing to accomplish.

AC/DC ‘s musical memorial to Bon Scott hit the top 5 in three continents. The album phaenomenal sucess proved an imposible act to follow.

 

Brian Johnson : « After Back in Black was so huge, the world was waiting for this follow up and i just think you can’t do it »

 

For those about to rock we salute you

 

That’s when we talk about « For those about to rock we salute you » AC/DC has a lot of pressure for making this album.

After the huge sucess and phaenomenon of Back in Black, creating an album which will be able to meet the expectations of the public was a great challenge.

Here is my personnal opinion about this album .

I found « For those about to rock we salute you » great but not in the same league that « Back in Black » or « Highway to Hell » but it’s still definitly a great album.

The line-up on this album has Brian Johnson on vocals, Augus Young as the lead guitarist, Malcim Young as the Rhythm guitar, Cliff Williams as the bassist and Phil Rudd at the drums.

The album was recorded in a studio in Paris. My personnal favorite song on this album is « Put the finger on you »

Overall « For those about to rock » remains a great success and a well appreciated albums with over 4 millions sells in the US.

For those about to rock is still at this day the greatest sucess of AC/DC in the US.

Flick on the swith

The next album of AC/DC  Filck on the switch is propably one of the most unpopular one among the AC/DC’s fan base.

Flick on the switch came out in 1983. The release of this album represents the beginning of AC/DC commercial decline.

The Flick on the switch cover is personnaly one of my favorite album cover of AC/DC, simple and iconic at the same time.

The production of this album is very good, like all the others album.

 Malcom and Augus Young made an increadible work and Brian Johnson also made a great work with his vocals performance.

After the release of the album some tension were revealed within the group. There was a confrontation between Phil Rudd and Malcom Young which ended by the expulsion of Phill Rudd from AC/DC.

Simon Wright became the new drummer of the band during the summer of 1983.

Fly on the wall

Following up the release of the album « Fly on the Wall » in the summer of 1985.

This album is probably one of the most unpopular album of the Australian Hard Rock band.

The critics of Fly on the wall were very harsh and it was felt on sales which are much less significant than « For those about to rock » wihtout even speaking of Back in Black.

But the bad luck of AC/DC through out the 80’s is far from over. The Fly on the Wall tour got bad publicity due to a series of filthy murder.

What does it have to do with AC/DC ?

Let me explain, in the spring of 1985 AC/DC became linked in the investigation of a murder case in California.

One of the piece of evidence left at the scene of the crime was a AC/DC hat.

In attempt to track down the serial killer known as « The night stalker » homicide detective Gil Carillo released a picture of the hat to the press.

While law enforcement press their menhunt to catch the mystery men guilty of 13 Brutal murders and other filthy act, the press build up the serial killer link to AC/DC.

The press put a lot more the significiance of the hat, than the homicide investigators.

On August 31th of 1985 the Night Stalker was finally arrested. The press reported that the serial killer was inspired by AC/DC.

The media frenesy surrounding the « Night Walker » case horified the band.

As the press played the satanic angle 👿, it was suggested that AC/DC’s name stood for « Anti-Christ, Devil’s child »

The attack on AC/DC continued trough the mid 80s but the band ignored their critics and focused on making musics.

During the year 1988, Malcom Yound decided to stop his musical career to resolve his issue with alcohol.

 The Young brothers recruted their nephew Stevie Young to replace Malcom, while he was fighting his alcohol addiction.

He missed the majority of AC/DC Blow up your video Wold tour. However Malcom became sober and returned in the band.

 

Ballbreaker

The album Ballbreaker is marked by the return of Phill Rudd, former drumer who has played for AC/DC from 1975 to 1983.

The album is a sucess ( not as much as Back in Black but still). Ballbreaker is a great AC/DC Ballbreaker in my opinion ( not the best byt definitly a great one).

Ballbreaker is a must have for all AC/DC fan !

The 90’s was a great decade for the band, after the very hard decade they had just lived.

In 1999, the bigger brother of Augus and Malcom, George Young produced the fourtheenth studio album of AC/DC « Stiff Uper Lip »

The album was released in early 2000 and was well received by the critics, we cal still blame it for a lack of innovation and risk-taking.

2003 was also a good year for our favorite Australian hard rock band. Indeed AC/DC was inducted into the « Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ».

Black Ice

The fifteenth studio album of AC/DC « Black Ice ». This album was released in the 20th October of the year 2008.

Black Ice is a very good Rock n’Roll album as expected from AC/DC. Not my personnal favorite but I enjoyed listening to it.

 This album was a real commercial sucess with not less than 6 millions sales through the entire world !

 The album had been certified multi-platinium in multiple countries.

Blac Ice was follewed by the Black Ice 18 month world tour.

 

The Australian Hard rock line-up changes and Rock or Burst

Rock or Burst 

Unfortunatly this album is marked by the lack of the founding members Malcom Young on the guitar.

He wasn’t able to play anymore because of demencia, he was having trouble remembering his parts.

Like usual Rock or Burst is a solid Hard Rock album. I personnaly don’t fin dit particulary good but it’s an AC/DC album and it implies that you’re going to find what you’re looking for.

The lyricall aspect of the album is about Rock n’Roll women, sex and everything surrounding the Rockstars lifestyle.

Guitar centred music has always been the heart of AC/DC and Augus Young did an amazing job on that one.

The title track « Rock or Burst » is one of my favorite track of the album.

Rock and Burst was a commercial success and AC/DC has proven once again that they’re still standing at the top of the Rock n’Roll scene even after more than 40 years of career.

The album has hit n°1 on the charts of many Europeans country including Australia, their hometown.

The Rock and Burst World tour which took place during the year 2015-2016 has been marked by few changes in the line-up.

The drummer Phil Rudd was unable to go on tour due to legal problems, he was replaced by Chris Slade.

The lead vocalist Brian Johson was also unable to perform during the whole tour due to a hearing loss.

He was replaced by Axl Rose the original lead singer of Gun’Roses who assumed this rôle for the rest of the tour.

After the tour, the bassist of the band Cliff Williams left AC/DC and retired from music.

In 2017 AC/DC has been again struck by a tragedy. Malcom Young, the rock n’roll legend and the co-founder of the iconic band passed away due to his disease.

The Rock n’Roll and Heavy Metal mourn his death and a lot of the big name of the industrie pay tribute to him.

AC/DC has been at the top of hard rock scene for over 50 years now, despite all the hardships they had to go through.

The band has planned the release of their next album Power Up for the 13th november 2020 !

That’s it for AC/DC’s story ! Tell us what you think about this article. If you’re a true AC/DC fans check out our selection of vintage AC/DC t-shirt available now !