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Music Storytellers - AC/DC
In The Beginning
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 boy’s 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 roll.
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 ACDC.
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 March 2008.
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 rerecorded again with Bon Scott under the title "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)". 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 Robin 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 stage.
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 albums.
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 place.
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 finalizing 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 2008.
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 awards tonight.
| Closed on 11/11/12 at 05:00PM
FanIQ Pts? No | Locker Room
| Multiple Choice Opinion Poll
|16 Fans|| |
|63%||a. 10 (For Those About to Rock, We Salute You!)|
|25%||b. 7-9 (Have A Drink on Me)|
|6%||c. 5-6 (Back in Black)|
|6%||d. 1-4 (No Interest / Never heard of them)|
|0%||e. AC/DC - MORE LIKE POWER OUTAGE!|
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