Widely regarded as one of the most influential bands in the history of rock, AC/DC pioneered the sound of hard rock and heavy metal music together with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. The band was formed in 1973 in Sydney by Scottish-born brothers Angus and Malcolm Young. An early influence to the band’s career was their sister Margaret that came up with both the band’s name AC/DC (meaning alternating current / direct current) after she read it on an electrical machine and Angus’ trademark school uniform look (he was still a school student at the time).
Bon Scott Era (1974 – 1980)
After a number of member changes in the first year, the band settled with lead singer Dave Evans, Rob Bailey on bass, Peter Clarke on drums and the Young brothers on guitars. With this lineup they did some touring around Australia, however, when they started recording for their debut album Evans, Clarke and Bailey were let go and replaced by their bus driver Bon Scott on vocals, Phil Rudd on drums and Mark Evans on bass guitar.
Under this lineup the band recorded their first three albums “High Voltage” (1974), “TNT” (1975) and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirty Cheap” (1976). Considerable success was achieved by touring Australia, the UK and US and in the process the band cemented their image as wild, crazy and fun, lead by Bon Scott’s charismatic voice and Angus’ powerful guitar play. In early 1977 Evans left the band and was replaced by Cliff Williams. Under the new lineup AC/DC recorded their next album “Let There Be Rock”, their first one to chart in the US. The band’s fan base was expanding quickly and was given a further boost by the 1978 album “Powerage” and live album “If You Want Blood, You Got It”.
It was in 1979 and 1980, however, that through a couple of landmarks in rock history that AC/DC truly became superstars. The first one was the release of the all-time classic album “Highway To Hell” that became their first million selling album. Tragically the second one was the death of their frontman Bon Scott. He was found dead at the backseat of a friend’s car after a wild night of drinking.
Brian Johnson Era (1980 – present)
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At the time of Scott’s death the band already started working on their next album, however, they decided to start from scratch with new singer Brian Johnson. In record time the band released “Back In Black”, an album titled to reflect Scott’s loss. What they didn’t know at the time was that they recorded an absolute masterpiece that went on to sell 42 million copies worldwide! For the next few years the band dominated the world and with 1981’s “For Those About To Rock We Salute You” they topped the US charts once again.
In 1982 while recording “Flick Of The Switch” Rudd left and with new replacement Simon Wright the band recorded “Fly On The Wall” (1985), “Who Made Who” (1986) and “Blow Up Your Video” (1988). As by the mid-80’s the music stage was dominated by the new wave of heavy metal bands lead by Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica and Van Halen, AC/DC’s powerful machine begun to decline. In 1988 Wright was replaced by Chris Slade who in turn only participated in 1990’s “Razor Edge”, the big comeback the group was looking for. By 1994 Slade was gone and Phil Rudd returned. With the reformation of the classic 1980-1983 lineup, the band recorded “Ballbreaker” in 1995 and “Stiff Upper Lip” in 2000.
As the new millennium entered, AC/DC were still going strong. In 2003 the Recording Industry Association Of America upgraded the group’s US sales figures to 63 million, making the band the fifth most successful in US history behind The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Eagles. The same year in March, the band rocked New York’s historic Waldorf Astoria Hotel as they performed “Highway To Hell” during their induction in the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame. Also in July the band played alongside the Rolling Stones in front of nearly half a million people in Toronto to help the city recover from the effects of the SARS outbreak. More than 30 years on, AC/DC are still inspiring rock fans all around the world with their unique sounds and powerful lyrics.
AC/DC… We Salute You!
| “She was a fast machine, She kept her motor clean, She was the best damn woman I had ever seen, She had the sightless eyes, Telling me no lies, Knockin’ me out with those American thighs”
AC/DC – 1986