AC/DC was formed in 1973 by brothers, Malcolm and Angus Young. The two boys weren’t strangers to the music business, their older brother George, was a part of the most successful 60’s band in Australia, The Easybeats.
After both had been members of a few unsuccessful bands, Malcolm decided to form his own band. Malcolm’s vision was a hard rocking band with an image of stack heeled boots and long hair!
The name AC/DC fits so well with the bands electrifying performances. It was suggested by two of the members sister, she’d seen it on a label on the back of a vacuum cleaner. The band did their first performance on New Year’s Eve in 1973, at a small club called Chequers in Sydney, Australia.
Right from the start Angus was determined to make a lasting impression on the fans. He had tried on several costumes before the gig and had decided on the schoolboy uniform that would become his trademark!
The band’s stage presence became almost as popular as their music. Early management had Angus in everything from a gorilla suit, to a Spiderman outfit standing in front of a huge spider web. At one time Angus had even burst out of a phone booth wearing a Superman outfit on stage!
After six months and several member changes, AC/DC recorded their first single. With “Can I Sit Next To You Girl” and “Rockin’ In The Parlour” the band had their first minor hit! And, they toured the clubs across Australia.
During one of their performances at the Hard Rock Cafe they met Michael Browning, the club owner. Browning became their manager and made many wise decisions for the band over the next few years.
The most important decision he probably ever made was to hire a driver to drive the band where ever they needed to go. The driver, Ronald Belford Scott, known as “Bon”. He convinced the Young brothers to let him have a chance at being their drummer and later on their singer.
Bon ended up becoming the frontman for the band and their real success started! Angus’ school uniform was also re-introduced as a regular stage outfit. The original one he’d worn had been his real school uniform from Ashfield’s Boy’s High, in Sydney.
AC/DC’s debut album, “High Voltage” was recorded in 1975 and was an immediate success all across Australia. It was cut in just ten days and released in February, by March the first single, “Baby Please Don’t Go” was on the charts!
At their first recording the band consisted of brothers Malcolm, Angus and George Young, Bon Scott and Terry Kerrante. In June the non-LP single “High Voltage” was released. The song had been intended for the album, but wasn’t completed in time for recording.
Mark Evans and Phil Rudd joined the band on drums and bass. Then their second album, “T.N.T.” was released by the end of 1975 and was very successful. AC/DC became the biggest rock and roll band in Australia with sales of over 100,000 albums!
The bands third album was recorded in January 1976, titled “Dirty Deeds Done Cheap”. The album wasn’t released until September, but the singles, “Jail Break” and “Fling Thing” were already out.
Although their popularity in Australia had grown faster than the band expected, their attempts to expand internationally had failed. The band knew to reach overseas markets they’d have to have a powerful record company backing them.
Browning got AC/DC a worldwide deal with the London office of Atlantic Records in the spring of 1976. The contract was signed and the band relocated to Britain in April.
From 1974 up until 1978, the band reached many fans through their regular appearances on a pop TV show called, “Countdown”. The show was broadcast nationally and AC/DC became one of the most successful acts in Australia.
The band spent the late 70’s almost constantly touring, gaining both experience and reaching an even wider base of fans. They toured supporting top hard rocking acts such as Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith and many more!
AC/DC’s outrageous antics and electrifying performances gained them a solid cult following throughout the UK. Angus became notorious for mooning the audience and the band was even banned from some of the British venues!
Tragedy struck the band in 1980, Bon was found dead in the back seat of a friend’s car. He’d died from both hypothermia and choking on his own vomit. Bon’s entrance into the band had been the beginning of their success and his persona on stage had been a huge part of the band’s popularity.
Brian Johnson was brought in as lead singer and they began recording their next album. “Back In Black” was to become AC/DC’s biggest selling album of their career! And, has become the second best worldwide selling album in music history!
“Back In Black” was at the top of the UK charts within weeks. In the U.S. it reached the 4th spot on the charts and held a top ten position for over five months and the album went to #2 in Australia.
The first publication of Kerrang! in 1981, listed AC/DC as having the greatest Metal song of all times with “Whole Lotta Rosie”. And, in the February 1982 issue, AC/DC had seven albums that were among the All Time Top Heavy Metal Albums chart!
By the end of 1982, the band was officially recognized as a top rock band when the Kerrang!’ reader’s poll voted them the “Top Band”! Cliff was “Top Bassist” and Angus was voted “Top Guitarist”.
The reader poll also voted them as having the “Best Single” with “For Those About To Rock” and they’d won voting for the “Best Live Gig”! Phil won the second best drummer, Brian was the third top male vocalist. And, “Let’s Get It Up” was voted the sixth best single. Angus also won another honor with the reader’s of being voted second in the “Male Pin-Up” category!
In 1985 the band was approached by Stephen King. King was a huge fan and wanted to use some of the bands old material for an upcoming movie, “Maximum Overdrive”. King had also asked that they record some new songs exclusively for the movie.
Within two weeks they had recorded, “Who Made Who”, “D.T.” and “Chase the Ace”. When “Who Made Who” was released it quickly became their biggest success in years.
George Young produced AC/DC’s sixteenth studio album that was released in 2000, “Stiff Upper Lip”. The album reached #1 in three countries, #3 in Australia, in Canada and Portugal it hit #5 and hit #7 in the U.S. as well as Hungary and Norway!
In 2002, they were named as one of the “50 Band’s To See Before You Die” by Q Magazine. And by 2003, the band had reached album sales of 63 million, earning them the place as the fifth best selling band in U.S. music history!
The walls trembled at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel in March of 2003 as AC/DC performed “Highway To Hell” at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
And, on July 30 they performed to an audience of 500,000 in Ontario Canada!
“Back In Black” also hit U.S. sales of 20,000,000 in 2003, certifying it as Double Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America!
A multi album deal was signed with Sony Music in 2002 and Sony released a series of albums containing remastered songs. The band has continued to play at sold out tours, have topped the records on concert attendances and released many best selling albums.
AC/DC were pioneers in the heavy metal and hard rockin’ world of music. They’ve been the inspiration for many new bands that’s hit the music scene and will always live in the hearts of their millions of fans.
Through all the hardships, the member changes and the exhausting touring and recording schedules, they’ve remained true to their roots. And, have never ceased to both surprise and captivate audiences!
After 35 years AC/DC’s career and popularity hasn’t even started to slow down! The band’s album sales have reached almost 70 million in the U.S. and is estimated at 150 million worldwide. And, with “Back In Black” selling over 22 million copies across the U.S. and nearly 42 million worldwide, it holds the title of being the 5th highest selling U.S. album in music history!
Copyright David Slone 2009 all rights reserved and may not be republished in any form.