The hard-rockers of AC/DC
No band rocks harder than ACϟDC. They know how to rock. With their theatrical and high-voltage shows, they have captivated audiences across the globe and the musical sensibilities. Their music may seem "simplistic" to some, but no one can deny they are one of the most important hard rock acts of the decade. Their massive power chord has become a defining sound of hard rock and metal music.
Some call their music hard rock, some call it blues rock, and some, heavy metal, but they call it simply "rock and roll, nothing more, nothing less."
Here we take a look at the superband, from then to now.
AC/DC was formed in Sydney in 1973 by Scottish-born brothers Malcolm Young and Angus Young. In June 1963, the family left Glasgow, Scotland and moved to Sydney, Australia. George became a member of the band Easybeats; Malcolm and Angus formed AC/DC in 1973. They picked the name AC/DC after they saw the abbreviation on their sister's sewing machine. They felt the name would aptly represent their high-voltage, power-driven music performances.
The band was formed in November 1973 and they performed live in Australia before releasing their first album, High Voltage, in February 1975. The band went through several line-up changes in that period. The band was originally founded by Malcolm who later recruited Angus. Their initial line-up comprised bassist Larry Van Kriedt, vocalist Bon Scott, and drummer Colin Burgess (from the band Masters Apprentices). After some re-shuffling, the band settled on the final original members: Bon Scott as the vocalist, Phil Rudd as the drummer, Cliff Williams as the bassist, Malcolm as the rhythm guitarist/songwriter/back-up vocals, and Angus as the lead guitarist.
By this time, Angus had adopted his characteristic school-uniform stage outfit, after having tried other costumes: Spider-Man, Zorro, a gorilla, and a parody of Superman, named Super-Ang.
Malcolm Young was born Malcolm Mitchell Young on January 6, 1953, in Glasgow, Scotland. He is the second youngest brother of eight children. Older brother, Alex, already played music in Glasgow before relocating to Australia. Following the footsteps of the older brother, Malcolm had started playing the guitar around the age of four. Malcolm dropped out of high school and took odd jobs here and there: first as an apprentice fitter, and then later as a sewing machine maintenance mechanic for Berlei, a brassiere factory.
Malcolm left AC/DC in mid-2014 to receive treatment for dementia. In September 2014, the band's management announced that he would be retiring permanently. He died from the effects of dementia on 18 November 2017.
Angus Young was the lead guitarist of AC/DC.
Angus McKinnon Young (born 31 March 1955 in Glasgow, Scotland) was the last son and youngest of eight children. Malcolm once told Mojo magazine, “Stevie, the oldest, played accordion. Alex and John were the first couple to play guitar, and being older it was sort of passed down to George, then myself, and then Angus. Like when you're kids and you get all your brothers' and sisters' hand-me-downs. We never realized that we were learning guitars—they were always just there. We thought that everyone was like that. Me and Angus would just fiddle — 12 bars mainly, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presley.”
Angus is known for his energetic performances, schoolboy-uniform stage outfits, and his own version of Chuck Berry's duckwalk. He was ranked 24th in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 greatest guitarists of all-time list. In 2003, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Bon Scott was the lead vocalist for the band until he died in 1980.
Bon Scott was born Ronald Belford Scott on 9 July 1946 in Kirriemuir, Scotland. After his father was discharged from the Army, he and his wife Isa settled in Kirriemuir, where he became a member of the local amateur light opera company and played drums in a pipe band. In 1952, when he was six, he and the family moved to Australia, where he got the nickname "Bonny Scotland." Scott formed his first band, The Spektors, in 1964 and became the band's drummer and sometimes vocalist. In 1974, he replaced Dave Evans to become the lead singer of AC/DC. He remained with the band until his untimely death on 19 February 1980.
After his death, singer Brian Johnson took his place.
Phil Rudd was the band's drummer.
Phil Rudd was born on 19 May 1954 in Melbourne, Australia as Phillip Hugh Norman Witschke Rudzevecuis. He was the drummer of the band from 1975 through 1983, and again from 1994 to 2015. After Mark Evans left, he was the only Australian-born member of the band. In 2003, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with the other members of AC/DC.
Rudd dropped out of school at fifteen. He started out as a painter, then an electrician's apprentice, and then an apprentice with an air conditioning company. With his first paycheck, Phil bought a $250 Japanese drum kit from a company called Boston. Having received only one formal lesson, Rudd chose to learn the drums on his own. He learned by playing along with all his favorite albums, including the Small Faces, the Beatles, Free, Bad Company, and Mountain.
Cliff Williams was the bassist and backing singer for AC/DC from 1977 until his retirement in 2016. He was born on 14 December 1949 in Romford (Essex), England. A self-taught musician, he got his first guitar at the age of ten and by the time he was fourteen, he was playing bass.
In 1977, AC/DC were looking to replace their bassist Mark Evans. They auditioned over fifty bass players. Williams said in an interview with Guitar School: I auditioned. The band was looking to strengthen up their rhythm section, so they came to London where there was a larger pool of players. They had a few records out at that point, were successful in Australia, and toured Europe once or twice, but hadn’t been to the States yet. They were looking to tour the US behind the Let There Be Rock album. Anyway, I got a call from a friend of a friend who thought I might be right for the job, and I ended up auditioning a number of times.
Williams is known for the way he played the eighth note. Guitar School once wrote that he played "with the vengeance of a teen in heat."
Brian Johnson became the lead singer of AC/DC after Bon Scott's death.
Johnson was born on October 5, 1947, in Dunston, Gateshead, in northeast England. As a child, he sang in the church choir and performed Gang Shows with the Scouts. He once also starred in a television play.
Before joining AC/DC, he was one of the founding members of the rock band Geordie, in Newcastle in 1971. After Scott's death, he was asked to audition for AC/DC. Angus recalled, "I remember Bon playing me Little Richard, and then telling me the story of when he saw Brian singing [with Geordie]. [...] 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!"
The band agreed that Johnson's performing style fit AC/DC's music. After around five weeks of Bon Scott's death, AC/DC had found their new voice. His first album with AC/DC was Back in Black, which became the second best-selling album of all time according to most estimates.
On 16 April 2016, AC/DC released a statement announcing the addition of Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose as the band's lead vocalist for the remainder of their 2016 tour dates. The statement read: "AC/DC band members would like to thank Brian Johnson for his contributions and dedication to the band throughout the years. We wish him all the best with his hearing issues and future ventures. As much as we want this tour to end as it started, we understand, respect and support Brian's decision to stop touring and save his hearing. We are dedicated to fulfilling the remainder of our touring commitments to everyone that has supported us over the years, and are fortunate that Axl Rose has kindly offered his support to help us fulfill this commitment. AC/DC will resume their Rock or Bust World Tour with Axl Rose joining on vocals."
Over the years, AC/DC had many transitory members:
- Bassist Rob Bailey from April 1974 until January 1975
- Drummer Colin Burgess from late 1973 until early 1974
- Drummer Ron Carpenter for a few weeks in the beginning
- Drummer Peter Clark for a few months until the release of High Voltage
- Drummer Russell Coleman played in February 1974
- Drummer Tony Currenti, who played right until the band hired Phil Rudd
- Singer Dave Evans until Bon Scott was hired in 1974
- Bassist Mark Evans, until he was replaced by Cliff Williams in 1977
- Bassist Paul Matters, who played for a bit until Mark Evans was hired
- Drummer Noel Taylor until 1974
- Bassist Larry Van Kriedt –– AC/DC's first bass player, who played from November 1973 to February 1974
- Drummer B.J. Wilson was brought in to play on the album Flick of the Switch (1983) after Phil Rudd left the band, but none of his tracks were used
- Drummer Simon Wright, who was hired to play after Phil Rudd left in 1983. He was in the band from 1983 to 1989 and is featured on the albums Fly on the Wall, Who Made Who, and Blow Up Your Video. Wright left the band to play with Ronnie James Dio in 1990
- Bassist Alexander Young, who filled in on bass in 1975
- Guitarist Stevie Young, a nephew of Angus and Malcolm and son of elder brother Steve, joined AC/DC in May 2014 to work on their upcoming album Rock or Bust (November 2014.)
- 10 March 2003: AC/DC got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During the ceremony, they performed "Highway to Hell" and "You Shook Me All Night Long", with guest vocals provided by host Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.
- 22 March 2000: the municipality of Leganés (near Madrid) in Spain named a street in honor of the band as "Calle de AC/DC" ("AC/DC Street"). Malcolm and Angus attended the inauguration with many fans.
- May 2003: the Young brothers accepted a Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Service to Australian Music at the 2003 Music Winners Awards. At the ceremony, Malcolm Young paid special tribute to Bon Scott, who was also a recipient of the award.
- 1 October 2004: A central Melbourne Corporation Lane, was renamed ACDC Lane in honor of the band. The City forbade the use of the slash character in street names, so the four letters were combined.
- 2009: The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) upgraded the group's US sales figures from 69 million to 71 million, making AC/DC the fifth-best-selling band in US history and the tenth-best-selling artist, selling more albums than Madonna and Mariah Carey.
- High Voltage (1975) (Australia)
- T.N.T. (1975) (Australia)
- High Voltage (1976) (international)
- Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976)
- Let There Be Rock (1977)
- Powerage (1978)
- Highway to Hell (1979)
- Back in Black (1980)
- For Those About to Rock We Salute You (1981)
- Flick of the Switch (1983)
- Fly on the Wall (1985)
- Blow Up Your Video (1988)
- The Razors Edge (1990)
- Ballbreaker (1995)
- Stiff Upper Lip (2000)
- Black Ice (2008)
- Rock or Bust (2014)