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Never the most photogenic of bands, especially after the sad early drink related departure of the bands only ‘looker’, vocalist Bon Scott in 1980, AC/DC have built approaching a forty year long career on nonsense lyrics, no-nonsense boogie-metal and the sort of utterly nonsensical touring schedules that make today’s tours look like long weekends. Displaying every rock and roll cliché in the book (hell AC/DC wrote most of the book), from tight jeans, tats, bared chests (and arses) and a revolving door drum stool policy – ten different arses have occupied the Acca Dacca drum stool over the years, current tub thumper Phil Rudd having by far the longest tenure (mind you there were also seven different bass players until Cliff Williams poled up in 1977). Basically AC/DC are about as subtle as a punch up the bracket. From Angus Young’s head-pounding, stuttering arrhythmic duck walk and hyperactive slack jawed gurning soloing and the rock solid rhythm chops of his brother Malcolm (the Young siblings being the only two constants throughout the bands long career) all topped off by the scrotum clenching squeal of Scott’s replacement Brian Johnson, AC/DC remain as immovable as beachy head in a force ten gale, and whilst the formula has remained straightforwardly simple throughout their career, frankly there isn’t a band on the planet that does this better.

Bon ScottAlthough known as an Australian band brothers Malcolm, Angus, and elder brother George (a member of Australia’s major ‘60s pop exports the Easybeats and producer of many of the bands albums) were born in Glasgow, Scotland, and only moved to Sydney in 1963, Malcolm and Angus forming AC/DC (the name suggested by their sister Margaret who was also responsible for Angus’ school-uniform) in 1973 with bassist Larry Van Kriedt, vocalist Dave Evans, and drummer Colin Burgess the first in a long list players that would briefly join and then leave (or be ejected) from the band as the Young brothers searched for direction and learned their stage chops. The next major part of the puzzle would drop into place in 1974 when Ronald Belford 'Bon' Scott (another Scot’s expat) replaced Dave Evans and the band released debut album High Voltage and very quickly followed it up with T.N.T. (both 1975), although only in Australia and New Zealand. In 1976, the band began to tour extensively throughout Europe releasing a compilation of tracks taken from the High Voltage and T.N.T. albums (also entitled High Voltage), picking up a strong UK following along the way, and in the same year released their next album Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (although this was not released in the US until 1981).

Let There Be Rock, followed in 1977 (bassist Mark Evans replaced by Cliff Williams), as the band began their first forays into America and a year later Powerage arrived, the tour in support of this album supplying possibly the bands finest live set If You Want Blood You've Got It. However it was on their next album Highway To Hell (‘79), produced by Mutt Lange, that they really made inroads into the US (finally breaking onto the US top twenty) and the premier league of rock. The six long years of hard work was finally beginning to pay off and with the new decade barely underway the band began work with Lange again on, what would eventually become, Back In Black. Bon Scott however would tragically not live to see the project finished as on 19 February he passed out in a car after a night of heavy drinking at the Music Machine club in London and was found dead the following morning.

The dream, it seemed, had died with Scott and initially the band even considered calling it a day, but made of sterner stuff they set about finding a replacement vocalist (Slade’s Noddy Holder being one possibility), finally settling on ex-Geordie man Brian's Johnson, all of which made the resultant album all the more remarkable as Back In Black delivered perennial AC/DC moments like ‘Hells Bells’, ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’, ‘Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution’ and of course the title track eventually going on to spend 131 weeks on the US charts selling an astonishing 49 million copies and becoming the second biggest selling album of all time behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Follow-up, 1981's For Those About to Rock We Salute You, also sold very well, however as the band set out on yet more mammoth tours the strain was beginning to show and in 1983 Phil Rudd and Malcolm Young fought and Rudd was out, and the rest of the ‘80s proved fallow ground as Flick Of The Switch (’83), Fly On The Wall (’85) and Who Made Who (’86) all charted progressively poorly. In an effort to regain their mojo the band asked brother George to helm 1988 album, Blow Up Your Video and it clearly worked as the album ultimately sold more copies than the previous two studio releases combined (although in all honesty it isn’t one of their better efforts), and The Razors Edge (’90), proved to be another step in the right direction, a direction they continued to follow on Ballbreaker (’95) - which also saw the return of drummer Phil Rudd - Stiff Upper Lip (2000) and Black Ice (’08).

AC/DC were named as the Business Review Weekly’s top Australian earner for 2009 with earnings of $105 million and they are currently the biggest selling catalogue band in the world having sold over 200 million albums worldwide. A bronze statue of Bon Scott was unveiled on February 24, 2008 at the Fisherman's Wharf in Fremantle.
Andy Basire

AC/DC 2011: Brian Johnson, Cliff Williams, Angus Young, Phil Rudd and Malcolm Young

AC/DC Live At The River Plate filmed on the bands Black Ice world tour is out now on DVD, Blu-Ray and Ltd Edition collectors edition with t-shirt and you can find more details at www.ACDC.com the live dvd also includes bonus documentary 'The Fan, The Roadie, The Guitar Tech & The Meat'.

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