AC/DC has always been Malcolm and Angus Young. Scottish immigrant kids who grew up in Sydney’s inner west, left school early and taught themselves to play guitar within a musical, working-class family. Taking their inspiration from elder brother and ex-Easybeats member George Young and their name from the electric safety plate on the family’s vacuum cleaner; they formed AC/DC in late 1973.
For a year the band went through a number of line-up changes, while experimenting with a kind of ‘Westey’ glam rock and playing regular gigs around Sydney. By 1975 they had moved to Melbourne’s tough pub circuit, and the line-up had settled on the brothers’ Young on rhythm and lead guitars; tear-away fellow Scottish émigré Bon Scott on vocals; drummer Phil Rudd, who joined from Melbourne band Buster Brown and Mark Evans on bass.
Bon’s high-pitched gritty voice, dirty pared-back lyrics, tight jeans and so-called ‘troubled’ past, gave the band a dangerous quality it had previously lacked. Combined with Angus Young’s manic schoolboy antics, AC/DC were not only rockin’, they were entertaining.
Hungry for success, AC/DC toured constantly during 1975, playing at least 268 shows throughout south-eastern Australia. Somehow they also found the time to write, record and release two studio albums: High Voltage and the breakthrough T.N.T., which included the classic tracks: ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)’; ‘The Jack’; ‘Livewire’; ‘T.N.T.’; and ‘High Voltage’.
For over 35 years, AC/DC have played an increasingly influential role within popular music culture. With their simple mantra – that it is just ‘good, hard rock and roll’ – and an extraordinarily productive work ethic, encompassing over 18 original albums and 60 substantial tours, they now command a level of respect that is as unprecedented as it has been hard won.
Arts Centre Melbourne’s 2010 Icon exhibition was entitled ‘AC/DC Australia’s Family Jewels’ and celebrated the history, music, performance and creativity of one of the world’s greatest Rock and Roll bands.
Costumes, photographs, posters. Date Range: 1970s - 2010
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