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AC DC

This theatrical Australian hard rock band was formed in November 1973 by Malcolm Young (b. 6 January 1953, Glasgow, Scotland; rhythm guitar) after the demise of his previous outfit, the Velvet Underground (no relation to the US group). Young, whose elder brother George had already achieved stardom in Australia as a member of the Easybeats, also enlisted his younger brother, Angus Young (b. 31 March 1955, Glasgow, Scotland; guitar). Their sister later suggested that Angus wear his school uniform on stage, a gimmick that rapidly became their trademark. The two brothers made their debut appearance in a bar in Sydney on 31 December 1973, along with Dave Evans (vocals), Larry Van Kriedt (bass) and Colin Burgess (drums). In late 1974, the Young brothers and Evans moved to Melbourne. Another immigrant from the UK, Bon Scott (b. Ronald Belford Scott, 9 July 1946, Forfar, Scotland, d. 19 February 1980, London, England; vocals), graduated from being the band's chauffeur to becoming their vocalist when Dave Evans refused to go on stage one night. (Evans went on to form Rabbit, releasing two albums for CBS Records in Australia, before joining Hot ****erel in 1984 and releasing David Evans And Thunder Down Under in 1986.

) Scott had previously recorded with two Australian outfits, pop group the Valentines (1966-68) and rockers Fraternity (1970-74). Indeed, after he emigrated from Scotland in 1951, he had also spent five consecutive years as drum champion (under-17 section) with the Perth Pipe Band. After such a wholesome start, a prison conviction for assault and battery indicated a more volatile side to his nature, and resulted in him being refused admission to the army. In 1965, he joined the Spectors, before the aforementioned periods with the Valentines and Fraternity.
The AC/DC line-up that welcomed Scott had already recorded a s****ry single, "Can I Sit Next To You Girl", but it was his voice that graced their first two albums, High Voltage and T.N.T.. The latter album also introduced two new members, Mark Evans (b. 2 March 1956, Melbourne, Australia; bass) and Phil Rudd (b. Phillip Hugh Norman Witschke, 19 May 1954, Melbourne, Australia; drums). Both sets were produced by George Young and his writing partner, another former Easybeat, Harry Vanda. Neither set was issued outside Australia, though Atlantic Records in Britain did offer a selection of material from both records under the title High Voltage in 1976. These albums established AC/DC as a major draw in their native territory, and brought them to the attention of Atlantic, who promptly relocated the band to London in January 1976.

However, Evans was replaced by Cliff Williams (b. 14 December 1949, Romford, Es****, England; ex-Home) in June 1977 after the former tired of touring. He went on to Finch/Contraband, then a variety of bands including Swanee, Heaven, Best and Party Boys.
Once AC/DC began to tour outside Australia, the band quickly amassed a cult following, as much for the unashamed gimmickry of its live show as for its furious, frequently risqué brand of hard rock. Let There Be Rock broke them as a chart act in the UK, with its contents including the perennial crowd-pleaser, "Whole Lotta Rosie'. The live If You Want Blood You've Got It consolidated their position, but 1979"s Highway To Hell established them as international stars. This, the band's first album with producer Mutt Lange, also proved to be their last with Bon Scott. On 19 February 1980, after a night of heavy drinking, he was left unconscious in a friend's car, and was later found to be dead, having choked on his own vomit. The coroner recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.
Scott's death threatened the band's future, but his replacement, former Geordie lead singer Brian Johnson (b. 5 October 1947, Dunston, England), proved more than equal to the task.

His first album with the band, Back In Black, reached number 1 in the UK and Australia, number 4 in the USA, and spawned the UK number 15 single "Rock 'n' Roll Ain't Noise Pollution". The album was certified as having sold 12 million copies in the USA by March 1996. In 1981, For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) topped the American charts for three weeks, the band headlined at the Donington Festival and also achieved two Top 20 UK singles ("Let's Get It Up" and "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)"). After Flick Of The Switch in 1983, drummer Phil Rudd left the band to become a helicopter pilot in New Zealand, and was replaced by Simon Wright (b. 19 June 1963; ex-A II Z and Tytan) - who in turn departed to join Dio in 1989. His replacement was Chris Slade (b. 30 October 1946; ex-Manfred Mann's Earth Band).
In keeping with their superstar status, AC/DC maintained an increasingly relaxed schedule through the 80s, touring to support each carefully spaced album release. Two UK Top 20 singles, "Who Made Who" (1986) and "Heatseeker" (1988), confirmed their enduring popularity. There were further "casualties", however. When Malcolm Young was unfit to tour in 1988 his cousin, Stevie Young (ex-Starfighters), temporarily deputized.

Paul Greg also stepped in for Cliff Williams on the US leg of their 1991 tour. A year earlier, The Razors Edge had been one of the more successful albums of their later career, producing a Top 20 UK hit, "Thunderstruck" and reaching number 2 on the album chart in America. In 1992, they issued a live album, while the attendant single, "Highway To Hell", made the UK Top 20. With Brian Johnson long having buried the ghost of Bon Scott, the band showed no signs of varying its winning musical formula, and in 1994 were buoyed by the return of Rudd to the line-up. The following year's Ballbreaker marked a powerful return after a lengthy break from recording. The ensuing Bonfire box set, meanwhile, served as a fitting memorial to Bon Scott. The band greeted the new millennium in typical style with the "business as usual" recording, S****Upper Lip. They were deservedly inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in March 2003.

DISCOGRAPHY: High Voltage Australia only (Albert 1975)**, T.N.T. Australia only (Albert 1976)**, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (Atlantic 1976)***, Let There Be Rock (Atlantic 1977)****, Powerage (Atlantic 1978)***, If You Want Blood You've Got It (Atlantic 1978)***, Highway To Hell (Atlantic 1979)****, Back In Black (Atlantic 1980)****, For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) (Atlantic 1981)****, Flick Of The Switch (Atlantic 1983)**, '74 Jailbreak mini-album (Atlantic 1984)**, Fly On The Wall (Atlantic 1985)**, Who Made Who (Atco 1986)***, Blow Up Your Video (Atlantic 1988)**, The Razors Edge (Atco 1990)***, Live (Atco 1992)**, Ballbreaker (Atlantic 1995)***, S****Upper Lip (EMI 2000)***.


COMPILATIONS: High Voltage (Atlantic 1976)**, Box Set 1 (EMI 1981)***, Box Set 2 (EMI 1987)***, Bonfire 4-CD box set (EMI 1997)****.
VIDEOGRAPHY: Let There Be Rock (Warner Home Video 1985), Fly On The Wall (Atlantic Video 1985), Who Made Who (Atlantic Video 1986), Clipped (AVision 1991), Live At Donington (AVision 1992), No Bull (Warner Music Vision 1996), S****Upper Lip Live (Warner Music Vision 2001), Family Jewels (BMG 2005).


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