AC/DC are, to put it bluntly, icons and legends of the music industry. Their “hit you in the face” style of hard rock has entertained fans for decades, and their more recognized hits continue to get played on rock music stations and at sporting events. AC/DC was, during the band’s commercial success, able to produce songs that landed in the “heavy metal” genre but that were also catchy in the minds of those who probably would not consider themselves to be fans of such music. While things have changed for the group since AC/DC first emerged, you can still, as of February 2016, see the band play live. You should jump on the opportunity if it arises.
One could claim that AC/DC are one of the more underrated bands in history as it pertains to certain lists. AC/DC are often placed in a tier beneath The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Those who would say that AC/DC should not be classified as heavy metal may rate groups such as Motorhead and Iron Maiden ahead of AC/DC. Such opinions are, of course, subjective. Music fans who are just now diving into the AC/DC catalog may have never known the following information about the band, while others who are just now rediscovering the awesomeness that is AC/DC may have forgotten these 15 things.
15. The Name
It sometimes seems as if the fates came together to provide a legendary band with an incredible and memorable name. In other cases, though, there is just a funny story behind it. The story here is that Margaret Young, the sister of the founders of the group, noticed the initials “AC/DC” on a sewing machine. The letters stand for “alternate current/direct current,” but the not-yet rock icons felt that AC/DC also happened to make a great name for their band. What they did not know, however, was that AC/DC was also a slang term for bisexuality, and this led to the existence of certain rumors.
14. Gay/Bisexual Rumors
People being introduced to AC/DC before the band became a household name had a good reason to believe that the name had something to do with a reference to bisexuality. Just as so many bands that are looking to get a break would do, AC/DC accepted pretty much any gig they could get in the 1970s. This included offers from gay bars. As time went on, rumors spread that the AC/DC name may have something to do with the personal lives of at least some members of the band. Those stories have repeatedly been debunked. If only the Internet existed to explain such things in the 70s.
13. Not Born in the USA
The Australian rock band had already made it big in their homeland by the time that the United States heard their sound. The first two albums released by AC/DC were domestic releases only at first. In 1976, AC/DC released Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap all over the world, except for one place: The United States. Rock fans living in the USA would not be able to purchase Dirty Deeds at local stores until 1981. By this time, of course, AC/DC had already achieved superstar status. In fact, AC/DC were just a couple of years away from a brief decline when Dirty Deeds first landed in the US.
12. The Uniform
Angus Young, co-founder of AC/DC and widely recognized as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, tried out a variety of different costumes during his early days on stage. Young eventually settled on the schoolboy uniform because of a suggestion from his sister, the same sister who helped turn AC/DC into name immediately associated with rock and roll. According to Russell Hall of Gibson.com, Young once claimed that he planned on wearing the schoolboy outfit into his 60s. He has thus far lived up to the gimmick, and nobody should expect that will change anytime soon.
11. Rolling Stone’s All-Time Low
Some bands are respected and even admired by critics right out of the gate. The opposite was true for AC/DC back in the 1970s. Upon the original release of the High Voltage album, Rolling Stone magazine offered the following comment: “Hard rock has unquestionably hit its all-time low.” Fans and history have obviously not agreed with that assessment. A wrong was somewhat righted in 2008 when AC/DC finally appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone. Anybody trying to make it in any aspect of the entertainment business would do well to remember what was said about AC/DC all those years ago.
10. Operation Nifty Package
Remember how your parents used to complain when you would play loud music in your bedroom? It turns out that there may be something to that. “Operation Nifty Package” was the name of the mission put into place in December 1989. The plan was to capture Panamanian leader General Manuel Noriega by using psychological warfare that included loud music. Of course AC/DC would have to be on such a playlist, and the mission was ultimately successful. Noriega turned himself in, and rock and roll had notched yet another victory against evil.
9. “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” Phone Number
Being a famous rock star can be a lot of fun, but it can also bring with it some unintentional headaches. In the song “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” several numbers are sung followed by “Hey,” which sounded to some like an “8.” When put together, the numbers come out “3624368.” A couple having that phone number sued the band after claiming that they received numerous prank calls. Here is a word of advice for anybody starting out in the music industry: Just leave any phone number, real or fake, out of your songs. You’ll save yourself some unwanted trouble.
8. Worst Cover of All Time?
Maybe some versions of cover songs are better off left for karaoke nights when the majority of those in attendance are too drunk to really know what it is they are hearing. Celine Dion, apparently a fan of AC/DC, decided to cover the band’s song “You Shook Me All Night Long.” Fans of AC/DC and also those who have good taste were neither entertained nor amused by Dion’s take on the song. In fact, one European rock magazine rated Dion’s cover as the worst in history. We assume that those making the call haven’t gone out to dive bars on Friday and Saturday nights in a plethora of towns and cities located in the U.S. Some of those cover bands are…woof.
7. Fall of Communism
The Cold War had ended, and the Soviet Union had fallen. There was obviously just one thing left for Russia to do: Rock! AC/DC joined up with Metallica, Pantera and the Black Crowes for the first concert in the region following the fall of communism. The story goes that roughly 500,000 fans were expected to watch the event live and in-person. Instead, it was reported that over a million people flocked to the venue. Specific numbers vary per source – from 1.2 million to 1.6 million – but the show is widely regarded as one of the biggest concerts in history.
6. New Digital Resistance
It would not be a stretch to suggest that AC/DC were pioneers and a revolutionary act in multiple ways. One thing that AC/DC did not do, however, was immediately embrace the idea that younger audiences were not listening to and buying music as they did in prior decades. It was only in 2012 when AC/DC first allowed the band’s catalog to appear on iTunes. Three years after that, AC/DC finally decided to make songs available via Spotify. We get it. Change can be a scary thing, even for Rock Gods. Besides, it is not as if AC/DC was the first and only group to take such a stance regarding services such as iTunes and Spotify.
5. ACDC Lane
Iconic figures such as AC/DC are remembered and cherished in a variety of ways. The Melbourne City Council elected to name a city street after the band. What was formerly known as Corporation Lane was chosen to be renamed “ACDC Lane” after the council unanimously voted that the band deserved that honor. One thing you may immediately notice when you see the name of the street is that the lightning bolt that has been part of the band’s logo is not included for the street. After all, you really can’t pronounce a symbol, and doing so when mentioning the street would be weird and also a mouthful.
4. Bon Scott Almost Fired
Bon Scott was the original front man for AC/DC, but it has been learned that he was almost booted from the group before it achieved international success. Scott allegedly suffered a heroin overdose in 1975, and there were reportedly discussions within the group about replacing him in part because they could not trust that he would be reliable. Scott remained with the group when all was said and one, and he was still part of AC/DC when he died from alcohol consumption/poisoning in 1980. It has long been speculated that heroin may have played at least some role in Scott’s untimely passing.
3. Back in Black
The show must go on, teaches the famous adage, and it did for AC/DC when Brian Johnson was brought on to fill the void left by Scott’s passing. Back in Black was the first album produced by AC/DC following Scott’s death. It is, to date, one of the most successful albums in the history of released recorded music. Back in Black has, as of the posting of this piece, sold over 49 million copies worldwide. Only Thriller, the legendary Michael Jackson album, has been responsible for more total worldwide sales. Thriller has sold over 100 million copies, so don’t hold your breath thinking AC/DC will catch the “King of Pop.”
2. No. 72 According to Rolling Stone
Remember how Rolling Stone was not all that keen on AC/DC years ago? Some would say that never changed, as Rolling Stone ranked AC/DC as No. 72 in its list of the 100 greatest artists. Rick Rubin, the legendary producer who has worked with some of the best in the business, did not agree with where Rolling Stone put AC/DC on the list. Rubin wrote the following about AC/DC for the Rolling Stone piece: “I’ll go on record as saying they’re the greatest rock & roll band of all time. They didn’t write emotional lyrics. They didn’t play emotional songs. The emotion is all in that groove. And that groove is timeless.”
1. No. 23 According to VH1
VH1 gave a little more respect to AC/DC than did Rolling Stone. AC/DC checked in at No. 23 on the VHI list of the greatest artists of all time. Nirvana, a band that made a lasting impact on the music industry and culture but also a group that was really only in the mainstream for half of a decade, was rated No. 14. The Beatles topped the list, and they were followed by Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. Album sales seem to indicate that AC/DC deserved, if nothing else, to be closer to the top ten. Where would you put AC/DC among the greatest artists in history?