photo by Rebecca Blissett
There’s been a lot of rumour and speculation flying around the music world in the last few days regarding the status of legendary Aussie earbusters AC/DC.
Some media outlets were actually reporting the band’s demise, claiming that rhythm-guitarist and founding member Malcolm Young had suffered a stroke recently and would never be able to perform again.
Then today the band made this announcement on its website and Facebook page:
After forty years of life dedicated to AC/DC, guitarist and founding member Malcolm Young is taking a break from the band due to ill health. Malcolm would like to thank the group’s diehard legions of fans worldwide for their never-ending love and support.
In light of this news, AC/DC asks that Malcolm and his family’s privacy be respected during this time.
Then came the good news:
The band will continue to make music.
The world would be a much lamer place if AC/DC wasn’t rockin’ the joint. At least that’s the conclusion I came to after considering my personal connection to the band.
The first AC/DC album I remember owning was 1978’s Powerage, so I was a little slow to pick up on the group, not getting previously turned on to international releases like Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (’76) and Let There Be Rock (’77). But Powerage blew me away with bluesy boogie tunes like “Gimme a Bullet”, “Down Payment Blues”, and “Gone Shootin'”.
Keith Richards has stated that it’s his fave AC/DC album, so there ya go.
A few months after Powerage came out the band released its first live album, If You Want Blood You’ve Got It, so I scored that one real quick. True to its title, it sounded like its creation had left lead-guitarist Angus Young’s fingers dripping red. Goddamn was that one fierce-sounding platter. I relied on it continuously and at high volume to ease the suffering of studying at UBC, much to the chagrin of my landlord.
Five years later, as luck would have it, I’d scored a job writing about metal for Vancouver’s Georgia Straight newspaper, so when AC/DC came to town in support of its 1983 Flick of the Switch LP, I went and interviewed Malcolm, singer Brian Johnson, and then-new drummer Simon Wright in their room at the Four Seasons.
They were the coolest blokes you could ever be invited to have tea with.
Among other things, Johnson proclaimed his fondness for ZZ Top (“They don’t give a fuck”) and Young described their approach to making videos (“We just keep it raw and basic, like our music.”).
The next time I got to hang out with the boys was when they played B.C. Place Stadium on their Blow Up Your Video tour in 1988. There was a small riot outside the venue, if I recall correctly, but that didn’t stop me and some pissed-up buddies from invading their dressing room and scrounging beers and autographs on our backstage passes. I’m sure they didn’t remember me from five years earlier, but they were still unbelievably down-to-earth and friendly as hell.
Why can’t all rockers be like that!?
Over the years I’ve seen AC/DC in Vancouver numerous times, including in 1991 on the Razor’s Edge tour (“Thunderstruck” anyone?) and, most recently, in 2008 on the Black Ice tour. Each and every time they kicked extreme butt.
The Black Ice album—which was recorded here and mixed by Langley hard-rock maestro Mike Fraser—went to Number One in 29 countries and sold six-million copies. At the time of its release, I didn’t give it a great review, but hey—maybe one day I’ll learn not to compare everything to Back in Black.
Just before today’s announcement of Malcolm Young’s “break from the band”, Johnson was quoted in the U.K.’s The Telegraph as saying that AC/DC had booked time next month at a Vancouver studio.
“We’re going to pick up some guitars, have a plonk, and see if anybody has got any tunes or ideas,” he said. “If anything happens, we’ll record it.”
Plonk on, my earbustin’ buddies. Plonk on forever if you please.