RIP AC/DC

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It was back in 1989 or so when I heard my first AC/DC track. At the time, my dad was a garbage man and he would often bring home stuff he found in the garbage that was too nice to throw away. He picked up the garbage in a few very nice neighborhoods and often times they would toss out something a year old when they upgraded the following year, and my dad would jump on it. He would bring home nice TVs, radios, toys for us kids, and one day he brought home a cassette of High Voltage.

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My dad was cutting the grass in the back yard that day and he had the cassette in a tiny radio on the back porch, cranked up as high as he could get it, blasting AC/DC into the back yard while he mowed. I went outside to see my dad for the first time that day and was hit hard by what I heard. This was the first time I had heard AC/DC.

I’m not sure what track it was, but I knew instantly I was listening to something I wanted to listen to more of. It wasn’t long before he had told me all he knew about AC/DC and I was listening to his High Voltage cassette over and over again.

Eventually I started getting more of their albums, and then one day while at the store I saw their Live At Donington VHS. At that point I had no idea you could watch a band perform live on tape. I didn’t have to beg, my dad bought it instantly for me. I took it home and watched all 2 hours of it. Again. And again. And again. Suddenly I was a fan of a whole bunch of other songs by them that I hadn’t heard yet, and some new singer who didn’t sound like the guy I had come to know.

I looked at the dates on the albums I owned and then the date on the VHS and realized I had albums from the 70s and that concert was 1990. Clearly the singer I had heard from the 70s had gotten older and his voice had changed. I was too young and uninformed to know that legendary Bon Scott, AC/DCs first front man had passed away (just a couple months after I was born) and Brian Johnson had taken over. Even my dad hadn’t shared that info with me.

Because of Angus Young jumping and running around on stage like “a chinchilla on speed” (I read that in a review of them once) and playing the baddest music ever, I decided I wanted to play guitar. My dad bought me a guitar and signed me up for lessons. I have been playing the guitar for 20 years now.

I’m sure a lot of musicians get their start that way. I once wrote a paper on AC/DC in high school about how they were the greatest band of all time. I didn’t convince my teacher, but it was while writing that that I found out one of the first songs (if not the first) that Kurt Cobain learned to play on guitar was Back In Black. I would have paid tons of money to hear Nirvana cover an AC/DC tune.

I began collecting their albums on cassette. By my mid-teens I had begun to get their albums on CD, but I made sure to get everything on cassette as well, a collection I still have to this day. I even have a couple original printings of their albums on vinyl.

In 1995 AC/DC released Ballbreaker, their twelfth international album. There had been rumors the band was retiring and that this would be their last album. Our local radio station played the album from front to back the night before it was released in stores. My mom got it for me the next morning on her way to work. That night I listened to it from front to back, and at the end of the album I was pissed that it just ended. Surely if they were retiring they would have recorded a goodbye message for their fans, right? I was an idiot, but more so, I didn’t want them to retire.

That’s when I heard they were coming around in concert to promote Ballbreaker. I got my paycheck the day before tickets went on sale and had the money ready. The morning of I went to my local Ticketmaster, a counter at one of the local grocery stores in the area, a Thriftway, and I waited. I showed up an hour early because I wasn’t letting somebody have my ticket. Finally when they opened I bought two tickets, one for me and one for my dad. It cost me almost my entire paycheck, just about $90, and I discovered I was seventh row from the stage.

The day before the concert I came down sick, but that didn’t stop me. We drove to Louisville, KY to Freedom Hall (got lost on the way, made it in time), found our seats and watched one of the greatest concerts ever. A band called The Poor opened up for them (their drummer was Angus and Malcolm’s nephew) and they rocked hard. So hard, in fact, after the concert I went to a record store and had to special order their album, Who Cares, because it wasn’t available in the states. I still have it as well, and it rocks.

I do, The Poor, I do.

I do, The Poor, I do.

Then AC/DC came out and I wasn’t prepared for just how loud it was going to be. They blew up the place and after 2 hours we went home happy. Our ears were ringing, but it was worth it. At 16 I could die a happy guy.

A few years went on and there was no news about AC/DC. Nothing was happening. No albums were coming out. And then finally, in 2000, Stiff Upper Lip.

I had to work the day it came out, so I woke up early and went to the mall. I bought it and listened to it all day. I was delivering pizzas at the time, so I had a good time driving around that day jamming out. And then I heard they were coming around for another tour.

I gathered up two of my buddies and we all got tickets. Just like the previous experience, I went to the same Ticketmaster the day the tickets went on sale and I got there an hour early. I was the first one there. Just before Ticketmaster opened, a few other people showed up to get tickets and because of that, the manager came out and said they were going to have us draw numbers to see in what order we got our tickets.

WHAT THE EVER LOVING FUCK?! I WAS THERE FIRST!!!

Apparently the cosmos understood and it was meant to be, because I drew number one and got my tickets first. Once again I paid $45 per ticket… five years later. Awesome.

We went to the show and it was my one buddies first concert ever. He was a fan of loud music but I kept telling him he had never experienced music that loud. We were looking for our seats when the ticket usher guys kept telling us to go down closer and closer to the stage. The way the tickets had been printed we couldn’t tell exactly where we were located, so I literally had no idea just where we were sitting until we were shown to our seats… in the seventh row from stage.

Meant to be? Meant to be.

The coolest part of that show was a long walkway that stuck out from the middle of the stage and went through the crowd. Our seats were right up against that and there were only three seats, so we had our own row together right next to a ramp that Brian Johnson and Angus Young used repeatedly throughout the show. They were walking and rocking within 10 feet of us for 2 hours. At one point my buddy Danny got to shake Brian’s hand. I was so envious.

The opening band was Slash’s Snakepit. They were pretty good, and loud, and at one point Slash threw out his pick to the crowd. The lady in front of me didn’t notice or even attempt to catch it, and it landed on the floor under her chair. I still have it.

Back to AC/DC… when they started playing I looked at my buddy who had never been to a concert before, the one who liked loud music, and with a big smile on his face he mouthed “That’s LOUD!” Obviously I had to read his lips cause I couldn’t hear him. When the show was over, once again my ears were ringing. Once again my neck was stiff from head banging. Once again my voice was gone from screaming. What a great time.

As years went on I kept up on AC/DC through the internet. I haven’t seen them live since, but that’s okay. Two times is good for me. Besides, chances are I wouldn’t get seventh row, and I can’t break that streak.

I named my dog Angus after Angus Young. The love, it is real.

I’ve fallen in love with bands and musicians since. John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival are the next big one, and honestly they’re right up there with AC/DC. Bobby Bare Jr., for me, is awesome. I’m even a big fan of Motley Crue. But nobody will ever be AC/DC.

A band who has rocked out for so long, who is so legendary that the king of horror novels, Stephen King, not only writes about them in his books but had a movie made where the entire soundtrack was nothing but AC/DC, has done what few bands have done. They’ve survived. My dad once told me he respects any band that can last for twenty years. AC/DC has lasted twice that.

That’s why it’s with great sadness that I read, as I’m sure everybody else has, that AC/DC is retiring. I knew it wasn’t going to last forever. Hell, they’re getting to be old men. And honestly I thought they were already calling it quits. When their most recent tour was ending, Brian Johnson said he was going to retire from singing, and Malcolm Young said only if they let him.

I was a little upset by that, but I understood, and I was happy for them. I honestly didn’t think it would last, but even if it did, cool. They’ve earned it.

And then recently I read that Brian Johnson, in an interview, said how the boys (the Young brothers) were writing new songs for a new album and how they were going to do something big for their 40th anniversary. Talk about stoked! That’s amazing! I couldn’t wait for more music…

… and then I read today on Facebook’s trending section how rumors were saying AC/DC were going to retire because of Malcolm’s failing health. WHAT?!

One of the reports making heavy rounds on the net now over this is this one, where it says…

When AC/DC reunited at the start of April to begin a month of rehearsals, in the lead-up to new album recording sessions, Malcolm discovered he couldn’t play. At least, he couldn’t play like he used to play.

Nothing has been officially confirmed, as of this writing, but friends and family members have been discussing what happened to Malcolm for the past couple of weeks. The blood clot, resulting from the stroke, is believed to be why Malcolm couldn’t keep working.

Although friends have described Malcolm’s condition as serious, it doesn’t mean he won’t recover. People do get better after strokes, and people do recover lost skills.

But friends and family of band members believe the decision was made last week to call it quits.

Media in Australia have gone ballistic today on rumours of The End Of AC/DC, and it appears the news got out ahead of a planned official announcement from the band and management.

Right now, that announcement is expected Wednesday, April 16, and a press conference has been scheduled.

Please check out the link, if you’re interested in more, as the rest of the article is an excellent read.

When I read it I had a tear or two in my eyes. Again, I didn’t care if they were retiring. They’ve been around 40 awesome years, they’ve dominated the world (and me) and they’ve become legendary. Nobody will ever do what they’ve done, ever. Love them or hate them, they have influenced music time and time again, and probably multiple other bands you listen to. They’ve earned retirement.

But not like this. I feel horrible for Malcolm, and his family. I hope him the very best, and a speedy recovery. I don’t care for another album, or another tour. His music has made my life what it is. It has rocked me out, cheered me up, calmed me down, pumped me up, and made my ears ring on two separate occasions. He put out great music that has had my head bobbing and my toe tapping for most of my life. He should be able to get a normal retirement. Not a stroke.

Good luck Malcolm Young, you are a true rock hero and legend, and I hope you the very best. Don’t focus on a new album or a tour or getting back to playing, which you quite obviously love to do. Just focus on you and do what you have to do to be well. Thanks for the tunes.

As for the rest of you, I share this. I decided to put this as my profile pic on Facebook. If you’re interested in doing the same, to show your love and support for a speedy recovery for Malcolm, you can right click on it and save it.

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6 responses to “RIP AC/DC

  1. AC/DC is one of the most rockin groups evah. Stroke is a fucking bastard. It took one of my friends last week. He was 41. I do hope Malcom recovers…fuck you stroke.

    How awesome that you play guitar!

  2. I saw this yesterday. I hope he recovers. I’m not an avid fan as you are, but I do like some of their music. It sucks when shit like this happens to anyone.

  3. I saw them live, too, 1986-87? I dunno, my cousin took me, and my mother made me wear ear plugs, which was alright, because TWENTY-ONE-GUN-SALUTE! Holy crap! They were awesome!
    I grew up in a house that treated music like religion. It stuck.

  4. Pingback: AC/DC Rides On | Beefy's House o' Fun

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