It was July 1979 and I was 10 years old. I had been listening to Powerage, High voltage, Let There Be Rock, Dirty Deeds, etc. For a couple years when my older brother Eddie played the just released “Highway To Hell”. This changed my life and continues to do so to this day. From the first track ”Highway To Hell” into “Girls Got Rhythm” to “Touch Too Much” which rolls into “Beating Around the Bush” and then “Night Prowler.” Really, I mean, this was not just a record but an awakening. It was the first time I felt like music could actually kick your ass, change your mood, and inspire you. This was the greatest rock record of all time to me and I didn’t care what anyone else was doing. Yes, I was listening to Ted Nugent, Led Zeppelin, ZZtop as well as other stuff which was great and there was the 80’s still to come, but this was in a class all by itself. I remember begging my mom to let me buy the “If You Want Blood You've Got It” record; believe me I had to beg. The cover said it all with Angus being stabbed through the guts with his Gibson SG. Blood all over the place. My Mom was not happy with the choice but it was my money and she figured I understood that literally murdering someone with a guitar was probably not really going to happen.
AC/DC would from that point forward shape in some way small or large every aspect of my life. Good and bad. For example, a party was not kicking ass unless AC/DC was playing on the boom box. I built up the courage to kiss a girl and grab her boobs at Skate King because “You Shook Me All Night Long” was pounding through the PA. A little pill named, “Black Beauty” was tossed down my throat like a piece of candy because the girl I was hanging out with said it went good with “Dirty Deeds”. I dressed up like Angus for Halloween in the 7th grade and was given a lecture about respect and maybe finding a better role model to emulate for Halloween. Guess what, I dressed up like Angus again just 2 years ago while my band played a Halloween show.
As 1979 became 1980 I couldn’t wait to see my first concert. Hopefully it would be AC/DC in all their glory with Bon Scott carrying Angus upon his shoulders. I was sure my mom would let me go since I was going to be with my brother. It would be quite the complete opposite as my brother and I heard Bon Scott had died from choking on his vomit in Feb. 1980. WTF.
I didn’t really get it so I just kept doing those things an eleven yr old does, play soccer, keep getting just good enough grades to stay in school, make the parents happy, fight with my brother , uno. But to our shock we heard AC/DC was releasing a new album with a guy named Brian Johnson, from a fairly unknown band of the name “Gordie”.
“Back in Black” would be released in July 1980 exactly 1 year after “Highway to Hell” and 5 months after Bon Scotts death. Holy shit, this is awesome and Bon Scotts mom blessed the album as well as encouraged the boys to move on. “Back in Black” would be a tribute to the late Bon Scott and go on to be the 3rd best selling record of all time behind only, Michael Jackson's “Thriller” and Pink Floyds “Dark Side Of The Moon”. AC/DC was no longer just my brother and I’s favorite band but now everyone I new growing up, would do so with AC/DC as their soundtrack.
“Back in Black” was surprisingly just as good in many ways as “Highway to Hell”. Their time line for me is much like Jesus Christ’s. It’s based on (BON era) and AD (after his Death). This is so appropriate given that they were the church that I prescribed to.
I had to start playing guitar eventually. Right? I learned some AC/DC riffs but I new that true happiness and honest playing could only come by being yourself and creating your own songs. Angus and Malcom did it, could I do it? So, as I grew up the question became. Could I some day with a Gibson guitar and a Marshall amp express myself in a similar way? Create honest, exposed, strong, non-apologetic rock-n-roll? The answer for me is that it’s an endless pursuit that I've been after since 1979. I may not have truly arrived there in grand fashion but I have experienced a few moments where I've said to myself, “this is good, Angus & Malcom would approve.”
So in 1980, I saw the greatest show on earth, AC/DC with Brian Johnson. 1981 brought the “For Those About To Rock” tour into town with canons and all. Then in 1983 “Flick Of The Switch”. They continued to be a part of my life even up to just a few years ago when I took my 14 year old son to the “Black Ice” tour along with my brother and we watched Angus rise from beneath the stage to an audience chanting, “ANGUS.. ANGUS.. ANGUS..” as he ripped into their most recent single off the record, “Rock-n-Roll Train”. I have goosebumps on the back of my neck just recalling that night. It’s like 1979 was just a couple years ago, except I’m a little heavier and Angus lost his hair.
My wife Angela has recently pointed out to me that AC/DC will be the main exhibit at the EMP Museum opening April 28th and would like to go for Mothers day. Thankfully I put the, “must be AC/DC fan” into our vows. I’m so lucky. Maybe next year for Mothers day we can go roller skating to the sounds of “Highway to Hell”.
Guitar player – The Hardcount
AC/DC: AUSTRALIA'S FAMILY JEWELS
Opens April 28, 2012 | EMP Seattle WA