50 years of AC/DC – It’s a long way to the top

Fifty years on, Uncut charts the early glammed-up days of Sydney's rock giants

Trending Now

IT’S A LONG WAY TO THE TOP …if you want to be the biggest hard rock band in the world. With AC/DC on the point of their 50th anniversary, Uncut charts their first steps. You join us in Sydney, Australia, where a major 1960s pop star is signing up new talent: including his younger brothers. From their dabblings in glam, to their first classic lineup, we learn how AC/DC’s audaciously simple sound was hewn from the rock, and their true leader emerged. “Malcolm had no ego,” one former member tells John Robinson. “He knew what he wanted. He wanted a great band,” in the latest issue of Uncut magazine – in UK shops from Thursday, January 12 and available to buy from our online store.

The photographs suggest he’s wearing a surgical gown and a top hat, but the drummer claims to have been in costume as a jester. The bass player has on a crash helmet, for he has come as a motorcycle cop. One of the guitarists is jump-suited and platform-booted.

Most strikingly, the lead guitarist is wearing a liberal interpretation of a school uniform, which has been made by his sister from velvet. It might not all sound like much, considering the cannons, bells and airborne women of their stage presentations since, but this – in April 1974, a support gig, staged on a swimming pool roof – is the first breakthrough moment in the history of AC/DC.


“We looked so colourful,” remembers Dave Evans (red striped jacket, cropped vest top), singer in the band’s original lineup. “At that time Australia was still in the hippy hangover, tie-dyed shirts and beards and so on. George Young, who was our producer, had a mind for what was going on in England and he had seen Slade. We had a big show coming up, and he asked us to have outfits made.”

So you embraced glam rock?

“Fuck off!” says Dave, down the line from the home of his Argentinian promoter. “No-one called it ‘glam’. It was a new and contemporary look. They wanted us to look modern, and like a British band. People wore those clothes when they went out on a Friday and Saturday night.”


This contrasted with the headline act for the event in Sydney’s Victoria Park: Flake. “We were a jeans band,” says Robert Bailey, Flake’s bass player. “Angus and Malcolm were in costume. The drummer was dressed like a wizard, the bass player like a biker. They were into that kind of thing: Gary Glitter, Marc Bolan, all that sort of stuff was rating well in Australia.”

As Dave Evans recalls it, the effect of AC/DC’s changed appearance was instantaneous. The band had been playing live since the start of 1974 and those among their following who made it to the park’s natural amphitheatre were impressed with AC/DC’s vibrant appearance. The real change, however, was in their lead guitarist.

“Something transformed in him,” says Dave. “Dressed as a schoolboy he wasn’t Angus Young any more; he was a character. He ripped it up! He ran across the stage, rolled on his back. We were looking at him, like “What?” All of a sudden he had an alter ego. The schoolboy outfit was the catalyst.”



Latest Issue