10 Things You Didn’t Know About AC/DC

Things You Didn't Know About AC/DC

Photo: Photography Stock Ruiz / Shutterstock.com

AC/DC is a rock band formed in Sydney, Australia, in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. AC/DC has become one of the most popular hard rock acts of all time, with worldwide sales estimated to be well over 100 million units. They are also acknowledged as being among the pioneers of heavy metal and its eventual rise to mainstream popularity in the 1980s. Highway to Hell (1979), the band’s third album, was their top-selling disc with over 10 million copies sold. Although they were generally considered an “Australian” band, AC/DC had become one of the biggest hard rock acts in music history within two decades. Their song “Highway to Hell” became their best-known song; it was voted #31 in 2000 by VH1 on its list of the 100 greatest rock songs. AC/DC was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2003.

The group’s line-up had remained remarkably stable until 2014, when Malcolm Young retired from the band due to health issues (he died on 18 November 2017). With his departure, longtime drummer Phil Rudd was arrested for murder; Chris Slade later replaced him.

AC/DC underwent several line-up changes before releasing their first album, High Voltage, in 1975. Membership remained stable until Cliff Williams replaced bassist Mark Evans in 1977 for the album Powerage. In February 1980, a few months before the recording of their best-selling album, Back in Black, AC/DC’s singer Ronald Belford “Bon” Scott died after an all-night drinking binge. The group briefly considered disbanding, but Scott’s parents urged them to continue and hire a new vocalist. Ex-Geordie singer Brian Johnson was auditioned and selected to replace Scott. Later that year, AC/DC released their highest-selling album and international breakthrough, Back in Black. For Those About to Rock, We Salute You, The band’s next album cemented its position as the most popular hard rock act of the early 1980s.

AC/DC declined in popularity after drummer Rudd was fired in 1983 and replaced by future Dio drummer Simon Wright, and the group’s 1986 album Fly on the Wall received little notice. In 1988, AC/DC signed a new deal with Atlantic Records. The band returned to commercial success with The Razors Edge (1990), which revived their domestic fortunes in the United States and made them international stars. The band released their studio album, Power Up, on 7 October 2020. There is a lot to know about this band. Here are 10 Things You Didn’t Know About AC/DC:

# 1 – The Band Is Named After A Label On A Sewing Machine

Although it has never been officially confirmed, AC/DC supposedly named themselves after the label on a sewing machine owned by Malcolm Young’s sister. She often did her sewing when the siblings would get together to jam, which is how they initially started playing music together.

# 2 – Angus Didn’t Always Wear His Signature School Uniform Outfit

The band’s co-founder and lead guitarist, Angus Young, didn’t always wear his trademark school uniform onstage. He adopted the look after developing tonsillitis when AC/DC was touring in Europe in 1980. Because he couldn’t sing or speak properly for a while after contracting the illness, he only had one option: play guitar with his teeth! After seeing photos of Angus performing in this new fashion choice, AC/DC’s late lead singer Bon Scott encouraged him to keep it on because it fit his image better than their previous outfits – leather jackets and jeans.

# 3 – Researchers Are Using Their Music To Help Combat Cancer

AC/DC’s music has been found to have effects on cancer cells. Researchers at the University of South Australia used AC/DC songs, including “Back in Black,” which was ranked number 85 on Rolling Stone’s list of “100 Greatest Guitar Songs Of All Time,” in a study that tested how effectively the tunes could kill cancer cells. The scientists played AC/DC music for leukemia and breast cancer patients, who showed positive responses to the music, with many experiencing feelings of euphoria when listening to hit songs like “Thunderstruck.” This is because AC/DC uses a wide range of frequencies – from 20 hertz up to 12 kilohertz – thus making it effective against various types of cancers.

# 4 – AC/DC has sold nearly 71 million albums in the U.S. alone, making AC/DC one of the five top-selling bands in American music history

AC/DC is one of the most successful acts to ever come out of Australia, with an estimated net worth of $235 million as of 2016. They’ve topped charts worldwide and have even appeared on a postage stamp commemorating Australian culture. The group has released 16 studio albums and won six Grammy Awards, but they continue to achieve major milestones – like scoring their first No. 1 album on Billboard 200 chart with “Rock or Bust” last year.

# 5 – Sadly, founding member Malcolm Young had to bow out of the band in 2014 after losing a long-running battle with dementia

Malcolm Young – the rhythm guitarist, co-producer, and one of the band’s founders – was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six years ago. After struggling for months to continue playing alongside his younger brother Angus Young, AC/DC decided to call it quits in September 2014 following Malcolm’s retirement from the music industry. Malcolm stayed involved in producing AC/DC albums even after his diagnosis. However, he officially announced his retirement just before AC/DC kicked off their Rock or Bust World Tour in 2015 due to health reasons, leaving Angus as the only original member left in the group.

# 6 – They’ve had a lot of different members over the years

AC/DC was formed in 1973 by Angus Young and Malcolm Young, two brothers from Glasgow, Scotland. In 1975, the band recruited singer Bon Scott from rival local band Geordie. The line-up remained until 1979 when Scott died after choking on his vomit following a drinking binge in London. In 1980, the band hired English singer Brian Johnson at the behest of Angus Young.

# 7 – The brainwave for Angus Young’s characteristic school uniform came from his sister

Angus Young started wearing school uniforms because they were easy to wear on stage; he often played standing up, so he didn’t triplicate himself with guitar straps around his chest and back. He said his sister, a nun in the early days, wore a school uniform to classes. In an interview with VH1’s Behind the Music, Young mentioned that he liked how she looked in religious clothing.

# 8 – Their first lead singer died in 1980 in London:

In 1979, AC/DC began recording their next album, Back in Black, at London’s Roundhouse Studio. Singer Bon Scott and drummer Phil Rudd arrived at the studio impaired from alcohol consumption. They could not play for three hours while waiting for the engineers to finish mixing the tracks they had recorded earlier. The group decided to continue working without them after sleeping off their benders and finished the record. The album became a massive success for the band and has sold an estimated 50 million copies worldwide.

# 9 – Angus Young has played guitar while his amp was on fire

During a live performance at Sturgis, South Dakota, in 2003, Angus’ amplifier burst into flames mid-song, causing him to briefly shake it off as if nothing happened before running around to the back of the stage unplug it. He returned moments later to finish singing “Let There Be Rock.”

# 10 – They’ve been honored with street names and statues

In May 2015, and Angus Young statue was erected in his hometown of Glasgow. The three-meter tall sculpture is the first bronze bust made of the rock star and features him jumping off a wall while clutching his guitar. In 2016, Ormiston, Queensland, opened AC/DC Lane, where the band practiced in their early years. AC/DC are also honored with street names in Atlantic City’s new Boardwalk Hall Plaza alongside Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Bruce Springsteen, and Whitney Houston.


AC/DC is one of the most successful rock bands in history, with over an estimated 200 million albums sold worldwide. Through the years, the group maintained its signature sound and energetic live performances. Their songs such as “Back in Black,” “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” and “Highway to Hell” continue to be crowd favorites at their concerts.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About AC/DC article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021

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