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Purden of Richard
As far as the redemption of rock ‘n’ roll goes, the return of AC/DC earlier this year was as similar to the original lineup as you can get unless you raise the dead. The possibility of permanent hearing loss caused singer Brian Johnson to stop touring on medical advice with the band in 2016. For the remainder of the “Rock or Bust” tour, he was replaced by Guns N ‘Roses frontman Axl Rose. After making headlines with a drug charge, longtime drummer Phil Rudd also came back to the band. Since trying to kill a former assistant in 2014, he was already serving an eight-month jail term at home. Bassist Cliff Williams had already quit, indicating that AC/DC was now a “changed animal.” It seemed that his brother Angus was the last man to stand after the band’s engine, Malcolm Young, resigned for health reasons in 2014.
Malcolm’s death was confirmed in November 2017 at the age of 64 after suffering from dementia. For the estranged members of AC/DC to get back together, his funeral proved to be a catalyst. Frontman Brian Johnson acknowledges that there was something beyond the band, amid sickness, personal issues and retirement, that made it clear that they would come together one more time to record “Power Up” as a tribute to Malcolm, who gets songwriting credit on every track. Since rehearsals started in 2018, his original inspiration, ideas and disciplined riffs have powered the spirit of AC/17th DC’s album, much as when he formed the band with his brother in 1973.
AC/DC has not coped with the absence of an integral member of the band for the first time: 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the death between 1974 and 1980 of Bon Scott, their singer, who was responsible for co-writing and singing songs such as Whole Lotta Rosie, Let There Be Rock and Highway To Hell. As a tribute to Scott, Back In Black, one of the best-selling albums of all time with over 50 million copies sold, was released.
Just when AC/DC had hit the height of rock music, when he was found dead in a Renault 5 on a freezing night in East Dulwich, London, at the age of 33, Scott met a grisly end. Because of alcohol poisoning, his death was reported as “death by misadventure” but the fact that he was discovered off the beaten path, attracted questionable hangers-on and lived an unbridled rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, with a number of books and articles looking into the circumstances surrounding his final hours, led many to ask questions.
AC/DC had moved from Australia for their first appearance on British soil just four years ago. At Napier College’s student union in Sighthill, Edinburgh, it was a last-minute deal to give the three Scottish-born members an opportunity to visit family before performing a showcase gig in London. Angus and Malcolm Young were born on the Cranhill estate in Glasgow’s East End and left to start a new life in Australia on the so-called “ten-pound-pom ticket.” at the ages of 8 and 10, respectively.
It is these early Scottish roots that produced a commitment in the brothers and their older brother George, who had hits like Friday On My Mind with The Easybeats and later with Love Is In The Air with his songwriting partner Harry Vanda. In 1997, Malcolm Young commented on those early Scottish roots: “We came from a very poor family in Glasgow and the reason we went there [Australia] was because my father was unemployed. For years, he was unemployed. It was an opportunity. There were job opportunities, and we were all on our way to the next thing you know.”
“The truth is that we were put in immigrant housing when we got there. I’m not saying it’s bad, but the situation with the bare necessities was very tenuous, and it was raining for six weeks straight, and snakes were crawling on the surface. We were going home, we wanted. But the night we arrived, when we saw both our parents weeping, we took strength from that and tried to hold on.
When Bon was six years old in 1953, Bon Scott’s mother Isa and father Charles both left Kirriemuir. There are many tributes to the AC/DC frontman in town today. My first stop in Angus town is at Visocchi’s, where workers wear black AC/DC T-shirts with the famous red lettering and the logo of the lightning bolt.