Saturday morning found me in Rozelle, a suburb of Sydney famous for its fleamarket. Lizzie was on the lookout for a mirror for her room. I didn’t really have anything in particular to search for, except a ceramic butter dish, which we’ve been hunting for ages (those things are rare!) So I just nosed around half-heartedly, while Lizzie tried on some jeans.
Since I started the Bon Scott Blog, I have been flipping through records at second hand shops, not in any disciplined way, just “on the off chance something might come up”. It never does. Somehow I get the impression that, like Stevo the collector, AC/DC fans keep a firm grip on their old vinyl.
So at Rozelle, of course, there were a few record stalls, and of course I had a shuffle through the boxes. As expected, no AC/DC. But I did start to turn up some records that were circulating around the time Bon joined the band and they started to have success…
Stevie Wright – Hard Road (1974)
Stevie was in the Easybeats, the famous Aussie rock band from the 1960s who recorded “Friday on My Mind”. George Young and Harry Vanda were also in the Easybeats. George is the older brother of Angus and Malcolm, and the Vanda/Young team produced most of AC/DC’s records. Hard Road was released by Alberts, also AC/DC’s record label. Get the connection?
Stevie’s Hard Road came out in 1974, the year Bon joined AC/DC. It contains a 3 part “rock epic” called Evie which stretches to 11 minutes. It’s famous (as in “Evie, Evie, Evie let your hair hang down”!)
The cover shows a rough and earnest young man with a scruffy beard looking thoughtful in front of the surf. He is equally earnest in this brief interview shortly following the death of Bon Scott (“I know the power of alcohol and drugs, and I know that it can take anybody…”), and somewhat less earnest in this TV gig on Countdown in 1975 (prancing around on stage amongst screaming teenagers… did Bon borrow some of his performance style from Stevie?)
After Bon’s death, some people were betting that Stevie would be called up as a replacement singer for AC/DC, but it never happened:
On “Countdown” Molly Meldrum was sprouting that Stevie Wright would replace Bon in AC/DC. It seemed an obvious conclusion to jump to, but Alberts quickly stood on it. “We don’t know where he got that from,” a spokesperson said, “but there’s absolutely no truth in that rumour. Stevie’s got his own thing to do, and AC/DC have theirs.” Stevie’s “thing” was his heroin addiction, which had effectively seen him frozen out of Alberts altogether. (from page 310 of Clinton’s book…)
Ted Nugent – Weekend Warriors (1978)
In 1979, AC/DC played to a sellout crowd at Madison Square Gardens with Ted Nugent (a fact I gleaned from reading Murry Engleheart‘s book). Apparently he was enormously popular, although I must admit I had never heard of him before myself. But I loved this album cover. Ted, clad in his crisp white high-waisted flairs and braces clutches a black electric guitar whose neck transforms into a double barrelled rifle! According to the ever-reliable wikipedia, Ted is well known for his conservative political views, specifically on hunting, so the guitar-gun may not just be a snazzy piece of album art…
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – Damn the Torpedos (1979)
There’s no real link here. Except that this album came out in 1979, at the peak of the Bon Scott era AC/DC. Actually, when I was a teenager I had a cassette of Damn the Torpedos, which I loved, and somewhere along the line I lost it. If anyone can find any further connections between Petty and Scott, I’d be interested to hear ’em! (They both write rock songs? C’mon, there must be more than that!)
Whitesnake – Ready an’ Willing (1980)
Ready an’ Willing came out in the year Bon died. With Brian Johnson at the helm, AC/DC headlined some gigs with Whitesnake in 1980. Whitesnake was formed by musicians from Deep Purple. There is also a Deep Purple connection:
[at the] 1975 Sunbury festival, held over the Australia Day long weekend at the end of January. Like The Easybeats before them, AC/DC didn’t take crap from anyone, and when overseas headliners Deep Purple refused to let AC/DC follow them, a fist-fight erupted on stage, with AC/DC, George Young and their roadies shaping up against Deep Purple’s entourage. AC/DC eventually left without playing. (thanks to Milesago for the quote.)
There is an amusing debate going on over here about “who writes better lyics, AC/DC or Whitesnake”. My favourite snippet from that discussion (if you can call it that) is this:
Whitesnake is more able to present love and human emotion with that impressive blues-guitar edge, while AC/DC gives you that energy and devil-may-care bravado that some of us identify with in our ids. They also have the blues figured out, but sound like they aren’t ready to sit down and discuss it while the party’s still going.
The guy from the record stall at the Rozelle markets looked at the Whitesnake album. “Hmm, they’re still around, aren’t they?” I seemed to remember hearing something about them coming on tour, although it obviously hadn’t made a big impact on me. Later in the day, I passed the Enmore Theatre with my friend Jessie. The Whitesnake poster was still up. They’d played just the night before.
So there you have it! My foray into collecting vinyl begins. Now all I need is a record player…