You know how when you read an epic book, you sort of “re-live it” in your day to day life? I mean, lets say for example you’ve got The Lord of The Rings. The hobbits are making their way through the Mines of Moria, and you’re so damn absorbed you’ve lost all track of time. Then you look up for a moment, and reluctantly admit that you have to put down the book and go to work. But all day, even though you’re separated from the book, there is a “reality” in your own mind created by the “current goings-on” in the plot. You might be photocopying some documents, or pressing the “kerching!” button on the cash register, but in your head, you’re right there with those feisty little hobbits as they press ever-deeper into the bowels of that perilous mountain.
Well, I don’t want to blow this all out of proportion, but something similar has happened to me with AC/DC: Maximum Rock and Roll, by Murray Engleheart.
For the last six weeks, I’ve been working my way through this thick doorstop of a book, which painstakingly pieces together the band’s history. The book begins, in fact, prior to the formation of AC/DC, describing George Young’s struggles and triumphs with the Easybeats (George was Angus and Malcolm’s older brother, and has been a constant guiding force throughout their career).
It goes through the Bon Scott era, devoting whole sections to the back-story for each and every member of the band (and there are quite a few of them, since for various reasons, musicians were hired-and-fired on a regular basis…) Naturally, the book devotes quite a lot of detail to Bon’s death and the subsequent need to find a new singer. It then rounds off with a series of shorter chapters, about the Brian Johnson era of the 80s and 90s.
From reading Clinton’s biography of Bon, I already knew quite a lot about Bon’s own story and how he met his doom. But Clinton’s book finishes right there. After Bon’s death, it’s as if nothing else really matters. In fact, many fans assert that THERE IS NO AC/DC AFTER BON (saying things like: “The band died with Bon, man”; or “They’re the same band in name only”; etc etc.)
But Angus and Malcom DID press on. They did find a new singer, record new albums, go on new tours. And getting towards the end of Maximum Rock & Roll, I’m right there with them. Bon is well and truly dead, and they’re struggling to carry on with their lives. They’re experiencing commercial success beyond their wildest dreams, but they can never quite reach the dirty magic of the 1970s. Something has been lost. The band spends album after album trying to re-create that magic, but it’s beyond them. The spectre of the restless spark they had with Bon hangs over them constantly. Strangely, even though by now they’re considered in many circles the greatest rock and roll band in the world, they’ve lost all confidence in themselves. It’s actually very sad.
What makes this situation different from The Lord of the Rings, of course, is that the “characters” in Maximum Rock and Roll still exist in the real world today. There’s hope, then, that things might yet turn out differently – that the new album they’ve just finished recording will be some kind of master stroke which vindicates them for their years in the wilderness.
Or will there be a completely unexpected twist in the tale?
At the end of The Lord of the Rings, Frodo has to carry his precious burden all the way to Mount Doom. His mission is to destroy the very thing that makes him special, the gift that sets him apart from all the other hobbits, this ring that has been thrust upon him, and which has uprooted his blissfully ordinary life. What would happen to Frodo if he had failed to destroy the ring? Gollum, of course, is a walking talking slavering miserable embodiment of such a failure.
Can AC/DC throw their golden past into the fire? Can they destroy the very thing they hold most dear? Will they be transformed by the process and surprise us all?
Am I completely nuts carrying on with this gibberish?
Dear readers, the final chapters of Maximum Rock and Roll are still waiting to be written.
5 thoughts on “Epic Rock”
oh! speaking of books, I should mention that while I’ve been gobbling anything acca-dacca I can get my hands on, I ordered Susan Masino’s
memoir, The Story of AC/DC: Let There Be Rock thru Amazon.
Some of you might also have had the experience that Amazon books often come from little ma-and-pa bookshops who just list their stock through the big online seller.
Anyway, this happened to me – it turns out that my copy of the book is being sent by a guy called “Randy” somewhere in the US. There was a little confusion, since he thought “W.A.” meant “Washington” instead of Western Australia.
Randy took the time to email me personally about my choice of book! Such is the passion of AC/DC fans, eh? Here’s what he wrote:
Definitely one of your top posts. Especially since I’m a big Tolkien fan, too.
Ya.. Tolkien fan here too!
Also.. I’m halfway through Maximum Rock n Roll.. interesting read.. a little rough, since it’s pretty much small bits and pieces of stories and tales… I think of it as an impressionist’s painting… looking at it too closely may not be much fun… but standing back and taking it all in.. that’s the way to do it
It gives a good overall feel of what AC/DC is from many points and through many aspects
I was a close friend of Bons.I traveled with him and the band from 78 to 79.I have backstage photos to share,and great stories of us.A picture of him kissing his last girlfriend!? Yes! Have one!
Bon was a special person.His death rocked my world.
signed:ROLLS ROYCE ROGERS
Rolls Royce, that would be wonderful if you would share your photos and stories of you and Bon. I know us “Bon girls” would especially love to see that kiss!