How AC/DC’s Angus Young Adopted the Schoolboy Image
In a previously unpublished interview, the now late Malcolm Young explained how the band first came together and what drove his brother Angus Young to adopt what became his iconic AC/DC schoolboy image.
The interview aired under Amazon Prime's Coda Collection channel, which hosts music documentaries and concert films, offering a glimpse inside the early career of the powerhouse rock group.
Prior to AC/DC's formation, the Young brothers had separate interests in rock music and were following their own individual pursuits before they joined forces and eventually became one of the most successful bands in history.
"We never really played together," said Malcolm. "I was more into The Beatles and [Rolling] Stones, and Angus was more into the heavier stuff — [Jimi] Hendrix and Cream — with the lead guitar," he continued, noting, "I used to listen to songs as songs — the drums, the vocal, the music side of it. I tended to pick up on the chords, the whole picture around the guitar."
"It just happened at one point when I was putting together a band. We were going to get a keyboard player, but I got Angus instead (laughs). Angus had his own band, a little rock outfit, but they just packed it in. He told me they were finished, and I said, 'Come down tomorrow and have a bash.' We were going to play rock ‘n’ roll, it was simple as that," Malcolm went on.
Even this early on, other members of the Young family realized that merely getting up onstage and playing rock music wasn't going to be enough and that something else was needed in order to attract extra attention and also establish common ground with the audience.
"When Angus came in, it was a big piece," Malcolm acknowledged before discussing how the schoolboy idea was introduced.
"He hadn’t come into his stage act yet. George [Young] and my sister helped him a lot with that. They said, 'You gotta have a gimmick, Angus.' They thought a good act always had something people could relate to," the rhythm guitarist detailed, adding, "My sister said, 'Why don’t you get your school uniform with the shorts?'"
"She knocked that up for him and this little guy became larger than life," said Malcolm of the instant transformation. "Believe me, he can fire up. It’s not an act. He takes it on full. I don’t think anyone could become that intense method acting. That’s what people expect and he does it. Even I don’t know how he gets himself into that state," he admitted.
The next big step in AC/DC's rise to the top came when the band made a change up front, ousting singer Dave Evans in favor on Bon Scott. In that same interview, Malcolm complimented Scott as someone who "took charge," also stating that, as someone older than the rest of the members of the band, with age also came experience, which was quite helpful for the young rockers.
"We’d written one or two songs, and he encouraged us to write more. He’d say, “I’ve got an idea about that motherfucking wife I’ve left: ‘She’s Got Balls.’” We’d already written some tracks, but when he came in, we had the voice of experience. We kept our ears wide open. He pushed us a little further," Malcolm testified.
Regarding Evans, he lamented, "The first singer, people cheered when he left, so we could jam. He was so bad. Bon was in a week later. He had songs, ideas, motivation. He’s serious. We were happy to be with someone like that. We were just happy to be playing. He had bigger plans."
Earlier this year, a 25-minute interview recording with Scott from October of 1976 surfaced. In that conversation, the singer disclosed how he joined the group. He was working as a chauffeur, shuttling bands to shows around town, one of them being AC/DC.
"This was the first band I worked with and they knew I was sort of a screamer," said Scott, "and they knew I was out of work and they hated the guy they had singing for them then, so they offered me a job."
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