As someone who considers himself something of a music scholar, who has worked in record shops most of his life, and writes about music professionally, I’m ashamed to admit that I only learned, like, JUST NOW that Bon Scott was not the first singer of AC/DC. I mean, I’m not an obsessive mega-fan or anything when it comes to the band, but I do own every one of their “classic era” albums from High Voltage up to Blow Up Your Video—even some of the Australian alternates. I feel like that’s enough of a level of fan commitment to make my ignorance about AC/DC’s early years unforgivable. Well, you learn something new every day. Hopefully you, like me, are also learning something new today.
Anyway, check out this footage of AC/DC from 1974. Here you have glam-as-fuck lead vocalist Dave Evans fronting the band, as well as drums by ex-Master’s Apprentices member Colin Burgess and bass guitar by ex-Easybeats member George Young (older brother of band co-founders Malcolm and Angus Young).
The band sounds a bit like The Sweet here.
The song, “Can I Sit Next to You, Girl,” was later re-recorded with Bon Scott on vocals for their Australia-only album T.N.T., released in December 1975, and on the international version of High Voltage, released in May 1976. The edgier Bon Scott version happens to be one of my favorite AC/DC songs of all time and if you were someone I dated in the 90s, you probably got a mixtape from me with that track on it.
The arrangement on this earlier version is a bit different, including shouted backing vocals on the final chorus which I actually prefer to the album recording with Scott.
This footage with Evans singing the track is actually quite phenomenal:
The song was released as AC/DC’s first single on EMI in Australia in 1974.
The B-side was “Rockin’ in the Parlour,” which is rather forgettable:
After recording the one single, the Young brothers decided to boot Evans from the group, reportedly for being too much of a “glam rocker like Gary Glitter.” He was replaced in short order by Bon Scott, who had previously performed with bubblegum pop band, The Valentines.
Here’s Bon, singing backups on “Build Me Up, Buttercup,” with The Valentines—which is almost comical, given his later bad-boy image:
As they say, “it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.”