AC/DC rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young (RIP) taken outside the Bel-Air Motel in Springfield, Illinois in 1979. Though he kind of looks like a teenager, Young was 26 at the time.
Aussie rock leviathans AC/DC have been a band (in one form or another) since their formation in 1973 by the recently departed Malcolm Young and his younger brother Angus in Sydney. The band were pretty popular in Australia, even in their earliest days and would make their way to the U.S. for the first time in the summer of 1977 to play a series of gigs at the famous Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas at the behest of promoter Jack Orbin. Orbin was instrumental in bringing hard rock and metal acts like Judas Priest and the Scorpions to Texas early on and famously bailed Ozzy Osbourne out of jail after he was locked up for pissing on the Alamo Cenotaph—a gigantic statue which memorializes the Battle of the Alamo and the lives of the 189 Texans who died there. History lessons aside, their debut deep in the heart of Texas in 1977 would mark the beginning of AC/DC’s riffy rise to the top of rock ‘n’ roll mountain.
Just like other major rock acts, AC/DC has toured relentlessly for decades, continuing on after the death of vocalist Bon Scott in February of 1980 and the departure/dismissal of vocalist Brian Johnson in 2016. Perhaps you’ve even heard the rumor that the band might be mulling over the idea of bringing in Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses to replace Johnson on an upcoming album and subsequent tour, something that Australian author and noted authority on AC/DC Murray Engleheart was very sure about after Rose stepped in for Johnson in 2016. I don’t know how all these shake-ups are going to shake out but I am sure of this—it’s never a bad idea to take a look back at the history of a band that quite literally changed rock and roll for the better with their enduring battle cries about sex, booze, the devil and spot-on reflections of the occupational hazards of the perpetually shirtless rock-god lifestyle.
Calling to mind Jeff Krulik‘s Heavy Metal Parking Lot, most of the images below are of the band intimately fraternizing with their fans in spring of 1979 in the parking lot of the Bel-Air Motel in Springfield, Illinois during the If You Want Blood tour. I also included a few staggering live shots of the band and their rabid fans which help to further perpetuate the notion that AC/DC has always had some of the most dedicated fans in the world—something that hasn’t changed to this day and probably never will. Lastly, many of the images of Bon Scott in this post were taken during the final year of his life making them a rather poignant glimpse into the end of an era of AC/DC which all legitimate fans of the band revere. Devil horns out!
A photo of Bon Scott flanked by Angus Young performing their first ever gig in the U.S. at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas on July 27, 1977.
Fans losing their minds at an AC/DC show in mid-to-late 1970s.
Scott and Malcolm Young signing records and other items for their fans in the parking lot of the Bel-Air Motel in Springfield, Illinois 1979.
Angus and AC/DC super fan Wade, in Springfield, Illinois. According to legend, in 1979 a bunch of fans drove 100 miles from St. Louis to see the band but the show was sold out. Instead they decided to hang out in the parking lot of the Bel-Air Motel to see if they could catch a glimpse of their idols. Not only did they get to hang out with AC/DC, the band also gave them backstage passes for the show that night.
Angus, super-fan Wade, and Bon.
Angus in ACTION. Pictured in the bottom of the photo is Fifa Riccobono the “Godmother” of the Australian music industry.
Another photo of a young Malcolm Young hanging out in Springfield, Illinois.
A photo of Angus Young taken by a fan in Springfield, 1979.
Bon and Angus and a couple of lucky fans, late 1970s.
Bon Scott hanging out in the Bel-Air Motel parking lot with fans in Springfield, Illinois.
Angus held up by the crowd in 1978.
A fan backstage with Angus in 1978.
Angus in Springfield in 1979.
A group of Bon Scott’s most dedicated fans in the front row of a show in Moorabbin, Victoria in the mid 1970s.
Trace Rayfield swilling beer with Bon Scott in the band’s room at the Bel-Air Motel. Bon’s groupie of the night is pictured in the upper-right corner of the photo.
Two more fans that made the trip from St Louis, Mark (far left) and Trace Rayfield (pictured inbetween Angus and Bon) from the magical day they spent in the parking lot of the Bel-Air Motel in Springfield, Illinois with AC/DC.
Wade and Bon Scott.
Uster Hall in Belfast, Ireland 1979.
Angus and Wade in the parking lot of the Bel-Air Motel in Springfield, Illinois in 1979.
Bon Scott onstage at the Hordern Pavilion in Australia on December 12th, 1976.
Footage of AC/DC performing “Live Wire” in Paris 1979.
HT: Haggis Buffet
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Blistering footage of a young AC/DC blowing the roof off the sucker in 1978
Glamtastic footage of AC/DC *before* Bon Scott
Raw footage of AC/DC killing it at an Australian high school 40 years ago (& Bon Scott’s bagpipes!)
Photos of AC/DC live at CBGB’s in 1977
AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson’s balls out metal vocals for a Hoover vacuum commercial in 1980