“I always liked AC/DC, alright?" - Keith Richards (2004)
I have been following AC/DC’s career since seeing them (with Bon Scott) in 1978. This was nothing more than good luck on my part, as I had never heard of them before. Highway To Hell was still a few months away from release, and the band were playing every gig they could get.
This one happened to be one of those great Seventies triple bills, featuring Ted Nugent, Cheap Trick, and AC/DC. The crowd buzz on AC/DC was that they were a punk band. It sounds hilarious today, but at the time it made a certain amount of sense. After all, they didn’t look or act like any of the stereotypical heavy metal bands of the era. You gotta remember, in 1978 even Tom Petty was considered "punk" by some.
Anyway, what I remember most about that show was how the band completely won over the crowd. This was an audience who started out indifferent at best, and outright hostile to these perceived “punks” at worst. By the end of their 40-minute set, AC/DC owned Seattle. So much so that when Highway To Hell was released, the Pacific Northwest became one of their key U.S. markets.
Bon Scott barely had a chance to enjoy the band’s first flush of success, drinking himself to death in 1980. As even the most casual rock fan can tell you, AC/DC recruited Brian Johnson, and went on to massive multi-platinum triumphs with albums such as Back In Black, For Those About To Rock, and The Razor's Edge, among others.
I have seen AC/DC with Brian Johnson a number of times, and the band’s shows are always great. The spectacle they are able to mount as one of the biggest bands in the world is impressive to say the least. But there always seems to be that moment in the bar before the show, or standing in line, when The Question comes up: “So who do you like better, Bon or Brian?“
Curmudgeon that I am, I have always stuck by Bon, even though he was only in the band for six years, while Johnson has been around for nearly 30. When pinned down my stock answer has been simple: "Only Bon Scott could write lyrics as twisted as those of “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” as funny as “Big Balls,” or as scary as “Jailbreak.”