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AC/DC: Australian heavy metal band. Formed in Sydney in 1973 by the brothers Angus Young (b Glasgow [Scotland], 31 March 1955; guitar) and Malcolm Young (b Glasgow [Scotland], 6 Jan 1963; guitar), its best-known line-up stabilized in 1975 with Mark Evans (b Melbourne, 2 March 1956; bass); Phil Rudd (b Melbourne, 19 May 1954; drums) and Bon Scott (Ron Belford Scott; b Kirriemuir [Scotland], 9 July 1946 d East Dulwich [London], 19 Feb 1980; vocals). Cliff Williams (b 14 Dec 1949) replaced Evans in 1977, and upon Scott's death, he was replaced by Brian Johnson (b 5 Oct 1947). By 1976, they were Australia's leading rock band and decided to move to London in the hope of broader success, which they achieved in the UK and the USA by the end of the decade. They are known for crude, rowdy and sometimes juvenile lyrics that celebrate excess, transgression and communal bonding, delivered through very hoarse, sometimes screaming, vocals. Their music is blues-based, displaying few of the Baroque influences that strongly affected most heavy metal bands. It is usually built around riffs that are primarily chordal and rhythmic rather than melodic. Their ensemble work is both forceful and precise, featuring effective use of the two guitars for complementary rhythm parts. Their most popular and critically-respected album was Back in Black (Atl., 1980), which sold more than ten million copies.
Glasgow couple William and Margaret Young encouraged their children to play music. They moved to Sydney, Australia, in 1963. Their eldest son Alexander Young remained in Britain. Renamed George Alexander, he formed the band Grapefruit.
Another son, George Young (Junior) had a starring role in The Easybeats before moving into production. A younger brother, Malcolm, was inspired to try music, joining an act called Velvet Underground (no relation to the Lou Reed act). Their younger brother Angus formed his own group, Tantrum, and AC/DC in 1973.
There have been dozens of Web sites (a) repeating possible name sources, nearly all with sourcing of the sort "I think I heard this" or "a friend told me that" or (b) speculating on possible satanic connections when the group has repeatedly denied them. Of course most of these Internet items are written by fans who can't directly go to the band, like a journalist can, to get answers (so I did). But most can presumably read - even if they can't spell or write grammatically - so they've only to read books such as this to get the answer. It seems their research never extends beyond the Internet, or even as far as checking out some of AC/DC's old TV interviews which give answers.
The name source: "AC/DC" came from a household appliance. The question is, which: a vacuum cleaner or a sewing machine? There's a dispute over who owned the machine - the Youngs' mother Margaret or sister, also called Margaret? Then there are contradictory reports over who noticed it (Angus and his sister Margaret are the people most often cited) and who came up with the name (Margaret, Angus, Malcolm, another relative?)
AC/DC confirmed to the author comments made for a VH-1 interview. Malcolm says the name came from sister Margaret's sewing machine.
The meaning: There's agreement that the moniker was chosen because of its believed electrical connotations. AC/DC means "Alternating Current/Direct Current" to indicate that an electrical device can use either type of power. The brothers felt it summed up the raw energy and power-driven performances they aimed for.
In some countries, including Australia, AC/DC was and is also known as a slang term for bisexuality. Malcolm said he didn't know this in 1973: "It wasn't widely used." AC/DC made it with singer Bon Scott's macho image and emphasised the electrical theme through albums such as Powerage.
The early AC/DC songs didn't contain any especially evil meanings, and even the later ones - hard rock bands such as AC/DC were accused of interest in the occult and devil worship - can usually be explained easily. (Highway To Hell, for instance, from a disastrous tour.) The critics suggest "AC/DC" means "Anti-Christ/Devil's Child(ren)", "Anti-Christ/Devil Christ" or "After Christ/Devil Comes". These look badly-fabricated attempts by religious groups to unfairly besmirch the group.
Tribute bands include BC/DC, from British Columbia, and AC/DShe, an all-female San Francisco version.
The name's said one letter at a time "A-C-D-C", "Ay-cee-dee-cee" for English speakers. In Australia "Acca-dacca" is an often-used alternative.
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