The first time I heard AC/DC was on the local Rock radio station when I was about 8 years old…..yeah, I go way back! I heard this powerful guitar play the heaviest riff (didn’t know what a riff was back then!) and then the singer came on and the guy couldn’t sing. It was like he was shrieking into the microphone! The one thing I did know was that the song I was listening to was cool…..that song was ‘Back in Black’. I started out at the beginning of the Brian Johnson era with AC/DC and I was finding it hard to understand what was so cool about a singer that couldn’t sing and a new album with a plain black cover. I laugh about it now but at 8 years old I just had no clue! I didn’t even know that AC/DC had a different singer (Bon Scott) and that he had died just a few months prior. This was part of the innocence, or ignorance, of my youth.
I spent hours at my local record stores pouring over vinyl to look at the covers and then buying the cassette version. My first AC/DC album was bought in 1981 and it was BACK IN BLACK. I remember it like yesterday because I was looking through the new albums and there was this new AC/DC album with a cannon on the cover (FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK…WE SALUTE YOU) and I decided that if I was going to listen to AC/DC, I’d better start with BACK IN BLACK. Now I had already heard the whole BACK IN BLACK album, I just didn’t own it. I was lucky to have some older kids living across the street and they were the “rockers” of the neighborhood. They used to sit on their front porch with their friends and listen to tapes all day and smoke cigarettes. Back in those days, us kids were always outside, especially on weekends and in the summer, so I always tried to get the kids my age to play ball closer to the guys playing the music. That idea didn’t always work but sometimes I would get a hit and make it to third (the driveway of this particular house) and I would groove to the tunes these denim clad guys were playing. One day, I was the only kid outside and I decided to actually cross the street and ask if these guys liked AC/DC. These guys were all in high school, 8 to 10 years my senior, so I was a bit afraid but they ended up playing me the BACK IN BLACK album.
Anyway, I ended up buying FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK a few months later and then I bought FLICK OF THE SWITCH (1983) and FLY ON THE WALL (1985) when they came out. At this point I wasn’t really into the older AC/DC albums with the original singer, the current AC/DC was my AC/DC. My first album of the Bon Scott era was HIGHWAY TO HELL (1979) because I always heard the title track on the radio. I knew it word for word and I liked it so I decided to grab it when I bought the WHO MADE WHO (1986) soundtrack. It was like two different bands but also the same. After that, I was hooked on the Bon Scott era and I slowly collected all the older AC/DC albums. Today I tend to lean more towards the Bon Scott era.
AC/DC has been an important band for me because of the way I first heard them on the radio and outside on the neighbor’s porch. I wish it was still that way today! When was the last time you saw a group of teenagers huddled around a boombox or stereo listening to the newest albums? Ask kids today and they are either playing video games or surfing the Net while music is playing as background noise. Same goes for radio…..when was the last time you heard a song so distinct and so cool on the radio? Seriously, today’s radio is more about repeating the same playlist loop over and over to give the listener something to hear in between commercial breaks. It wasn’t like this back in my childhood and I will always remember hearing bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and AC/DC for the first time the way I did.