Malcolm and Angus Young were the brains behind the AC/DC band, although Angus attributed the band’s formation to Malcolm. In 2014, the band announced that Malcolm would be retiring due to his dementia, and in 2017, he passed away. Till his dying breath, Malcolm enjoyed listening to the strum of a guitar, and Angus would play for him whenever he visited him in the nursing home. However, the beat must go on, and on November 13, 2020, the band released its 17th album, “Power Up.” The journey of the band would not be possible without their older brother, George Young. So, let’s take you back to how the band was started and the mystery behind the AC/DC logo.
The Band Formation
The Young family moved from Scotland to Australia in 1963 during a cold winter, and according to Music Trust, the incentive was an assisted immigration scheme. They had lived in perpetual poverty since their father was continuously unemployed. The winter was the worst recorded in history, and with temperatures dipping to the subzero range, the family took advantage of the discounted one-way tickets.
At the time, the large family of seven children and their two parents had to live in a tin hostel. George formed a band, Easybeats, and practiced in the laundry room. Their hard work yielded fruits because, within two years, they had signed a record deal. They released Australia’s first international hit, “Friday On My Mind.” In 1966, the band moved to the UK thanks to their international success, but it was short-lived. In 1969, the Easybeats broke up, and to make matters worse, the band was heavily indebted.
While George was dealing with his band’s massive flop, his brothers were in school and not doing very well. Malcolm had had his chance at Glasgow school and was always involved in fights. Angus joined the same school, and unfortunately, Malcolm’s precedence was not in his favor. Angus was caned on the very first day to teach him a lesson against fighting. Seeing that the Young family did not have a good reputation, at only 15, Angus was given an ultimatum; to leave the school or be kicked out. However, all this was destiny aligning the brothers’ stars because when George went back to Australia in 1973, he asked his two brothers to join him in forming a new band. By then, their sister Margaret had a sewing machine in which “AC/DC” was inscribed to mean alternating current/direct current. They took up the initials as their band’s name hence “AC/DC” was born.
Becoming a Renowned Band
In November 1973, the band came to be, and they had other people join the in various capacities; among them was Dave Evans, the lead vocalist. Unfortunately, he did not last more than a year because Malcolm and Angus felt his voice did not reflect rock music. The band manager agreed and replaced Evans with Bon Scott in September 1974. They toured the country and relocated to Melbourne, and with the help of George and Harry Vanda, George’s co-writing partner, AC/DC released an album every year. The record breaking album was “High Voltage,” which was released within ten days in October 1974.
They had stabilized by then, each taking on their specific act: Malcolm and Angus were the guitarists, Scott was the vocalist, Mark Evans was on the bass while Michael Rudd was on the drums. Their debut hard rock gig was in mid-August 1974, and Michael Browning was looking for new talent. He called Michael Chugg, a Sydney-based promoter who recommended AC/DC, saying that it was a band formed by younger brothers of George Young. George already had set the pace, and Browning took a chance on the brothers hoping they could deliver an electrifying performance.
Angus donned a school uniform, which was suggested by his sister Margaret. According to the New York Post interview Angus did in 2000, Margaret had told him that wearing his old school uniform would make him memorable. The guitarist seemed like he was having a seizure, but it later dawned on Browning that it was part of Angus’s act. He had once tripped over while performing and, to avoid the public humiliation started shaking his head around, and it became part of his performance. That night Browning could not wait to manage the band; he paid them $200 and immediately booked them for more nights. Browning asked to be the band’s manager in mid-October, and unfortunately, he came to realize later that instead of signing on a band, he had agreed to manage a clan.
Is the Logo Satanic?
From the different interviews that the Young brothers did, they said that the band name originated from their sister’s sewing machine alternating current /direct current symbol. Instead of the forward-slash symbol between “AC” and “DC” in the logo, there is a lightning bolt symbol. The logo was first used in 1977 in the band’s “Let There Be Rock” album. Since then, it has been in use and was designed by Bob Defrin, Atlantic Records creative art director, and Gerard Huerta, a reputable graphic designer. It is said that the red color symbolizes passion and energy, which the band members always display, while the black color represents courage and excellence.
However, not everyone is convinced the sewing machine inspired the logo. According to some sources, AC/DC stands for “Antichrist/Devil’s Children” and even news reports circulated the rumor. Although fans tried to dispel these rumors, the band did not help their case. First came the album “Highway to Hell” followed by songs that only made religious people think of the worst. The album cover of “Highway to Hell” made matters worse: Angus had horns on his head and his right hand held on to a tail. Bob Scott donned a necklace with the five-pointed star pendant. Brian Johnson was also under fire in 2011 after claiming that all religions are evil and that Jesus was not the son of God but a very clever man. He added that all religions make money and cause war and death. The lightning in the logo could probably represent the electrifying performances they give. Then again, those who believe the band is satanic could say that it stands for “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
Written by Lily Wordsmith
Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith