Through the magic of black and white video, this rare gig of Bon Scott-led AC/DC has been unearthed. The sound is poor, the lighting sometimes non-existent, but who cares? Just look at the faces of the 16-year-old girls in the front row as one of the hardest rocking bands plays (checks notes) the St. Albans High School gymnasium in 1976! It’s absolute madness. Who knew at that time that AC/DC were going to hit big, like stadium big, like essential hard rock band of all time big? To some it was probably a fun night out and isn’t it funny that the lead singer likes to rock a set of bagpipes?
In fact, the song they play in the video “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” is the first (perhaps) track to pit bagpipes against guitars.
In this key bit of investigation by Dangerous Minds, writer Cherrybomb wonders whether Bon Scott--a transplant from Scotland to Australia when he was six--actually could play the pipes at all. I mean, yes, one might *assume* that being Scottish means you’re half-way there, but in fact, according to a piper called Kevin Conlon, Scott only got an interest in the instrument during the recording of 1975’s T.N.T. :
I got a call from Bon, and he didn’t know who I was and I didn’t know who he was. He wanted to buy a set of bagpipes and have a few lessons. I told him they would cost over $1000 and it would take 12 months or more of lessons to learn how to play a tune. He said that was fine and came down for a few lessons, but as we were only going to be miming, he just had to look like he was playing.
Cherrybomb concludes that maybe, just maybe, Scott is playing the pipes during this number, instead of miming to a pre-recorded track over the P.A. But later the pipes got smashed up, and the number got dumped from the act. And reportedly the rest of the band was furious over their limited funds being spent on an instrument Scott couldn’t really play. The whole story has a tinge of Spinal Tap excess to it, but hey, you wouldn’t want it any other way, right?
via Dangerous Minds
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.