Few bands are as emblematic of heavy rock as AC/DC. The Australian group has gone through a number of line-up changes over the years, some voluntary, some forced. The only constant was the band’s dogged rock ‘n’ roll spirit and founding brothers Malcolm and Angus Young forming the stable core.
While the brothers eventually drew inspiration from heavier rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, their initial inspiration lay in classic 1950s rock ‘n’ roll.
In conversation with Rolling Stone In 2001 Angus Stone was asked what music gets his “toes tapping”.
“I’m joining a lot of old rock ‘n’ roll,” he replied. Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. i love all that stuff When I get the chance and I’m on my way to a gig, I actually put on one of their tapes. Because they’re good vibe meters and I’m still getting off of that.”
When early AC/DC singer Bon Scott tragically died of acute alcohol poisoning in 1980, the band decided to continue with English singer Brian Johnson as their replacement. The decision was easy, as Scott previously praised Johnson for having a voice like his hero, Little Richard.
“I remember the first time I heard Brian’s name came from Bon,” guitarist Angus recalled in an interview with BraveWords. “Bon had mentioned that he had toured with a band in England once and he had mentioned that Brian had been in a band called Geordie and Bon had said, ‘Brian Johnson, he was a great rock ‘n’ roll guy. Singer in the style of Little Richard.’ And that was Bon’s big idol, Little Richard.”
“I think when he saw Brian at the time, Bon thought, ‘Well, he’s a guy who knows what rock ‘n’ roll is about.’ He mentioned that to us in Australia. I suppose when we decided to move on, Brian was the first name Malcolm and I came up with, so we said we should see if we could find him.”
While Angus Young had a soft spot for Scott’s ’50s icon when asked by the BBC to name his ultimate ‘rock god’ The Rock Show with Johnnie Walker In 2021, he settled on R&B king Chuck Berry. Perhaps this choice should have been obvious as he is recognizable on stage by his imitation of Chuck Berry’s famous “Duck Walk” in addition to his schoolboy clothes.
Watch Angus Young show off his spirited “duck walk” below during AC/DC’s 1981 performance of “Back In Black” in Maryland.