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AC/DC by Mick Wall


Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be

by Mick Wall

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-250-03874-6
Publisher: St. Martin's

Comprehensive, albeit indirect, retelling of how an unlikely collection of lads road the highway to hell straight into the upper echelons of rock’s pantheon of gods.

U.K. rock journalist Wall (Enter Night: A Biography of Metallica, 2011, etc.) begins where any good history of the seminal band should: wild man singer and all-around-good-time-guy Bon Scott cheating death after a near-fatal motorcycle accident. Alas, even the delightfully and demonically charged Scott couldn't outwit the grim reaper very long, dying soon after that at the age of 33 following a particularly shady night of partying. Not surprisingly, the author devotes many pages to Scott in an examination of the legendary lothario's desperate efforts to make it as a rock singer in far-flung Australia. Wall parallels that rough-and-tumble odyssey with that of a diminutive pair of belligerent brothers almost a decade Scott's junior: Malcolm and Angus Young. According to the author, the Youngs ruled—and continue to rule—AC/DC with absolute, iron-fisted authority. At the time, that forced even the supremely talented and singularly gifted Scott to constantly watch his step—and keep his distance. Nevertheless, the author notes that Angus, the guitar-obsessed problem child in the iconic schoolboy uniform, "loved" Scott. Unfortunately, none of the members of the band participated in the writing, so the author relies on mostly third-party accounts and previously published interviews to get a real sense of the interband dynamic. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since the principals in anyone's life story can often be the most myopic. Among the most revelatory items: Angus was hooked on milkshakes, and AC/DC was glam!

Like most of Wall's books, this one will be best appreciated by devotees of the band, which, given the fact that AC/DC has sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, is quite a large audience.