Life Before Brian: “AC/DC: And Then There Was Rock” chronicles the band’s early days (1973-’80)

By on February 9, 2018

AC/DC: And Then There Was Rock — now streaming on Night Flight Plus — offers viewers a closer look at the Australian band’s early years, from their formation with lead vocalist Dave Evans, right up until to the tragic death of the enigmatic frontman who replaced him, Bon Scott.


This 2005 documentary — produced by the UK’s Chrome Dreams Ltd — features some rare footage of Bon Scott’s previous bands during his pre-AC/DC days.

The documentary also includes rarely-seen footage and previously-unseen photos of AC/DC in their earliest incarnations, with former lead singer Dave Evans and the band’s original drummer, Colin Burgess, adding anecdotal information about that period in their history.

Also included in this 90-minute music documentary are interviews with several school friends of Bon Scott, including his lifelong friend Vincent Lovegrove, and other schoolmates of AC/DC’s lead and rhythm guitarists Angus and Malcolm Young, as well as interviews with AC/DC biographers Malcolm Dome (author of AC/DC: The Definitive History) and Clinton Walker (author of Highway to Hell: The Life and Death of AC/DC Legend Bon Scott,) and many others who knew the band members before they were legendary stadium rockers.


Bon Scott & Vincent Lovegrove

Read more about AC/DC below.


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AC/DC were formed in November of 1973 by brothers Angus and Malcolm Young, whose older brother George Young was a member of the Easybeats, one of Australia’s most successful bands in the 1960s. All three Young brothers had been born in Glasgow, Scotland.

Malcolm Young had followed first in older brother George’s footsteps by playing with a band called Velvet Underground, who were from Newcastle, New South Wales (not to be confused with the band of the same name from New York City).


Malcolm and Angus have said their new band name came from a suggestion made by their older sister Margaret, who had seen the initials AC/DC — which stands for “alternating current/direct current” — on a sewing machine.

The brothers thought this new name summed up the energy of their band (they were called “Acca Dacca” by some Australians).


AC/DC in 1973: Angus and Malcolm Young (guitars), Dave Evans (vocals), Larry Van Kriedt (bass), Colin Burgess (drums)

The first lineup of the band featured the Young brothers Malcolm and Angus, bassist Larry Van Kriedt, drummer Colin Burgess (ex-Masters Apprentices), and lead vocalist Dave Evans, who had been in Australia’s Velvet Underground too, although not at the same time.

AC/DC with this lineup played their first gig at the Chequers club in Sydney, Australia, on New Year’s Eve, 1973, and were later signed to the label Albert Productions (distributed in Australia and New Zealand by EMI).


Burgess ended up being the first member of the band to be fired (reportedly because he was drunk onstage and unable to play).

An alphabetical (and hopefully accurate) list of former/temporary members who came and went during these early years includes:

Rob Bailey (bassist from April 1974-January 1975); Ron Carptenter (Burgess’s replacement on drums, lasting just a few weeks); Peter Clack (drummer from April 1974 until January 1975); Russell Coleman (drummer for the month of February 1974); Tony Currenti (drummer for AC/DC prior to their hiring Phil Rudd — he’s listed as playing drums on the Australian version of their High Voltage album); Dave Evans (lead vocalist, as detailed below); Mark Evans (bassist from 1975-1977, playing on four of the band’s albums); Bruce Howe (bassist, March 1975); Paul Matters (bassist, replaced by Bruce Howe); John Proud (drummer, November 1974); Neil Smith (bassist, February to April 1974); Noel Taylor (Spring 1974); Larry Van Kriedt (bassist from November ’73 until February ’74, the same period that Dave Burgess was with the band); and Alex Young (bassist in 1975, briefly).


There seems to be quite a bit of dispute as to whether the Young brothers fired their lead singer, Dave Evans, or Evans quit.

If we’re to believe the Youngs, Evans was not a suitable frontman for their band because they felt he was more of a glam rocker akin to England’s Gary Glitter.

This makes sense, although it’s fair to point out that during their early days, the band members all dressed up in glam outfits (often satin trousers and the like), but this look was later abandoned when it was discovered that a band called Skyhooks, from Melbourne, Australia, had also adopted this same look.


Dave Evans has himself also offered up numerous reasons for his leaving AC/DC, as he told Blabbermouth.

Either way, Evans was replaced by Bon Scott in either September or October 1974, making them the hottest act to catch in Australia.


In the Preface to the first U.S. published edition of Highway to Hell: The Life and Death of AC/DC Legend Bon Scott, author Clinton Walker writes:

“After seeing the early AC/DC constantly on Australian TV’s Countdown in 1975-76, I had tended — like many other observers — to write them off as some sort of teenybopper boogie band. And then they left the country, to seek success on a bigger stage. Meanwhile, the late Seventies seemed to flash by — it was an incredibly exciting time for all of us. Then suddenly, in 1980, Bon Scott was dead. He was 33.”

Walker goes on to describe Scott — who died in London on February 19, 1980 — as “a man who lived for the moment,” calling him “one of the last true wild men of rock.”


Read more about Bon Scott’s replacement, Brian Johnson, in this previous Night Flight blog post.

Watch AC/DC: And Then There Was Rock  along with other great music documentaries, over on Night Flight Plus.


About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.