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Angus Young: This AC/DC Gig Was Scarier Than One With a Knife-Wielding ‘Madman’

Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

AC/DC‘s Angus Young has taken part in some hair-raising performances. But there was one that was more frightening than when a concertgoer with a meat cleaver terrorized the band’s audience.

It was when the guitarist first donned his iconic schoolboy outfit.

At least, that’s what the AC/DC shredder indicated to Total Guitar in a recent interview looking back on the Australian group’s early days playing local pubs. Young compared his first show in uniform to one where the crowd was so bloodthirsty that cops couldn’t even breach the venue.

“That was the most frightened I’ve ever been onstage,” Young recalled of the gig that debuted his now-signature getup. “But thank God, I had no time to think. I just went straight out there. The crowd’s first reaction to the shorts and stuff was like a bunch of fish at feeding time — all mouths open.”

The AC/DC legend continued, “I had just one thing on my mind: I didn’t want to be a target for blokes throwing bottles. I thought if I stand still I’m a target. So I never stopped moving. I reckoned if I stood still I’d be dead.”

According to Young, it was such a fright that AC/DC’s usual crowd of “sweaty, beer-swilling” concertgoers was no match. Not even when a knife-wielding attendee posed a threat to band and audience.

“I remember one night I said to the rest of the band, ‘I’m not going out there,'” Young recollected. “The police couldn’t get in the place. There was some madman running around inside the hall with a meat cleaver, chopping into the people! And the front row was all bikers. I said, ‘They just want blood!'”

AC/DC have obviously progressed beyond such murderous confines. Since those early days, they’ve inarguably become part of the top echelon of classic rock acts. But the band’s uniform-wearing guitarist will always remember those early days when staying swift onstage meant he didn’t get hit.

“You looked out and it was just like murderers’ row,” Young added, “and the look on their faces is like, ‘Send us the little guy in the shorts!'”

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