It’s no big secret that I’ve been a hard-boiled AC/DC fan for 35 years. And of course I always wanted to meet them in person, but that seemed unattainable.
Last October, the goal seemed within reach. I learned a week in advance that they would be in London to shoot the video for the new album Rock Or Bust. Many of my friends would fly there and can now be seen among the 500 fans who attended the film shoot. But I stayed with my wife, who had her birthday on the same day and wished herself a motorcycle tour with wellness and hiking, so I surprised her with that. (However, I dreamed all night of AC/DC).
To save our marriage, I told her, she would have to make sure that during the next tour I can snap a selfie of Angus and myself. Of course I could not really expect it, but our marriage had to be rescued.
And so two friends and I took a first attempt on 21st May in Munich. We left the concert before the end and drove to the hotel where the band was supposed to stay. But other than that we got to know Paul Panzer (a famous German comedian), who also stayed there and also waited for AC/DC, nothing happened. It turned out that they were at another hotel.
Well I grabbed the ambition. I put our investigator on the issue, in which hotel they would be in Zurich. However, he was not as fast as my mate André and I together. Two days before the concert we walked around the venue and looked at the stage setup. André met a tour photographer who said AC/DC were going to be at the same hotel as during the last tour. I again knew where that was.
So the next day André drove quite early there and waited outside the hotel. In fact he saw Angus and his wife, but they were shielded. Approximately an hour later he called me again to tell me that he had just received an autograph from Angus. I cursed, because I thought that tis was it now. But André said singer Brian Johnson was still out somewhere and maybe we could meet him when he comes back.
So I rode my Harley there to see what would happen. In fact, Brian came back shortly afterwards. He was immediately surrounded by a dozen fans who wanted autographs and pictures, but then were too pushy, so he left very soon.
We thought that tis was it now, stayed briefly, but when we were about to leave, I discovered Stevie Young, as he was smoking a few yards away from us and was talking to two people, one apparently from the crew.
Although he kept looking over at us, he made no move to come over. I thought he might be just too shy. So I waved at him, he waved back, I waved him over, he said goodbye to the two and came to us. We chatted for an hour with him. When he learned that I am a physicist, he showed himself as a physics fan and we talked about interpretations of quantum mechanics and other physical phenomena, about the possibility that we create the world with our expectations and the mythology of the Australian aborigines.
Of course, his role as a successor to Malcolm Young was an issue, too. He told us how Malcolm had asked him to replace him, but first he asked Angus for his approval. Sad Story …
I told him about my book, «The AC/DC Strategy». This interested him very much. I had tried at noon to deliver to the band five copies, via the hotel reception. But the staff refused to take them, on the grounds that they would admit that AC/DC stayed with them if they would accept the books. Stevie called someone from the crew and asked him to take care of this. What I found especially funny was that he did not want to give him my business card, maybe because the flash in our logo stands not only for interventions, but also for AC/DC. This pleased him particularly well.
After about an hour there was a photo session and autographs. Someone asked him about a plectrum. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of them, all seemingly unused, and he distributed them. Then he got one that seemed particular, because he paused, looked at the plectrum and then at me and gave this plectrum to me with the words, «I used this to play For Those About To Rock at the last concert in Madrid. It is totally worn out».
Then he left us. We thought for a second time, this was it, kept chatting a little further and wanted to leave, as André suddenly said, «Here comes Angus».
In fact, Angus was just very relaxed strolling from the hotel lobby, probably to smoke, saw us, came straight to me and asked, «Are you back again?». I laughed and replied that I had not been there before, but it was nice to finally meet him and shook his hand. After that we chatted for two hours about everything under the sun.
Of course, I talked with him about my book and about physics. He wondered how I can apply physic in my current job. I replied that the logical-analytical, and creative thinking is very helpful. Others asked him several questions, including about his favorite guitar. Of this he had two, that were built in the late sixties or early seventies, both Gibson SG. He uses them almost exclusively in the studio. One,however, fell during the opening of a cabinet during a tour in Japan, the neck broke, and although it was mended, he can barely use it because it sounds different now. While an electric guitar wood body should have no effect on the sound, Angus thinks that the timber body has an impact on how you play the guitar and therefore an indirect influence on the sound.
Another issue discussed was the radio transmitter between guitar and amp, and how Malcolm in New York tested the first one and was thrilled because it enabled them to play even louder than with a cable. The company that produced it, no longer exists today. He had 11 pieces of it, but with time, the sweat made them all broken.
Then we still came to the special sound of AC/DC which no other band can imitate properly. In my opinion next came only the band ’77 from Barcelona, in their original composition. Angus did not know them, although the band once knocked on his doorstep and gave their albums the Angus’ wife Ellen. Angus confirmed what his wife had said back then, that he wouldn’t listen to music younger than the seventies, because he does not want to be influenced by it. Then however, he got curious and I played Big Smoker Pig for him. His comment: «Very close, but they use smaller amps». It continued with stories of how they composed during the seventies in the rehearsal room until exhaustion, so long that actually permanently at least one of them was asleep. Of course, the my other three friends talked to Angus as well. He then signed autographs and we made a photo session and then he left.
What was I particularly impressed by, was how normal this encounter was. I can now confirm what is written in my book: there is no difference between these world class Rock’n’Roll stars and their fans, except that the band is on the stage and the fans are in front. Other bands of this caliber would not take so much time for their fans and would not be so easy going. The AC/DC strategy relies very heavily on modesty, loyalty and service mentality. Perhaps this has to do with Melbourne, the place that accelerated their career, and where the common saying of service personnel, which one hears, reads: «Wer’e here to serve you.»
After that I saw the two during their stay in Zurich only during the concerts on Friday and Sunday.
But on Monday morning at 7:11 clock in the morning (!!!) – for a rock band surely in the middle of the night – Stevie sent me an e-mail, that at the reception deck an autographed copy of my book was ready for collection. So it was. In the evening when I picked it, the hotel staff told me that the band had left in the morning. Next time I’m going to see AC/DC it will be in a different light. But above all, my marriage is saved 🙂