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AC/DC: Australia's Electric Warriors

When AC/DC’s career stalled at the end of 76, they were “seriously fucking pissed off”. They responded in utterly explosive fashion...as Classic Rock chronicled in 2012

Christmas, 1976, summer time in Australia and, according to Michael Browning, their manager, AC/DC “have got the shits”. What’s more, they reckon it’s all his fault.

“It was very close to being all over,” Browning says. “Things were progressing very well in London and Europe. We’d been through a whole thing with The Marquee where they broke all the house records. We’d done the Lock Up Your Daughters UK tour and the Reading festival. It was all shaping up really well.”

Having moved the band and their operation to London over the previous eight months – during which time their first UK album release, High Voltage, had served warning on an unsuspecting British music scene of the impending explosion of Antipodean rock coming their way – the band’s sudden absence from the domestic scene in Australia had left AC/DC’s live following there diminished. When Browning brought them back to Oz at the end of 1976 for what should have been a triumphant homecoming, they were surprised to discover that things had changed.

The young, mostly female crowd that had got to know them through regular appearances on TV shows like Countdown (the Australian equivalent of Top Of The Pops) had deserted them in favour of stay-at-home poptastic local heroes like Skyhooks. Even the rugged, gig-going blokes who populated the thriving pub and club scene that AC/DC now found themselves back playing had developed a certain grudging attitude towards a band that had “buggered off overseas”, as Browning puts it. Even their hometown crowd in Sydney was diminished: when, after their return home, the band headlined the 5,000-capacity Hordern Pavilion on December 12, the place was barely half-full.

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