Insane Stories From The Heyday Of AC/DC

In the annals of rock history, there are hundreds of legendary stories from some of the biggest bands to ever have graced the stage: Ozzy Osbourne biting the head off a bat in 1982, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page dating a 14-year-old girl (AKA David Bowie's ex...), and Nikki Sixx, guitarist for Motley Crüe, literally dying and coming back to life.

These figures' lives were as loud and dangerous as the songs they created. Even so, AC/DC stories tend to steal the top spots on many lists of insane band trivia. From drugs, to dementia, to the death of guitarist Malcolm Young, it's a long way to the top... but a fast trip all the way down. 

  • The Drummer Once Tried To Hire A Hitman

    The Drummer Once Tried To Hire A Hitman
    Photo: Ac-dcfreak785 / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

    There are wild stories involving rock stars, then there are ones that border on criminal. In the case of drummer Phil Rudd, this tale definitely falls into the latter category. 

    Although specifics of the crime have been suppressed, Rudd was charged with attempting to hire a hitman, threatening another person's life, and possession of methamphetamine. The intended targets?  Rudd was said to have offered his hitman roughly $133,000 and the sports car of his choice to kill some contractor and his daughter.

    Rudd was sentenced to eight months of house arrest after pleading guilty. 

  • Bon Scott's Cause Of Death Was Officially Ruled "Death By Misadventure"

    Perhaps the most infamous AC/DC story is also their most tragic. After six years and seven albums with the band, original vocalist Ronald Belford "Bon" Scott died at the age of 33. 

    Following a heavy night of drinking at London club The Music Machine, Scott was left to sleep off the alcohol in a friend's car. The next morning, however, Scott's lifeless body was discovered; the star was pronounced dead on arrival as soon as his ambulance arrived at the hospital. 

    The cause? "Acute alcohol poisoning," though several fans believe Scott's death to be an ongoing mystery, and that the car's exhaust fumes were perhaps his true killer. Other suspicious admirers blame the negligence of a third party. Their argument cites Scott's asthma, and suggests that the freezing weather might have contributed to the singer's death.

    In any case, Scott's demise was classified as "death by misadventure" in the official ruling.

  • Their Music Was Used To Bring A Dictator To Justice

    Their Music Was Used To Bring A Dictator To Justice
    Photo: US Marshals Service / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

    In what has been dubbed "Operation Nifty Package," the US military planned to extract dictator Manuel Noriega from his bunker in December 1989, using only the power of rock. 

    Noriega, the then-dictator of Panama, found refuge from US attacks in the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See, a veritable embassy for the Vatican. Without an outright assault on the Pope's territory, the American military was at a loss. How could they bring the man to justice without a firefight? 

    The answer? Among other songs, "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC.

    By mounting industrial speakers and cranking the volume, the US military blared high-powered rock music directly at the nunciature. Eventually, the noise grew too unnerving, and Noriega surrendered. 

  • The Band Has A Reputation For Melting Amps

    The Band Has A Reputation For Melting Amps
    Photo: Harry Potts / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    Sometimes a band rocks so hard that the resulting sonic disruption causes actual fires to erupt. Either that, or some ironic deity chose an appropriate time for AC/DC's amp to surge with power and suddenly burst into flames. 

    In the case of Angus Young, the legendary guitarist's amp spontaneously combusted in 1977 while recording the solo for "Let There Be Rock." While this occurrence is definitely uncommon, it happened again while the band was recording 2014's Rock or Bust album. 

    According to Young:

    Yes, it was on fire and I had to keep playing until the end, because my brother was in the control room, and yelling out 'KEEP GOING!' — so I had to keep going until the thing kind of went into meltdown. And on this album, Rock or Bust, we had the same thing... my amp just went on fire. And I didn't even know! I thought it was a cigarette going. But Brendan was shouting out, 'Ang, you're on fire!'

  • They Once Tried To Catch The Loch Ness Monster

    They Once Tried To Catch The Loch Ness Monster
    Photo: Gregory J Kingsley / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Following the passing of bandmate Bon Scott, then-new vocalist Brian Johnson recalled a night in 1981 or 1982, in which Malcom Young suggested the two visit the infamous Loch Ness in Scotland. Their plan was to lure out one of the world's most well-known urban legends, using only a box full of fireworks

    As Johnson says, "We walked straight into the water; we didn't even take our shoes off. And there we were giggling and laughing trying to set these fireworks. Everything got soaked in the water and we all fell down, and of course we thought we had seen it. We weren't sure."

  • There Have Been 26 Members

    There Have Been 26 Members
    Photo: Weatherman90 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Dating all the way back to their inception in 1973, AC/DC has had a steady rotation of band members outside of Angus and Malcolm Young, its two founders. Along with the Youngs, the original band consisted of vocalist Dave Evans, bassist Larry Van Kreidt, and drummer Colin Burgess. 

    Since then, it's been a real "Who Made Who" with 26 members popping in and out of the same roles. Granted, some have been strictly touring musicians, but with the notorious stories surrounding the band, one can't be too surprised that some members haven't stuck around for too long. 

    Most notably, the firing of long-time singer Brian Johnson in 2016 sent ripples throughout the music industry. It's likely that fans of the band were even more dumbstruck when none other than Axl Rose was announced as his replacement for the foreseeable future.