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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Oz Rock

Gettin’ robbed, gettin’ stoned, gettin’ beat up, broken boned

Angus Young, AC/DC, LA, 1978 Rennie Ellis
Angus Young, AC/DC, LA, 1978 Rennie Ellis. © Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive. www.RennieEllis.com.au

Two of the music industry’s highest-selling performers originated in suburban Australia. The Bee Gees started out in Brisbane, for instance, and AC/DC – whose Back in Black (1980) has sold more than 50 million copies – played their first gigs at a nightclub in inner Sydney.

1Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia, 1978 (printed 2010) Rennie Ellis. © Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive. www.RennieEllis.com.au. 2AC/DC, 1977 Bob King. Courtesy of the artist. © Bob King. 3Malcolm and Angus Young, AC/DC, 1976 Bob King. Courtesy of the artist. © Bob King. 4Bon Scott, AC/DC with fans, 1977 Bob King. Courtesy of the artist. © Bob King. 5Dave Tice, 1978 (printed 2018) Gary Ede. © Gary Ede. 6Angry Anderson, 2006 Sally Robinson. © Sally Robinson. 7Jimmy Barnes and Ian Moss, Cold Chisel 1980 Wendy McDougall. Courtesy of the artist. © Wendy McDougall.

Formed by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young in 1973, AC/DC exemplify the brand of pounding, guitar-driven rock that was increasingly thrashed out in suburban pubs and clubs from the early 70s onwards. There was Buffalo, with the ‘demented vocals’ of Dave Tice; The Angels, fronted by the rangy, raucous Doc Neeson; heavily-inked hardmen Rose Tattoo; Cold Chisel, sweaty, wired and boozy; and Divinyls, led by the edgily enigmatic Chrissy Amphlett. Each were among the many bands to have built their styles and followings in venues now considered crucibles of a characteristically local contribution to the genre.

1Chrissy Amphlett "Temperamental", 1989 Ivan Durrant. © Ivan Durrant. 2Chrissy Amphlett, Sydney, c.1988 Stuart Spence. Courtesy of the artist. © Stuart Spence. 3The Divinyls performing on Countdown, n.d. Bob King. Courtesy of the artist. © Bob King. 4Divinyls, Sydney, c.1988 Stuart Spence. Courtesy of the artist. © Stuart Spence. 5Doc Neeson, The Angels 1982 Wendy McDougall. Courtesy of the artist. © Wendy McDougall. 6Doc Neeson, The Angels 1982 Wendy McDougall. Courtesy of the artist. © Wendy McDougall. 7Doc Neeson, the Angels 1982 Wendy McDougall. Courtesy of the artist. © Wendy McDougall.

Despite their surly, insalubrious breeding grounds – and outré rock ‘n’ roll lifestyles – hard rock bands proved more palatable to the local industry than the innovative homegrown exponents of new wave emerging in the same period. AC/DC in particular distanced themselves from punk. ‘We thought that punk and the new wave thing might spoil it a bit for us,’ AC/DC frontman Bon Scott said in 1977, ‘but people ... want more than someone up there screaming “anarchy” and “rape” and this sort of crap, you know, and we’re it’.

1Mark and Nick Seymour, 1997 Nathan Kelly. © Nathan Kelly. 2Daddy Cool, Melbourne, 1974 Rennie Ellis. © Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive. www.RennieEllis.com.au. 3Skyhooks, Hordern Pavilion, 1976 Bob King. © Bob King. 4Skyhooks, Capitol Theatre, Sydney, 1983 Bob King. © Bob King. 5Sherbet, 1974 (printed 2002) Lewis Morley. © Lewis Morley Archive LLC. 6Marcia Hines, c. 1981 Lewis Morley. © Lewis Morley Archive LLC. 7Adrian Rawlins, 1977 David Campbell. © Estate of David Campbell. 8Glenn A Baker, 1989 (printed 2018) Gary Ede. © Gary Ede. 9Molly Meldrum, 2004 Robin Sellick. © Robin Sellick.

"Gettin’ robbed, gettin’ stoned, gettin’ beat up, broken boned" taken from ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’. Words and music by Ronald Scott, Malcolm Young and Angus Young. © Copyright BMG AM Pty Ltd/Australian Music Corporation Pty Ltd. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Unauthorised reproduction is illegal.

Related information

Young Docteurs, Kingston Hotel, 6 March 1980 (Paul Hayward guitar and Chris Shakallis), 6.3.80 'pling
Young Docteurs, Kingston Hotel, 6 March 1980 (Paul Hayward guitar and Chris Shakallis), 6.3.80 'pling
Young Docteurs, Kingston Hotel, 6 March 1980 (Paul Hayward guitar and Chris Shakallis), 6.3.80 'pling
Young Docteurs, Kingston Hotel, 6 March 1980 (Paul Hayward guitar and Chris Shakallis), 6.3.80 'pling

Canberra cool

In conversation: virtual event

Fri 25 Sep
12:30pm

Your backstage pass to sensational stories about Canberra’s Pub Rock scene with Chris Shakallis (Young Docteurs), Julia Ford (The Framed) and Fiona Edge (keeper of the ‘Pling archive)

Angus Young, AC/DC, LA, 1978 Rennie Ellis
Angus Young, AC/DC, LA, 1978 Rennie Ellis
Angus Young, AC/DC, LA, 1978 Rennie Ellis
Angus Young, AC/DC, LA, 1978 Rennie Ellis

Pub Rock Trivia

Thu 8 Oct
7:00pm

Join us for a bout of FREE pub trivia – all online and live-streamed of course! There’ll be an hour of music mayhem and prizes to be won.

The Lighthouse Keepers, ANU Union, Canberra, 1983. Juliet Ward (vocals), Greg Appel (guitar) 'pling
The Lighthouse Keepers, ANU Union, Canberra, 1983. Juliet Ward (vocals), Greg Appel (guitar) 'pling
The Lighthouse Keepers, ANU Union, Canberra, 1983. Juliet Ward (vocals), Greg Appel (guitar) 'pling
The Lighthouse Keepers, ANU Union, Canberra, 1983. Juliet Ward (vocals), Greg Appel (guitar) 'pling

Tales and time

In conversation: virtual event

Fri 9 Oct
12:30pm

It’s like an after party, but waaay after. Join Greg Appel (Lighthouse Keepers), Robina Gugler (co-writer of Head Full of Flames) and Fiona Edge (Keeper of the ‘Pling archive).

Jimmy Barnes and Ian Moss, Cold Chisel 1980 Wendy McDougall
Jimmy Barnes and Ian Moss, Cold Chisel 1980 Wendy McDougall
Jimmy Barnes and Ian Moss, Cold Chisel 1980 Wendy McDougall
Jimmy Barnes and Ian Moss, Cold Chisel 1980 Wendy McDougall

Squished and sweaty

In conversation: virtual event

Fri 23 Oct
12:30pm

Grab your press pass and hold it tight as we dive camera-first into the mosh pit! Photographers Wendy McDougall and Stuart Spence have captured the likes of INXS, Cold Chisel, Paul Kelly, Tim Freedman and many more.

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© National Portrait Gallery 2020
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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.