In Australian rock's golden period of the late 1970s and early '80s, Grahame ‘Yogi’ Harrison was a busy man: working as a sound engineer for legendary local bands Rose Tattoo, Buffalo and, famously in 1977, AC/DC at The Haymarket in Sydney. It's one of the best bootleg recordings of AC/DC from that era.
‘That [gig] was done while we actually took a break from recording Let There Be Rock,’ former AC/DC bass player Mark Evans told me in an interview for my first book on the band, The Youngs. ‘We were in the studio and we went down and we only had to go like 300 yards down the road from [Alberts Studios in] King Street to the gig. It was a great gig.’
In 1978, Harrison would go on to spend quite a bit of time at Alberts with the Tatts, who were produced by George Young and Harry Vanda. Harrison has strong opinions.
‘I am from the politically incorrect department,’ he says. ‘I don’t care who I offend. I simply tell the truth as I remember it.’
His memories of that time are a refreshing counterpoint to the usual AC/DC hagiography. Far from bursting out of the blocks under George’s tutelage, AC/DC’s beginnings were difficult.
‘AC/DC were laughed at in Sydney and left for Melbourne with their tails between their legs. I was good mates with [late AC/DC bass player] Neil Smith & knew [former AC/DC drummer] Noel Taylor as well. Phil Rudd is not one of my favourite people.
‘[Phil] knew that [Angus Young's] bigger brother ran the band and his bigger brother actually asked [Angus] to join the band. Angus wasn’t the original choice [for guitarist]. I think Angus has always had that underlying jealousy. My knowledge of those times is there had been other players before Malcolm [Young] finally gave Angus a shot at the gig. My strongest memory is that Angus was not the original choice for guitar player in the original concept in Malcolm’s head, which may not have even been called AC/DC at that time.’
‘AC/DC were laughed at in Sydney and left for Melbourne with their tails between their legs.' – Grahame Harrison
Harrison says the real reason AC/DC moved to Melbourne from Sydney was that they were ‘fairly a non-entity’ on the city’s live scene.
‘Sydney didn’t want to know, wasn’t interested. AC/DC was a totally confused band at the start. Despite all the affirmations put forward by the Young brothers that, “Oh, we always knew what we were doing, we knew where we were going, right from the start we had a master plan, we weren’t going to deviate from that, blah blah blah”, all they really are is a total extension of The Easybeats.
‘There was nothing really going on [musically], but George insisted on keeping it simple, because the “KISS” principle has always worked in the rock ’n’ roll business… just go for the lowest common denominator and see what you pick up along the way. I don’t think AC/DC really had any kind of an idea there.’
But when Bon came in, all that changed.
BON: THE LAST HIGHWAY: THE UNTOLD STORY OF BON SCOTT AND AC/DC'S BACK IN BLACK is available to preorder now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and hundreds of other retailers. Just click the title above (in red) to preorder and save on the retail price.
Jesse Fink is the author of Bon: The Last Highway: The Untold Story of Bon Scott and AC/DC's Back In Black and The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC. For more information about Bon, click HERE or click the book covers below to be directed to editions in your preferred territory and language.