On November 26, 1976, the Sex Pistols released their very first single — Anarchy In The U.K. In doing so, they didn’t alter the rock and roll landscape so much as pour petrol across every square inch of it, set it ablaze and then dance mockingly around it.
By then, over in the US, bands like the New York Dolls and Ramones had already generated an underground buzz with a loose, driving sound and outrageous attitudes set in direct opposition to the shirtless, flaxen-haired rock titans of the early-70s. Punk had arrived with a beer-sodden sneer and both middle fingers raised. While the press lapped it all up with pearl-clutching hysteria, others found the whole thing rather tedious. Such as AC/DC frontman Bon Scott.
AC/DC released both High Voltage and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap in 1976 and they were poised for a run at the big time. At the time however, their own style of punchy, bullshit-free rock and roll had inspired some music journalists to lump them in with the nascent punk movement. Which made little sense; AC/DC played an intricate style of dual-fretted boogie that showcased musicianship well beyond the three-chord playbook favoured by punks. And AC/DC’s songs were wholly devoid of the politically-charged lyrics that underpinned mid-70s punk — particularly in the UK. Addressing the question of whether or not AC/DC were a punk band, Angus Young reportedly said at the time, “We just call ourselves a rock band. We don’t like being classified as a ‘punk rock’ band. Not everyone can be punk rock.”
On January 6, 1977, AC/DC were one month into their A Giant Dose Of Rock ‘N’ Roll tour — a thirty-two date campaign across their native Australia. Bon Scott sat down with a handful of journos to discuss his band’s soaring fortunes. The video below reveals Scott at the height of his laddish charm. Decked out in sunglasses, with a faint slur suggesting that the pint in front of him was not his first of the day, Scott holds court.
“Listen,” says one journalist from offscreen, “I understand the Hobart city fathers are trying to put a clamp on your concert here as well.”
Scott laughs dismissively and uses his middle finger to adjust his sunglasses. It’s something he does several times throughout the brief interview.
As to the question of whether police officers attend AC/DC concerts, Scott replies, “Only if they pay,” drawing chuckles from the crowd. The singer is having a lovely time.
Then one journalist jumps in and says, “There’s a new pop group in England called the Sex Pistols. People say they’re modelling themselves on you — is that correct?”
“Is it really?” asks Scott with a bit of a slur.
“Have you ever heard of them?”
“Never,” Scott answers, somewhat implausibly, considering the Pistols’ infamous reputation by then.
“Or are you modelling yourselves on them?” the journalist presses.
“The Sex Pistols.”
“Don’t know them. Don’t look at me.” Scott is almost certainly extracting a bottomless ocean of urine from the poor journalist, who, to his credit, refuses to let it die.
“Some say you favour punk rock more than anything else. Do you see this as grass roots music or what?”
“I see us as music, I see punk rock as nothing,” says Scott.
The journo offers, “You think it’s simply outrageous noise?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” replies Scott wearily. “Those guys... they’re making a statement. It don’t mean nothing, but they’re making a statement.”
From here, the interview takes on new levels of absurdity as the reporters ask Scott about their fans, UK audiences and indecent language. It’s quick and at times unintelligible, but it captures one of rock’s greatest frontmen in a loose and unguarded moment.
Check it out below.