Hell's Bells, beer and an unexpected trombone: this rare footage of AC/DC backstage in 1983 is an absolute delight

Angus Young and Malcom Young backstage
(Image credit: Scott Young)

Rare footage of AC/DC loitering backstage before a show on 1983's Flick Of The Switch tour has found its way onto the internet. The one-and-a-half minute clip finds the band quietly preparing for their performance, and finds Angus and Malcolm Young playing the intro to the Back In Black classic Hell's Bells

Details are sketchy. The video appeared on the YouTube account of one Scott Young (presumably no relation), which contains many AC/DC clips, dating back to a trio of interviews with former bass player Mark Evans that was uploaded in 2016. And there's no information about the clip itself, beyond the year it was filmed, although it's possible it comes from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on November 17 or 18, when the band's shows were filmed for broadcast on MTV.

Either way, it's a fascinating historical document. There's drummer Simon Wright, casually drinking a beer, just a few short months after being thrust into the limelight as Phil Rudd's replacement. There's frontman Brian Johnson, casually carrying a beer and a glass of something that might or might not be rosé. There's bassist Cliff Williams, casually limbering up with one of those Steinberger headless basses that were briefly all the rage. There's a lot of cigarette smoking.

And then there's the Young brothers, casually preparing for the show with a relaxed blues, before playing the intro to Hell's Bells, which, it turns out, sounds intriguingly similar to Radiohead's Street Spirit (Fade Out) when it's performed quietly. 

"So, are you in tune, Bri?" asks Malcolm.

"Bleeeeeuuugh", responds  Brian.

"Uuuuurrrgh", adds Angus, adjusting his cap.  

Interesting, as the band prepare to leave the dressing room to make their way onstage – Brian briefly jogs on the spot, like a boxer preparing for a title fight – a trombone appears in shot, but its presence remains unexplained, adding a layer of intrigue to footage that charmingly exposes the calm in the AC/DC camp, moments before the storm erupts.   

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 37 years in music industry, online for 24. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.