AC/DC at the Hard Rock Cafe. Bakery were the support.

A is for AC/DC

A IS FOR AC/DC


The first in a continuing series at AMMP about Australian music history from AC/DC to Zoot. A is for AC/DC.

The story of AC/DC begins in the Sixties with a club called Victoria and Albert – also known as Bertie’s – at 1 Spring Street, Melbourne. Speaking to AMMP from his home on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, former manager Michael Browning can remember everything – even the hot dogs.

Victoria and Albert, which Australians immediately rechristened Bertie’s,  in inner-city Melbourne was heavily influenced by swinging London. This was the puffy shirt era of music and Bon Scott was there. (Incense and peppermints not pictured).

Bon Scott in The Valentines. Puffy shirt alert.
Bon Scott in The Valentines. Puffy shirt alert.
Victoria and Albert (Bertie's) in Sixties Melbourne.
Victoria and Albert (Bertie’s) in Sixties Melbourne.
Victoria and Albert, 1 Spring St, Melbourne (Michael Browning)
Victoria and Albert, 1 Spring St, Melbourne (Michael Browning)
Bertie's as seen in Dog Eat Dog (Michael Browning, Allen & Unwin)
Bertie’s as seen in Dog Eat Dog (Michael Browning, Allen & Unwin)

BILLY THORPE

It may not look like it, but Bertie’s was also where Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs would rock the room. Michael Browning would famously then adopt Bon Scott, Angus Young and recreate AC/DC – first removing their watches.

Hang on a minute. “Yeah, that’s true, I didn’t want them to wear watches,” Browning confirms. It didn’t tally with the star power he wanted for the band. He wouldn’t let them catch trains or trams either, for the same reason. After all – Mick Jagger wouldn’t have been seen on the number 96, would he?

Details like this make Browning’s book a must for true AC/DC fans, but also for anyone curious about Melbourne’s rich music history. This is an advertisement for Bertie’s from April 24th, 1968.

Michael Browning's Bertie's in 1968.
Michael Browning’s Bertie’s in 1968.

 

AC/DC AND THE LUNCHTIME GIGS

Dog Eat Dog  is the bible of all the AC/DC biographies because not only was Michael Browning there – he can also remember it. In May 1975, for example, he was juggling not only Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs late on Saturday nights, but AC/DC every day of the week, Monday to Friday, from 1.00pm to 3.00pm. Yes, you read that correctly.  Afternoon weekday gigs. With hot dogs.

One fan of The Hard Rock Cafe, writing in a forum at The Age remembers Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs in the basement of Bertie’s around 1970. The gear? Vox AC30’s and column PA’s with 4.12 inch speakers per side. One transit van. One roadie. No hearing left.

 

See AC/DC for $1
See AC/DC for $1

 

THE GOLDEN AGE

This was the start of what would become Australia’s golden age of pub rock, partly thanks to Michael’s vision. At The Hard Rock Cafe at 1 Spring Street (corner of Spring and Flinders Street, where there now stands a typical Melbourne high-rise office block) you could have seen AC/DC, Split Enz, Daddy Cool, Richard Clapton and Lobby Loyd and Coloured Balls – all in one month.

Running Bertie’s with Andrew Knight (born into one of the city’s wealthiest families) Browning would see the venue through from Sixties whimsy to Seventies hard rock.

Hard Rock Cafe Gay Night
Hard Rock Cafe Gay Night – and AC/DC.

AC/DC AT THE HARD ROCK

AC/DC at the Hard Rock Cafe. Bakery were the support.
AC/DC at the Hard Rock Cafe. Bakery were the support.

ONE DOLLAR TO SEE AC/DC

The door entry price at  The Hard Rock Cafe for AC/DC’s launch of High Voltage and Baby Please Don’t Go in February 1975 was one dollar. One Australian dollar.

Just for the record, in 2009, two of Bon Scott’s surviving notebooks went for US$35,00/AUD$44,000 at auction. If you happen to find an AC/DC ticket stub from 1975, you can now sell it for AUD$1400.

1975 ticket for AC/DC and Hush - priced at $1400.
1975 ticket for AC/DC and Hush – priced at $1400.

ANGUS AT THE HARD ROCK

Angus Young created his famous ‘dying insect’ guitar performance at The Hard Rock Cafe.  This photograph, held at The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, was taken by Andrew Wittner. It happened, as Angus tells it, because he tripped over his guitar lead and had to cover up.  Angus Young told 2JJ, ‘Yeah, I tripped over a lead, fell on me knees…I thought people thought I was a fucking idiot so I started bobbin’ around on the ground.’

Angus Young at the Hard Rock Cafe. Andrew Wittner. Powerhouse Museum Sydney.
Angus Young at the Hard Rock Cafe. Andrew Wittner. Powerhouse Museum Sydney.


AC/DC AND THE WOMEN OF MELBOURNE

This fantastic photograph of Angus at The Hard Rock Cafe in 1974 with one of AC/DC’s legion of Melbourne female fans (her name was Vanda) shows her home-made band logo, applied to her shirt with a sewing machine – and a shark’s tooth necklace, a big mid-Seventies fashion in Australia. From Crow’s Garage.

 

Angus Young and Vanda at The Hard Rock Cafe 1974. Copyright crowsgarage.com
Angus Young and Vanda at The Hard Rock Cafe 1974. Copyright crowsgarage.com


THE FEMALE AUDIENCE
The marketing for AC/DC would be directed at a male audience, not long after this photograph was taken in Melbourne, at 1 Spring Street.  In the mid-Seventies, AC/DC was still finding its feet, which is why we find them billed with Australia’s most successful boy-band of the era, Sherbet, on this poster. Note the running order. Sherbet. Then Daddy Cool. Then AC/DC.

 

Anyone who still thinks Oasis invented Lad Rock never saw these photographs of Michael Browning with AC/DC (Allen & Unwin).

Pictured: AC/DC receive billing below Sherbet and Daddy Cool at Festival Hall, Melbourne. Bon Scott’s notebooks. Bon Scott’s leather jacket (at The Australian Music Vault, Melbourne).  Former AC/DC manager Michael Browning with the band – from Dog Eat Dog (Allen and Unwin).

ACDC support Sherbet BON SCOTT NOTEBOOKS ABC NET AU

Curator at The Australian Music Vault with Bon's jacket.
Curator at The Australian Music Vault with Bon’s jacket.

Browning acdc shot

 

THE HARD ROCK CAFE TODAY

The Hard Rock Cafe today at 1 Spring Street is a memory. Only AC/DC Lane, a walk away – and Cherry Bar, down the end of AC/DC Lane – hold the sacred  space.  The Shell building (below) stands where Angus invented his ‘dying insect’ routine.

Was Hard Rock Cafe BERTIES

 

 

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