Saturday, November 8, 2008

AC/DC at CBGB's, 1977

AC/DC live at CBGB's FFoto (c) Robert Barry Francos

On August 24, 1977, I went to CBGB's to see one of my favorite powerpop bands, The Marbles (and they did not disappoint).

As their set was ending, suddenly there was a commotion at the back of the club and I figured, oh, I bet some drunk was getting tossed. Then I noticed part of the crowd moving toward the stage, surrounding a cluster of people. That’s when they announced the next band to play over the speaker, and it was not one who was scheduled. One of the group of people had long-hair, muscles and a grainy face; the one behind him was diminutive, wearing short pants that looked like part of a school uniform, and was carrying a guitar case. Of course, I recognized them from seeing them on some Friday night in-concert television program.

It seems AC/DC had been playing in town at the Academy of Music (which would be renamed as The Palladium) to support their High Voltage album, and wanted to check out the club. The band proceeded to play an impromptu set, which actually lasted longer many other local bands’ turn at the mic. And this was after their playing a full concert uptown shortly before.

The late singer Bonn Scott ran around the relatively small stage, ripping his shirt off along the way. Meanwhile, guitarist Angus Young also frenetically moved like a madman, brandishing his guitar like a weapon of noise, and playing their fun version of pop metal. I’d never been enough of a fan that I would have paid to see the band, but I definitely had fun viewing them that close.

At one point, Angus switched guitars that either had a remote or a really long cord (I can’t remember which). He then made his way through the crowd, while playing wild solo licks, and went outside. So, there was little Angus, while still playing, talking to the transient gents from the Palace Hotel milling outside CBGB.

Luckily, I caught the gig on film. The band was moving around so fast, and I did not have a flash at that time, that all the pictures were blurry due to the movement. At first I was disappointed by the blur, but after some time I found that the effect was almost like echo from the guitar, giving a true feel to the motion of the moment.

Soon after,I even bought the album for a buck at a cut-out bin. I was satisfied on many levels.


  1. Great story and great photos. You were fortunate to have seen them with Bon. Thanks for the article.

  2. Glad you liked it all. It was definitely a fun and unexpected evening. Did not know that was going to happen, so it was a total bonus, especially since I had just gotten the camera recently before. By the way, if you hear the recording of that show, where you hear someone talking at the begining about Angus's legs, that was a tape I made of the show that I gave to someone, and it has since shown up with collectors.

  3. Awesome!
    I was born in 1976, too bad I never got to see em with Bon.

  4. I love the way you describe Bon, long hair and muscles! Awesome article and photos of him, really like the top black and white one. What a beautiful sexy body, and killer stage presence that man had. I saw Bon live in concert, but only at big arenas. I regret never being able to see him in a small venue.

    Bon rocks!

  5. The funny thing is that when I first saw these photos, I absolutely hated them being all blurry and out of focus. It wasn't until years later that I realized how much I liked them, and could appreciate them as motion, not blur. Thank god it was on film and not digi, or I may not have them today. Thanks for the kind words, and yes, I do feel lucky about getting to not only see them in a small venue, but to have been that close to the stage.

  6. I think the motion in the photos makes them unique and really captures the high energy of an AC/DC show!

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