Fifty years ago, on a lazy Saturday morning, Dave Evans chanced upon an advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald, calling for a singer who could belt out rock n’ roll, a la the Rolling Stones.
Evans, who had shifted from Charters Towers, a rural Australian town, to Sydney with dreams of making it big as a singer, was soon on the phone with the youth who placed that advertisement—guitarist Malcolm Young. Soon, he was jamming with Malcolm, drummer Colin Burgess, and bassist Larry Van Kriedt.
A few weeks later, Malcolm’s little brother Angus Young also joined in after an audition and thus formed AC/DC, the legendary Australian hard rock band that has a unique, easily recognisable sound. Evans, who is set to perform in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday at the Kerala Arts and Crafts Village in Kovalam as part of the International Independent Music Festival (IIMF) spoke to The Hindu on his career.
“I started singing even before I went to school. My father was a great singer, and I used to see him on stage. We didn’t have television at home until I was 15, but we had poetry, reading, and all kinds of music. So, I grew up with diverse kinds of music. Then, I discovered the Beatles, just like we all did. Later, I went back to the music of the 1950s and discovered Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and the early music of Elvis Presley. I joined my first band ‘In Session’ when I was just 17. Even before that, everybody in that small town knew I could sing because I would be singing louder than the jukebox in cafes,” says Evans.
But, he was on the lookout for bigger things and soon shifted to Sydney, where he ended up with AC/DC, after a short-lived stint with another band. He has a fascinating story on the origins of the band’s name, which has led to many interpretations.
“We were told by our manager to better get a name, as we had a show coming up at the famed Checker’s Nightclub. We tossed around names and nobody could agree with anybody else’s name. At the next rehearsal, we decided to put three names each in a hat and whatever names got pulled out would be our name. But before that, Malcolm’s sister-in-law suggested a name that she had seen on the side of an electric appliance— AC/DC. We thought that’s a great name because every time somebody looked at these appliances, they would think about us,” he says.
Their first show began half an hour before midnight on December 31, 1973, and then “we rocked on into 1974,” as Dave puts it. Along with a few covers, they performed 12 bar rock n’ roll songs they were making up on the go. Evans sings a few lines from ‘Sunset Strip’, one of the songs they improvised that night. In the close to one year that he spent with the band, Evans recorded the single ‘Can I Sit Next To You’. Later, he had a few fruitful years with the band ‘Rabbit’, before he embarked on his solo career around the turn of the millennium. Since the beginning of this year, he has been touring various countries, celebrating the golden jubilee of AC/DC.
Though the band has a huge legion of fans in India, they have not yet performed in the sub continent, making Evans the first person associated with the band to perform here.