Angus Young names his “biggest” guitar inspiration

Angus young

AC/DC may be the perfect example of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Even though the band has detractors who claim that they play the same type of music on every album, the Young brothers have mastered the art of writing songs about the joys of being in a rock and roll band. Although it is impossible to replicate what the band has accomplished over the years, Angus Young regarded one guitarist as the beginning of his entire career.

The majority of the group’s repertoire is based on the blues. As evidenced by their chord progressions and the tasty solos that Young has played across every album, there are influences from before rock and roll even existed. Young did his homework on legends such as Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson.

Artists like The Rolling Stones embraced the blues as their ethos for the rest of their careers. In contrast, AC/DC did not intend to stick with lowdown and dirty songs for the rest of their lives. By the time they got Bon Scott behind the microphone, the band knew they had found their calling in rock and roll. They wanted nothing more than to crank the volume as loud as they could.

However, that mentality was not all that different from what the early rock and roll pioneers had established. Before The Beatles arrived, Little Richard and Elvis Presley built their entire persona around the bizarre music they created. Presley whipped young women into a frenzy when he wiggled his hips.

Of all the greatest stars who had come before him, Young was the most taken aback when he heard Chuck Berry for the first time. Known as one of the forefathers of rock guitar, Berry took the sounds of blues and jazz that he had loved and brought a persistent backbeat to them, coming up with the guitar licks that would become staples on songs like ‘School Days’ and Johnny B Goode’.

When discussing influences in the book Louder Than Hell, Young cited Berry as one of the foundations of his sound. He stated, “Rock and roll has always been about that blues element, and we’ve always dabbled in the blues”. I adored Keith Richards, but Chuck Berry was my personal favourite. That is how we have always wanted to be. We’ve done tracks like ‘The Jack’ since the first album; they have a bluesy feel to them.

Young inherited more than just Berry’s blues influence from his idol. When taking the stage for the first time, Young would mimic Berry’s moves. He included his famous duckwalk while dressed in his signature schoolboy uniform. Although Berry’s influence may have spread to music, no one would mistake AC/DC for anyone else.

Aside from Young’s incredible Berry licks, Bon Scott and Brian Johnson’s vocals would become essential to the band’s sound. It employed the same grit and growl that would come to define hard rock. AC/DC had always made their own music. But if Berry hadn’t laid the groundwork, they might not have existed at all.

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