Angus Young And Bon Scott’s Brawl With Deep Purple That Increased AC/DC’s Popularity
AC/DC stepped into their musical journey by playing at nightclubs in Sydney during the early ’70s. Angus Young had already started to try different costumes in these years, and he finally decided to use a school-uniform stage outfit, which would become his characteristic look in the later years. The band started to increase their reputation thanks to their energetic live shows, and it didn’t take long for their debut studio album to arrive.
By the time they released their first album, ‘High Voltage,’ in 1975, they had replaced the band’s original singer Dave Evans with Bon Scott. Evans had recorded only one single with the band, but then they re-recorded it with Scott, who handled all other vocal parts within the album. Around this time, AC/DC was added to the lineup of the 1975 Sunbury Music Festival along with Deep Purple, Ayers Rock, The Dingoes, and many other ones. However, things didn’t go as expected, and AC/DC couldn’t play at the festival although they were scheduled to perform.
How Did AC/DC And Deep Purple Get Into A Fight During The 1975 Sunbury Music Festival?
The Sunbury Music Festival was an Australian rock music festival held annually from 1972 to 1975. It was mainly promoted as Australia’s Woodstock at the time and mostly included performances from some Australian and New Zealand bands. For the 1975 festival, Deep Purple was presented as the headliner, but there were some problems with the arrangement.
The festival had already faced some challenges related to low ticket sales and poor weather. Deep Purple had been paid $60,000 for their performance during these problematic conditions, while the other bands who would perform at the festival were paid either small amounts or nothing. However, it looked like Deep Purple wouldn’t be able to perform for some reason, and the organizers decided to fill their position with AC/DC to avoid any revolt by fans.
Here is how Angus Young recalled the moment they were offered to play at the festival during an old interview:
“We were playing in this pub on Saturday, and this manager got a hold of us and said, ‘Listen, can you guys whiz out to this Sunbury place?’ The guy promoting was a bit worried. He said, ‘Deep Purple doesn’t look like they’re gonna go onstage.’ He was a bit worried that no one was going to show, and he didn’t want the kids to riot; so he thought, ‘Well, I’ll get AC/DC, and maybe they can keep them at bay.'”
When AC/DC arrived at the festival area by assuming that they would play, Deep Purple surprised them by deciding to perform that night. However, AC/DC members still thought they would play as they were still on the setlist. They patiently waited for Deep Purple to finish their performance so that they would be their turn. However, when their turn came, they were blocked by Deep Purple members, and then a fight started between the two sides.
Angus Young recalled these moments by saying:
“Everything was cool as far as we knew. Then, at the last minute, something happened … somebody said somebody threw a punch at our manager – one of Deep Purple’s tour guys. We were all bunched up in this caravan, changing. I remember we all came running out.”
When the fight began, Angus Young even rushed out to the stage and approached the microphone to ask for help. Bon Scott also joined the brawl along with Young, and the attacks from both sides quickly escalated it. Fortunately, the support coming from the people around calmed down the fight, and Deep Purple went on to perform. AC/DC never performed at the festival at the end of the day, but it increased their popularity and widened their audience.
You can watch Angus Young talking about the fight between AC/DC and Deep Purple.