Born in Scotland, the brothers Angus and Malcolm Young moved with their family to Australia as children. Malcolm began playing guitar first, soon followed by Angus. Malcolm first played with a Newcastle, NSW band called The Velvet Underground (not the Lou Reed group).
Their older brother George Young had been a member of Australia's most successful Sixties band The Easybeats, who were the first local pop act to score an overseas hit ('Friday On My Mind') in 1967. After Young and his Easybeats partner Harry Vanda returned to Australia in late 1973, they became the house producers for the newly-formed Albert Productions record label whose owner, Ted Albert (a scion of the venerable Albert & Sons music publishing family), had been the Easybeats' producer between 1965 and 1967.
Young asked the boys to do some session work for a project he was doing. Angus then formed a band called Tantrum. After The Velvet Underground, Malcolm decided to form a more pure rock and roll band, and enlisted Angus and they were soon signed to the new Albert label, and Vanda & Young produced their first seven LPs.
The early lineups changed often, but the 1974 enlistment of charismatic singer Ronald 'Bon' Scott as their driving frontman signified the beginning of real success. Another vital innovation was Angus Young's adoption of his now-famous school uniform as a regular stage outfit; the original was reputedly Angus' real uniform from his secondary school, Ashfield Boys' High, in Sydney.
Between 1974 and 1978, aided by regular appearances on the nationally-broadcast TV pop show Countdown, AC/DC became one of the most popular and successful acts in Australia, scoring a string of hits albums and singles including their perennial 1975 rock anthem 'It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll)'.
Relocating to London in the late 1970s, they worked all over the UK and Europe to establish themselves, touring almost constantly and gaining invaluable experience on the stadium circuit supporting the top hard-rock acts of the day including Alice Cooper, Rush, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Boston, Black Sabbath, Cheap Trick, Heart, The Scorpions, Molly Hatchet, Ronnie Montrose, Nazareth, UFO, Journey, Foreigner, Van Halen, Styx, Blue yster Cult, Alvin Lee, Rainbow, Savoy Brown, REO Speedwagon, The Doobie Brothers, Thin Lizzy and The Who.
Rhythm Guitarist Malcolm Young once recalled in AC/DC's VH1 Behind the Music Series an incident from an England tour with Black Sabbath. Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath's Bassist), in a drunken rage, pulled a knife on Malcolm. The incident was quickly resolved without conflict, and the conjoined tour promptly ended. Ozzy and Bon stayed in contact however.
They survived the punk rock upheavals of 1976-78, partly because they were (erroneously) tagged as a punk band by the British music press. They gained a solid cult following in the UK with their powerful performances and outrageous stage antics; Angus Young quickly became notorious for mooning (i.e. showing his buttocks) to the audience and the group was banned from several British venues because of this. Their meaty hard-rock sound and Bon Scott's provocative, leering stage persona are also reputed to have been significant influences on Johnny Rotten and The Sex Pistols. The band were also a pivotal influence to the then emerging New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene, with artists such as Def Leppard and Saxon clearly displaying simililarities to the trademark sound of AC/DC.