This is the twenty-ninth in a series of examinations of music legends and whether they are true or false.
Click here to view an archive of the previous music urban legends.
MUSIC LEGEND: AC/DC was named after a slang term for bisexuality or a sly satanic reference.
As I mentioned last time out, the Australian rock band AC/DC has had a good deal of rumors told about them.
Last time I addressed the fact that Angus Young (co-founder of the band along with his brother, Malcolm Young) fudged his age so that he could pretend to be a teenager (due to his schoolboy costume that he would wear on stage – a costume he wore due to a suggestion from his sister, Margaret).
This time around, let’s discuss two of the many, many different theories as to why AC/DC was called AC/DC.
The actual term “AC/DC” officially stands for Alternating Current/Direct Current – the two different methods of delivering electricity – something that was labeled AC/DC was able to receive power from either method.
So therefore, AC/DC has become a popular slang term for bisexuality, as a bisexual person is open to either sex, just like AC/DC devices are open to both currents.
The term is popular enough that Joan Jett actually had a song called ACDC on her 2006 album, Sinner…
When AC/DC was getting their start in Australia the early 1970s, they played pretty much anywhere they could, including a number of gay bars, so the whole bisexual slang term certainly made sense.
After the band became a hit in the United States towards the end of the 1970s, the NEW rumor was that it was a satanic reference (people in the US during the 70s often liked to presume pretty much every rock band was secretly satanic).
Here, the term would stand for some variation of “Anti Christ / Devil’s Child” (“Anti-Christ/Devil’s Children,” “Against Christ/Devil’s Children,” etc.).
It surely did not help that one of their most popular early songs in the States was “Highway to Hell”….
In any event, the actual origin of the band’s name is much more prosaic.
The same aforementioned sister, Margaret Young, also helped suggest the name of the group after seeing the term AC/DC on an appliance (most commonly the appliance has been described as a sewing machine, but I’ve also seen others, including AC/DC’s official website, call it a vacuum cleaner – either one makes sense). Her brothers liked the idea because it suggested power, which the band was quite known for at the time (they were very electric on the stage).
That story has been consistently told by the band for over thirty years now, and their logo has always include the electric bolt in the middle of the AC/DC…
So I’m willing to go with the answer as given by the band.
MUSIC LEGEND: The Rolling Stones almost did not release “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” because Keith Richards felt that the famous riff sounded too similar to another song.
STATUS: Basically True
Let’s say that you wake up in the middle of the night and you have a great beat in your head. Would you think that you just came up with a really cool riff, or would you think that you must be remembering a song you heard somewhere?
I think most of us would tend toward the latter, but as it turns out, even famous musicians sometimes think that are in the latter category, as seen with the interesting case of Keith Richards and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
In one of the most famous stories about rock ‘n’ roll (and one of the coolest), Keith Richards woke up one night with the famous guitar riff to “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” in his head, along with the words “I can’t get no satisfaction.”
He got his tape recorder and recorded the riff and the words and then went back to bed.
He then brought the song to his writing partner, Mick Jagger, who wrote the rest of the lyrics and worked out the melody (remember, all they had was “da da…da da da da”) and they completed the song that would soon become the signature hit of the Rolling Stones, and one of the most famous songs in rock ‘n’ roll history.
Only the Stones almost never released the song!
This is where the “basically” part comes in, because really, I doubt that the Stones were ever TRULY serious about not recording the song, but I do believe it that Keith Richards had doubts about the tune.
One of his worries was that this great riff (or lick or whatever you want to call it) of his was just him remembering the riff/lick from a popular song of the day, Martha and the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Streets.”
For comparison’s sake, here are YouTube videos of each of the two songs (I can’t speak to how long each of the videos will stay on YouTube)…
I don’t really see that close of a comparison between the two, but perhaps adding to Richards’ worry is the fact that the “I can’t get no satisfaction” line also appears in another song that he and Jagger were familiar with, as Jagger pointed out in a 1995 interview:
Keith wrote the lick. I think he had this lyric, I can’t get no satisfaction, which, actually, is a line in a Chuck Berry song called 30 Days… I can’t get no satisfaction from the judge… (T)hat was just one line, and then I wrote the rest of it. There was no melody, really.
Whether he was right to feel wary about the tune, Richards was not a supporter of the song, feeling that it was basically an unfinished song – perhaps worthy of a B-Side, but that was it. So when it came time to vote for what was to be the band’s next single, Richards voted against “Satisfaction” (so did Jagger).
However, everyone else voted FOR it, and, well, the rest is rock ‘n’ roll history, I suppose.
Thanks to Ian McPherson’s amazing Rolling Stones site, Time Is On Our Side, for the quotes and a lot of the information behind the makings of the song.
MUSIC LEGEND: Jon Bon Jovi’s first professional song recording was for a Star Wars Christmas Album.
One of the most truly bizarre pieces of popular culture is the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special…
The show had little involvement from George Lucas, and has only aired once (and it does not appear as though Lucas ever will approve a DVD release).
So it is pretty surprising, considering the failure of the project, that just two years later the Star Wars gang was right back with another Christmas-related project.
This time it was a Star Wars Christmas album, mostly sung by Anthony “C-3PO” Daniels!
Titled Christmas in the Stars….
the album followed (but was unconnected with) Meco Monardo’s 1977 hit album, Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk…
which contained the (in?)famous disco version of the Star Wars theme.
Meco produced this album.
Most of the songs were written by Maury Yeston, before he became a notable Broadway composer.
However, the aforementioned oddest performer was a young seventeen (almost eighteen) year old wannabe musician who was a younger cousin of one of the album’s producers, Tony Bongiovi.
Yep, only a few short years away from becoming a world famous musician under a variation of his given name as Jon Bon Jovi, lead singer of Bon Jovi, John Bongiovi sang lead on “R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” making it is his first professional recording!
How awesome is that?
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org