Was AC/DC Named After a Slang Term for Bisexuality?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC URBAN 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.

Sp I’m going with the legend as…

STATUS: False

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

2 Responses to “Was AC/DC Named After a Slang Term for Bisexuality?”

  1. I just thought I’d mention that Joan Jett’s song ‘AC/DC’ was a cover of an old Sweet song from the mid-’70s. It first appeared (in the US, anyway) on their album ‘Desolation Boulevard’, the same album as ‘Fox On The Run’, ‘Action’, and ‘Ballroom Blitz’.

  2. Thanks for the info, Mary!

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