By March 11, 2015 Read More →

Rockin’ with AC/DC

Rockin’ with AC/DC
By Russ Allsup

I opened up Facebook last Friday and saw a post that my friend Shaunna had shared and I had been tagged by my friend Liz, that said “AC/DC Seeks 150 Fans for Los Angeles-Area video shoot”. It went on to say that the band were in town to perform at the Grammy Awards and shooting a video for the song “Rock The Blues Away” from their new album “Rock or Bust” two days after the Grammys and need 150 fans to be in the video.

I usually don’t have much luck with contests like these, but this was my favorite band of all time and I live in Los Angeles, so I figured I’d give it a shot. It took about 30 seconds to fill out the form and that was that.

I was pretty certain nothing would come of it- this was a video for one of the most popular rock bands of all time, they only need 150 people, and I knew thousands would be trying to be on their video. Imagine my surprise when I woke up Sunday morning, opened my email, and saw an email from Columbia records. I was sure it would be a letter saying ‘Thank you for your entry in the AC/DC video shoot, but unfortunately you were not chosen. Thanks for entering.

I opened the email and could not believe my eyes as I read the beautiful words “You’ve been selected for the AC/DC LA video shoot”. I actually went numb with delighted shock. It was truly one of those ‘pinch me’ moments that don’t happen enough in life. Letting out a big “YES!”, I actually gave a crazy giggle (I am not one prone to giggling. Okay maybe once or twice before when something like this has happened) and honestly felt a bit light headed.

Thank you Shaunna and Liz for bringing the whole contest to my attention. I owe you both big time and will always be grateful. After I got over the initial shock, I excitedly called some friends and tried to act normal until the next day.

First, some history of my love for the mighty AC/DC. I first heard them around sixth grade, when my friend Johnny Epperson played their ‘Highway To Hell’ eight-track tape to my brother and me. After that, I bought an eight track of Back in Black that got worn out in my family’s Chrysler Cordoba. One thing I loved about them, besides their bluesy, hopped up rhythm and blues style of hard rock, was that they were very mysterious to me.

In the years before MTV and the internet, the only time I saw AC/DC was on their album covers and once on a magical Don Kirshners rock concert tv show that just bowled me over at the time. After that, I finally got to see the movie of AC/DC in concert, “Let There Be Rock” when it played at the midnight movies in my hometown. When I witnessed Angus Young moving around like a Tasmanian devil,

my jaw literally hit the floor. I’ve still to this day never seen anyone move like he does. I was just in complete awe of how Angus could play such blazing lead solos and move faster and more than Mick Jagger, Elvis, Pete Townsend, you name it- nobody else comes close when it comes to purely letting a song take control of every fiber of their entire body. The guy literally sweats buckets.

I’ve been lucky enough to see the band in concert about ten times now, starting back in 1985 at the Oakland Coliseum. Once you see them live, there’s no turning back- you’re hooked. In 1993, I got lucky and was an audience member in a video for their song ‘Big Gun’, from the soundtrack for the movie “Last Action Hero”, with them and Arnold Schwarzenegger. There must’ve been some law about paying extras in videos because they gave each of us a nickel at the end for being in the vid.

On the day of the video shoot, Tuesday, Feb. 10th, I got ready, hopped in my car and headed out for what I anticipated to be an adventure I’d always remember. The email had stated for everyone to meet at one of my favorite places in Los Angeles, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. I love the place because of the life size Johnny Ramone statue they have there, complete with guitar in hands and in classic Ramones rocking-out pose. Also Johnny’s band mate Dee Dee Ramone is buried there.

I assumed the video was being filmed there, but then we all boarded buses down Santa Monica Blvd. to what I thought would be a big soundstage at a movie studio. To my very pleasant surprise, we pulled up to one of the smallest bars in Hollywood. I’d been to Dragonfly to see the guys in Jane’s Addiction play around 2003, so I knew how incredibly small the stage was there. The stage is roughly about the size of 3 small cars parked close to each other- a very far cry from the arena stages I’d seen the band on before.

This was going to be good- REAL good!

As we got off the buses and went inside, I ran towards the stage and saw one small empty open spot, just to the right of the drums. I went to stage, leaned against it and rested my elbows on the very stage where in just minutes my heroes would be. Looking around, the scene was a smoky little club with a stage packed with drums and guitar amps. Rock fans and film cameras filled the club and the director told the audience what they were supposed to do- go crazy like they would at any AC/DC concert.

When the band came out, the whole place went completely crazy and stayed that way through all eight filmed takes- five complete takes of the band playing “Rock The Blues Away” in front of the audience, and 3 takes of the audience rocking out as if the band were playing. During the times when the band played in front of us, I gave it my all, rocking my head up and down, letting the hair fly to the beat

and headbanging till it felt like my neck was going to snap. So much so, that when Angus came in front of me to do his guitar solo every time, I had to ease up just a tiny bit so my hair wouldn’t get caught in the tuning pegs of his guitar- he was RIGHT in front of me for his solo during each take.

I was in rock n’ roll heaven! Afterwards, the band posed for some quick pictures. I was lucky enough to get a photo in front of the band and a guitar pick from the bass player, Cliff williams. As we emptied out of the bar and boarded the bus for the ride back to the cemetery, I was completely euphoric and had a smile a mile wide. We arrived back at the cemetery, and I stopped by the Johnny Ramone statue, then Dee Dee Ramones grave, and thanked the rock n’ roll Gods for a night that I’ll never forget.

As I drove off into the night through Hollywood and thought about just how much I truly love music, but especially rock music, the words that of the AC/DC song echoed through my mind- It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.

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