Why AC/DC Never Play ‘It’s a Long Way To The Top’ - Noise11.com
Angus Young AC/DC Etihad Stadium, Rock Or Bust World Tour. Photo by Ros O'Gorman

Angus Young AC/DC Etihad Stadium, Rock Or Bust World Tour. Photo by Ros O'Gorman

Why AC/DC Never Play ‘It’s a Long Way To The Top’

by Paul Cashmere on November 22, 2020

in News

AC/DC have rarely performed the classic ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock n Roll)’. The song was only played at AC/DC shows between 1975 and 1979. During that time they performed it 235 times which is a lot, but then as an Australian pub band it was not usual for the band to play seven times a week and sometimes twice on the same day.

In the 235 times AC/DC played ‘It’s a Long Way To The Top’ live 233 of those times were in 1975 and 1976. It was only played twice ever again, on 30 January 1977 in Sydney and then for the last time on 17 December 1979 in London.

Former AC/DC bass player Mark Evans recalls not playing it much at all. “If we played it maybe 60 / 70 times live that would be it,” he tells Noise11.com. “Someone sent me a bootleg of us playing it at Hobart Town Hall and it was like listening to another song. It was uptempo, well it’s a rock and roll song anyway, its almost like Chuck Berry rock and roll. We didn’t play it a lot and I think it had a lot to do with the bagpipes. In time it became iconic and associated with the band but oddly enough the band doesn’t play it. It has become a lot bigger song in time than when it first came out. When it first came out it was relatively successful for us as a single in Australia but ‘Jailbreak’, ‘High Voltage’ and TNT’ were certainly a lot bigger. It was our first single in England and it disappeared in England pretty quickly.

‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’ peaked at number nine in Australia but failed to chart in ever other country in the world.

AC/DC performed ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’ for the very first time on 20 January, 1975 at Jools in Sydney. It was in the setlist for the second time the following night at the Station Hotel in Melbourne.

‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’ became Bon Scott’s anthem. Following his death, Brian Johnson has never performed it out of respect for Bon.

The song does pop up regularly at John Farnham concerts. Farnham has been ending his show for decades with the AC/DC classic.

Keith Urban also drops it into his set.

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