And the winner of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC signed poster is…

ac-dcThe Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC Prize Winner:

L. Heinrich, Chatswood, NSW

The prize:

A laminated poster of THE YOUNGS signed by

– Author Jesse Fink
– AC/DC bass player Mark Evans (Let There Be Rock, TNT, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap)
– AC/DC drummer Tony Currenti (High Voltage, ’74 Jailbreak, Bonfire, Backtracks)

the-youngsThe Youngs

by Jesse Fink

With sales of over 200 million albums, AC/DC is not just the biggest rock band in the world. It’s a family business built by three brothers: George, Malcolm and Angus Young. And, as with any business, some people prospered while others got hurt along the way.

The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC is unlike any AC/DC book you’ve read before. Less a biography, more a critical appreciation, it tells the story of the trio through 11 classic songs and reveals some of the personal and creative secrets that went into their making. Important figures from AC/DC’s long way to the top open up for the very first time, while unsung heroes behind the band’s success are given the credit they are due.

Accepted accounts of events are challenged while sensational new details emerge to cast a whole new light on the band’s history – especially their early years with Atlantic Records in the United States. Former AC/DC members and musicians from bands such as Guns N’ Roses, Dropkick Murphys, Airbourne and Rose Tattoo also give their perspectives on the Youngs’ brand of magic.

Their music has never pulled its punches. Neither does The Youngs. After 40 years, AC/DC might just have got the serious book it deserves.

Grab a copy of The Youngs here

Congratulations to the winner!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here

Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, answers Six Sharp Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Jesse Fink

author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC

Six Sharp Questions


1. Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?

The Youngs is a tribute to three extraordinary Scottish-Australian brothers – George, Angus and Malcolm Young – who changed the face of rock music around the world. It’s a critical appreciation that is told through the stories of 11 important Young songs, starting with The Easybeats’ ‘Good Times’ through to AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’; not a traditional biography. It’s the 40th anniversary of AC/DC’s formation in November and they’ve come a long way in that time to be the biggest band in the world. The Young brothers hurt a few people getting there. They’re very tough businessmen as well as being superb musicians. Last year they were adjudged to be worth about $300 million and didn’t make any music.

It’s my third book, a real departure from my last one, Laid Bare, and it was a lot of fun to write. It’s not just another AC/DC book. It’s offering something different. It tells a new story.

Grab a copy of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC here

2. Times pass. Things change. What are the best and worst moments that you have experienced in the past year or so?

Getting an agent at a top literary agency in New York was probably the highlight, plus getting a film agent for Laid Bare in Hollywood. Having the right people in your corner makes all the difference to an author’s career. The Youngs is being published in the United States and I’m really looking forward to that.

Low point? A close personal friend losing her mother to cancer and then her father having a heart attack the same week. That put a lot of things in perspective for me. Live your life now rather than later.

3. Do you have a favourite quote or passage you would be happy to share with us?

It’s a line from Tony Currenti, one of the drummers on AC/DC’s 1975 debut album, High Voltage, who walked away from music in 1977 and opened up a pizzeria. He hasn’t touched a drum kit since, despite his playing appearing on AC/DC releases (High Voltage, ’74 Jailbreak, Backtracks, Bonfire) that have sold millions. I asked him why he didn’t continue with music.

He replied: “It was easy to give it away. With a pizza shop it’s not possible to be a musician. It’s one or the other.” I’m still laughing at that. Quote of a lifetime. He played with AC/DC for god’s sake, was even asked to join the band, and he gave it all up to work with pizza dough. He’s a wonderful character.

4. Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it? Please tell us a little about the day to day of your writing life.

Completely conform to the stereotype. I don’t start the day without a coffee at my favourite café in Potts Point and might as well live there. I’d like to. They took out the power points in spite of me. I do a bit of work on my laptop – the low-level ambient noise helps, I find – then I go for a run to the Opera House and back, stopping by my local gym. Running helps me formulate ideas and I always listen to music when I’m doing it. In the afternoons I go back to the café and do more writing on my laptop.

When I’m in book mode I tend to obsess a bit with rewrites and edits and that will see me work well into the early hours of the morning. It’s very hard to maintain a relationship while writing a book. You are consumed by the work, even when you’re not sitting down, writing. The majority of the work is mental: just thinking about what you’re going to write.

This book also involved a fair bit of travelling, research and countless hours spent trying to lock down interviews with people who had never been interviewed before. Plus many more hours of transcribing: an onerous task. I’m a crappy typist.

5. Some writers claim not to be influenced by the needs of the marketplace, while others seem obsessed by it. Would you please describe how the marketplace affects your writing (come on, tell the truth!).

The marketplace has never determined what I’ve written or how I’ve written it. I’ve always approached a project being absolutely passionate about the subject rather than motivated by commercial opportunity. You don’t write books for the money. But I certainly appreciate the need to market books in a certain way and I learned a lot from Laid Bare, especially how writers are marketed and the crucial role of marketing in modern publishing. The fact that AC/DC was having their 40th anniversary in 2013 was just a bonus.

I wanted to write the book for other, more personal reasons, which I explain in the book. The Youngs aren’t going out of their way to write it themselves. They’re notoriously private.

6. Unlikely Scenario: You’ve been charged with civilising twenty ill-educated adolescents but you may take only five books with you. What do you take and why?

You would probably want to select books that will awaken their sense of wonder, that are fun to read, that compel them to think about their place in the world, what they can contribute, and what it means to be human. So war/genocide, sex/relationships, popular culture, travel and soccer (the sport the world plays) are good places to start: Swimming to Cambodia by Spalding Gray, Fear of Flying by Erica Jong, If You’re Talking To Me, Your Career Must Be In Trouble by Joe Queenan, Chasing The Monsoon by Alexander Frater and The Hand of God by Jimmy Burns.

Jesse, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC here

GUEST BLOG: Five Important Books About AC/DC by Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC

With sales of over 200 million albums, AC/DC is not just the biggest rock band in the world. It’s a family business built by three brothers: George, Malcolm and Angus Young. And, as with any business, some people prospered while others got hurt along the way.

The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC is unlike any AC/DC book you’ve read before. Less a biography, more a critical appreciation, it tells the story of the trio through 11 classic songs and reveals some of the personal and creative secrets that went into their making.

As part of Booktoberfest, author Jesse Fink guides you through five other important books about the world’s biggest band: AC/DC.

highway-to-hellHighway To Hell
by Clinton Walker

A biography of Bon Scott published back in 1994. Walker is a very good writer and didn’t get a lot of help from the Youngs or their camp for this book. Actually, like all the band’s biographers, he got diddly squat. Big mistake on their part.

He wasn’t afraid to dish it up to the Youngs, describing them as “a closed shop, uniformly suspicious, paranoid almost, possessed of the virtual opposite of Bon’s generosity, prone to sullenness… Angus and Malcolm had this incredible tunnel vision where no one else counted . . . insularity bordering on paranoia”. Strong stuff.

Bon emerges as a true Australian larrikin antihero and this book did a lot to cement his legend. I have a lot of admiration for the work that was involved in this book… more

Highway To Hell
by Joe Bonomo

Not to be confused with the Walker tome, this is about the crucial 1979 album produced by Zambian mega-producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange”, also of Foreigner, Maroon 5, Shania Twain, Bryan Adams and Def Leppard fame.

It was published by Continuum as part of the “33 1/3” series. It’s slim, really a long essay rather than a book, but Bonomo brings a fresh American perspective on the AC/DC story by writing from the point of view of a young man growing up in Wheaton, Maryland, hearing this landmark album from these wild colonial boys for the first time and, like me and every AC/DC fan, being blown the f*** away by it.

He strongly denounces AC/DC for their lyrics to “Night Prowler”, a song that unfortunately came to be associated with the Richard Ramirez killings in California in the early 1980s (Ramirez was a fan of AC/DC). The band claimed the song was simply about a guy sneaking into his girlfriend’s room late at night. Bonomo disagrees: “Bon Scott’s more treacherous imagery pushes the song into regrettably mean places. I’m not sure that the band can have it both ways.” He’s absolutely right. How else do you explain the lyrics, And you don’t feel the steel/Till it’s hanging out your back?… more

Dirty Deeds: My Life Inside and Outside of AC/DC
by Mark Evans

The first autobiography by a current or former member of AC/DC. Mark got treated poorly by the Youngs. He was sacked in 1977 and has plenty of reasons to take off the gloves – such as his being denied induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003; a disgraceful decision – but largely doesn’t.

That said, he doesn’t avoid being critical of his former bandmates, such as his description of Angus and Malcolm as being “morose, grumpy, sullen and generally not too much fun to be around”. As a piece of writing, this book is straightforward but there are some lovely passages and at points it’s deeply personal, moving and poignant.

Mark’s not afraid to show his sensitive side and that’s to his immense credit… more

AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll
by Murray Engleheart with Arnaud Durieux

Not the “definitive” biography it claims to be and appears to be from its enormous heft, but what’s “definitive” anyway?

This book has a lot of useful information and was the product of years of intensive research but it just reads like a laundry list of shows and album releases.

It could have benefited from more structure and a lot more critical analysis.

Too many AC/DC books are hagiographies. This isn’t one but it comes close… more

AC/DC: Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be
by Mick Wall

Again, another brick of a book embracing a conventional biographical format, but the difference is Wall is much more strident with his opinions.

If you’ve read Highway To Hell by Walker and AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll by Engleheart, in my view this is really only super-essential for hardcore fans of the band.

It’s most notable for his theory about the circumstances of Bon Scott’s death in 1980, involving the possible role of heroin… more



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