You’ve heard of the song “it’s a long way to the top” by the AC/DC band for the hard rock fans.
This is the band’s first song in TNT, their second album.
It was written by Bon Scott, Malcolm Young, and Angus Young and released only in New Zealand and Australia in 1975.
This song blends rock’n’roll instrumentation and bagpipes; in the song’s middle portion.
The first recording was in B-flat key, though when it was played live, they played in A key.
This is the original song to be internationally released in High Voltage.
The complete song version is on the Bonfire set’s Volts CD, launched in 1997. This song had sentimental value to Bon Scott.
After he died in 1980, he was replaced by Brian Johnson as the lead vocalist, who, in Bon Scott’s honor, never performs it.
“It’s a long way to the top” made it to 2018’s Triple M’s “Ozzfest 100.”
So, Who Played the Bagpipes for AC/DC?
Bon Scott. AC/DC band members decided to play the bagpipes after discovering that Bon Scott was in a play pipe band.
What Are the Lyrics About in “It’s a Long Way to the Top?”
This song talks about the difficulties survived by a touring rock band, like getting stoned, assaulted, robbed, and cheated by an avaricious agent.
Nevertheless, the band embraces these difficulties as part of the journey to fame; hence the song “It’s a long way to the top.”
How Did AC/DC Come up with Using Bagpipes in the Song?
When the band played this song in the studio, George Young, Malcolm and Angus’ older brother and the co-producer, remembered that Bon Scott had been in a pipe band.
Then, he urged the rest of the band members to try integrating bagpipes into the song.
On the same day, Scott bought bagpipes at a music store; remember that these weren’t cheap.
Later, Mark Evans, a fellow band member, commented that the bagpipes’ price tag would be enough to purchase two strats.
It was somewhat challenging to set up the bagpipes, and it was obvious that Scott didn’t know how to play this instrument despite being a drummer in the previously mentioned pipe band.
Still, he learned how to play, and eventually, it was good enough to integrate into the song. But initially, they used tape loops to record and perform.
That said, it was somewhat tricky to perform the song live as it would require the entire band to adjust to the drone pipe.
Hence, while this song was among the band’s best songs, it was among the least performed.
They performed it live less than 30 times.
In 1976, when they last performed the song live, there was an issue when Scott placed the bagpipes on the stage corner before performing at St.
Albans High School, Australia, where fans ruined them. Consequently, they used the song’s bagpipes recording and an extended guitar solo.
Who Are the Personnel in AC/DC Band?
The AC/DC band personnel are listed below.
- George Young and Harry Vanda – producers
- Bon Scott – Bagpipes, lead vocalist
- Phil Rudd – drummer
- Angus Young – Lead Guitarist
- Mark Evans – Bass guitarist
- Malcolm Young – Backing vocalists, rhythm guitar
How Was the Music Video Recorded?
“It’s a long way to the top” music video was taken on February 23, 1976, for the Australian Music TV countdown.
The video starred the band and Rats of Tobruk band members on a truck’s back touring Melbourne.
The video director was Paul Drane and the cameraman David Olney, with a $380 budget.
On May 24, 2010, it was uploaded on YouTube and was watched by more than 30 million viewers.
This song also has three more videos. One of the videos was taken on the day the truck video was taken.
It stars the band parodying the song in front of their audience in Melbourne City Square.
Also, the previously mentioned pipe band is featured in this version.
You can find it in the Backtrack box set or on YouTube, though it’s not complete.
The other version stars the band on a soundstage parodying the song; thus, it looks like it’s being played live.
This video is rare and hasn’t been released officially.
The last video version features the band on an Australian Program Bandstand performing the song on Channel 9, taken 48 hours before the initial two videos.
This video was uploaded on YouTube in 2021.
In the first two videos, Kevin Conlon, Les Kenfield, and Alan Butterworth play the bagpipes.
How Popular Did “It’s a Long Way to the Top” Become?
In 2001, APRA named the “It’s a long way to the top” the 9th on the list of the best Australian songs of all time on their 75th Anniversary.
An industry panel of 100 members decided this.
The song is frequently played on Sydney’s ANZ Stadium stoppages at AFL matches.
Again, it was utilized in the comedy School of Rock, released in 2003, at the end when Jack Black, in Dewey’s movie, is giving his children a lesson after school on rock music.
Plus, Black and the children performed this song in the battle of the bands.
On top of that, this song was featured in Only the Brave movie, released in 2017, during one of the firefight scenes.
In 2010, “It’s a long way to the top” was number 3 in Melbourne’s 500 Rock countdown by triple M.
That’s not all; the first five songs were from the AC/DC band.
In 2012, this song was introduced in the Sounds of Australia by the National Film & Sound Archives.
Episode 3 of Empire of Cricket, a documentary released in 2009 in Britain about cricket’s history; this song is repeatedly played during the opening credits.
This episode includes a comprehensive Australian Cricket history and how it rose to supremacy.
Moreover, It utilized this song for the closing phase of the 2010 Tour de France coverage.
This was the first time an Australian won this; Cadel Evans from BMC came first in the race.
The Golf channel regularly utilizes a section of the “It’s a long way to the top” song before the commercial breaks.
Again, this song was utilized in tandem with a promotional video for the Open Tennis Tournament in 2010 in Australia.
The guitarist of Keith Urban, Brian Nutter, plays this song on his solo part in live performances.
Plus, in 2017, this song was played by the Chicago Cubs together with a video played before they entered the field.
The first song version of “It’s a long way to the top” plays on the PA playlist before live performances.
Once the song is playing, the lights switch off, and a different song is played as Metallica gets on stage.
What Is the Connection between AC/DC and the ACDC Lane in Melbourne?
The Melbourne Corporation Lane was renamed ACDC Lane in respect to the band in October 2004.
In Melbourne Street, names do not have special characters or punctuation marks like “/.”
This change was mainly made because the first music video made for “It’s a long way to the top” was shot in Swanston Street, Melbourne, close to the now ACDC lane.
The city council of Melbourne members unanimously voted to rename this street after the AC/DC band.
At the renaming ceremony, the song “it’s a long way to the top” was played by bagpipers.
Did AC/DC Really Play Bagpipes?
Yes and no. AC/DC is a rock band; they didn’t play the bagpipes live in concert.
However, the band provided the music for “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll),” a song about an Australian surfer who becomes an international rock star.
The song was used in Quentin Tarantino’s film “Once Upon a Time in America” (1984), which has become a cult classic.
The soundtrack also featured AC/DC recordings that were instrumental for several scenes in the movie.
How Did Bon Scott from AC/DC Die?
Bon Scott, the former lead singer of AC/DC, died on 19 February 1980. He was found in his car at 3:45 AM, dead from alcohol poisoning after binge drinking.
His death was widely viewed as an accident.
Why Did Axl Rose Sing For AC/DC?
Axl Rose sings for AC/DV to replace Brian Johnson.
Even though he’s one of the biggest rock stars in history, Guns N’ Roses Frontman Axl Rose is only a small part of the story in AC/DC’s split-up.
The band’s primary songwriters, Malcolm and Angus Young, no longer wanted to work with singer Brian Johnson or guitarist Rose.
Did Bon Scott Play the Bagpipes On “It’s A Long Way To The Top”?
Yes, Bon Scott did play the bagpipes on It’s a Long Way to the Top.
The song has been voted one of the Best Hard Rock Songs of All Time, and it was written about the experiences that were faced by rock stars to get them where they are.
If you listen to the part where Scott plays the bagpipes, you can hear him singing: “I feel like a raggedy man.”
Well, there you have it; all you need to know about the AC/DC band. Didn’t know who played the bagpipes for AC/DC? Now you know!
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