AC/DC, the powerhouse of rock ‘n’ roll, is known for their no-nonsense approach to music. Keeping it simple and getting straight to the point is their mantra. Every riff that emanates from the Young brothers’ guitars is a sonic punch to the gut, from the thunderous ‘TNT’ to the unforgettable ‘You Shook Me All Night Long.’ However, there is one AC/DC track that even Angus Young, the master of simplicity, admits can be a bit tricky.
As AC/DC entered the 1980s, they were recovering from the devastating loss of their frontman, Bon Scott, to alcohol poisoning.
Determined to carry on, they brought in Brian Johnson from the band Geordie as their new lead singer for the comeback album, “Back in Black.”
While fans embraced the band’s tribute to their fallen comrade, the ensuing years saw AC/DC oscillating between the pinnacle of their career with massive hits and albums that adhered to their tried-and-true formula. Despite the success of songs like ‘For Those About to Rock,’ it wasn’t until the early 1990s and the release of “The Razor’s Edge” that AC/DC regained household name status.
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The album featured the iconic hit ‘Thunderstruck,’ featuring Angus Young’s blistering guitar lick that never relents throughout the entire song.
While the track remains a live staple, Angus admits that this particular guitar figure still gives him a run for his money from time to time.
Initially, Angus didn’t intend to turn this lick into a song. He used it as a warm-up exercise on his acoustic guitar. However, his brother Malcolm eventually convinced him to give it a shot, and it evolved into the massive, adrenaline-pumping riff that continues to ignite stadium crowds.
Although the notes Angus plays in ‘Thunderstruck’ are relatively simple when broken down, the challenge lies in executing the pull-offs correctly. This demands precision and dexterity from his fretting hand, ensuring that every note is articulated flawlessly.
When playing it live, Angus must dedicate time to warm up his fingers for the song.
“It’s got an unrelenting intricacy. I have to be confident whenever I play it.”
Interestingly, despite Angus’s propensity for showmanship during live performances, he didn’t feel the need to get flashy while recording ‘Thunderstruck.’ He initially picked the riff on the track to give the notes a sharper attack, creating a powerful sonic impact. In a catalog known for its simplicity, ‘Thunderstruck’ stands out as the one track where it’s perfectly acceptable to let the guitar skills shine a bit brighter.