The Truth Behind AC/DC’s ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’

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March 21st, 2022 marked the 45th anniversary of the release of the album “Let There Be Rock”, the fourth album by the Australian band. It has songs that have gone down in history and have enjoyed a good position in the setlist of many tours of the group. Songs like “Dog Eat Dog” or the one that gives the album its name “Let There Be Rock” are among the most remembered, but there is a song that has a more than surprising story behind it.

This is the case of “Whole Lotta Rose”, which was born from a night in which its vocalist Bon Scott was wandering the streets.

“Bon had gone out one night after we’d been playing. He’d just been wandering the streets around the little club areas,” guitarist Angus Young told Guitar World in 2000. “And he was walking past this street and this girl grabbed him from a doorway. She pulled him in and said, ‘Hey, Bon, in here.’ And he thought, ‘Hey, why not?’ The girl was there with her girlfriend, and he spent the night.

“This girl who was with Bon, she was a fair size girl,” Young continued. “I mean, they didn’t have Weight Watchers then. She said, ‘Bon, these last few months I’ve been with 28 famous people.’ And she was giving him the lowdown of politicians and different people she’d been out with and whatever. Anyhow, the next morning Bon woke up sort of pinned to the wall. The girl thought Bon was still sleeping. She leaned across to her girlfriend, who was sharing the room, and she said, ‘Twenty-nine.’

“Her name being Rosie, Bon thought it was a great title for a song,” Young concluded. “He said this girl was worthy of being put into a piece of poetry.”

“We were always big fans of early rock and roll, like Elvis [Presley] and ‘Heartbreak Hotel,’ things like that — the stop-and-start things, the dynamics,” guitarist Malcolm Young said in Arnaud Durieux and Murray Engleheart’s 2006 book AC/DC: Maximum Rock ‘N’ Roll. “If anything, for ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ we were looking for a feel like Little Richard, a good old steamin’ rock feel, and see what we could lay on top with the guitars. It evolved into that, but you’re just looking for the vibe, what’s exciting – and that’s what we were listening to.”

This song was not just another name for an album that is remembered only for the Bon Scott anecdote, far from it. “Whole Lotta Rosie” was released the following year from ‘Let There Be Rock’ as a single and became a favorite of the band. For this reason, it has been played a total of 1644 times in their concerts, the second in the entire history of the band only behind “The Jack”.

“Whole Lotta Rosie” is the last track from AC/DC’s fourth studio album, Let There Be Rock, released in 1977 on Atlantic Records. The song was primarily written by Bon Scott in collaboration with the group’s founders Angus and Malcolm Young.