THE GIRL IN THE SONG

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Whole Lotta Rosie (A Young/ B Scott/ M Young) – AC/DC 1978

ACDC27By the time AC/DC returned to Australia in 1977 after their initial tour of the UK, they were at a low ebb, the band had been caught up in the punk rock backlash precipitated by the Sex Pistols, even though the Youngs’ had vehemently rejected claims that they were anything other than a hard rock band, with no pretensions to the faddishness nor contrived fury of the British punk bands. But Atlantic Records in the US were losing patience, they had rejected the Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap album, and the band had been forced to accept a more unfavourable financial deal on the remaining albums in their original contract.ACDC20The band needed to record an album that would convince all the naysayers of their hard rock credibility, they returned to Alberts Sydney studio in January 1977 to record one of their best albums – the fast, furious, carnal, high octane, Let There Be Rock. No AC/DC album embodies the band’s hard rock credo better than this album, it had a raw edge, a manic intensity, and a streetwise attitude that appealed to punks and headbangers alike. The title track was fast, furious, blistering rock and roll, Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be was AC/DC’s own Brown Sugar, the guitars were often out of tune, feedback threatened to flood some tracks, but mistakes were tolerated if the vibe was strong enough, the energy audibly crackled over the speakers on tracks like Overdose and Bad Boy Boogie, which were more sweaty, swaggering, anthemic serves of hard rock.ACDC26Recorded mostly live-in-the-studio with the trusted production team of Harry Vanda and George Young, the album featured two tracks that would become rock classics and live performance favourites over the years. The first was Let There Be Rock, which was pure Bon Scott burlesque, claiming to chart the history of rock and roll music from the Chuck Berry hypothesis that Beethoven rolled over and told Tchaikovsky the news, and Angus virtually melted down in the process of delivering the goods.ACDC28The other track was Whole Lotta Rosie, one of the most famous songs ever inspired by a girl in the history of rock and roll, but this was no hearts and flowers tribute to a sensitive muse, the lady in question was a nineteen stone (120 kilogram) beauty whose appetite for sexual gymnastics belied her fuller figure, and she had a uncanny knack of keeping score, when rock stars strayed onto her radar. The occasion on which Bon Scott encountered Rosie varies depending upon who is providing the narrative, Angus Young recalled a  fuller-figured groupie duo known as the “Jumbo Jets”, one of who was the ubiquitous Rosie, who the band first encountered on tour in Queenstown (Tasmania), and Bon vividly remembered her vital statistics as 42-39-56.ACDC29Bon Scott also recalled that the band were staying the night after a gig at the Freeway Gardens Hotel in North Melbourne, located at the mouth of the Tullamarine Freeway and completely devoid of any gardens or landscaping, and he again hooked up with Rosie. She was all of  6 foot two or 187cm and Bon recalls this meeting “She was so big she sort of closed the door and put it on ya’, half your body soon disappeared, and she was too big to say no to. Then she used to look up and see what band was in town and say “hi over there boys” and we’d go over and have a party. She came to one of our shows, she was from Tasmania actually, and she was in the front row. She was like 6’2 and like 19 stone 12 pounds (around 266lbs). That girl was some mountain, so you can imagine the problems I had. So I just sorta had to succumb … I had to do it. Oh my God, I wish I hadn’t.” After the deed was done Bon recalled that Rosie then called out to her friend, “that’s the 37th this month”, and produced a black book where she had recorded her conquests.

The song has all the nasty, raw-edged, manic intensity one would associate with rough sex, musically it was based on a Chuck Berry song No Money Down and in its final form was a none too subtle pastiche of Led Zeppelin’s orgasmic Whole Lotta Love. When it was released as a single in 1978 it was heavily edited with the removal of much of the guitar solo and guitar-band duels heard in live performances, but it still charted creditably in Belgium (#12), Netherlands (#5) and the UK (#36). At live shows performances of Whole Lotta Rosie are accompanied by a giant, inflatable “Rosie”, and the clip included here is a particularly raucous rendition of the song at the River Plate Football Stadium in Buenos Aries in  front of 70,000 ecstatic fans, a giant Rosie gyrates, the crowd shouts “Angus” in between each of the opening riffs, and Angus duckwalks down the giant runway through the heaving crowd, to deliver one of his trademark blistering guitar solos.

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