Former AC/DC bassist Mark Evans has reflected on his time with Australia’s hard rock legends, his dismissal from the band, and tensions between the Acca Dacca camp and Black Sabbath.
Evans, who currently plays with Rose Tattoo, recently sat down with Let There Be Talk, in a lengthy discussion that saw him delve into his personal history with the band; his audition, the fledgling tours, Bon Scott and recording Let There Be Rock.
The bassist worked with AC/DC between 1975 and 1977, recording four of the band’s most beloved record, T.N.T, High Voltage, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and Let There Be Rock.
During the interview, Evans delved into getting sacked from the AC/DC fold following a spat between guitarist Malcolm Young and Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath.
“Well, when it happened – it wasn’t so much a surprise, but it was still a bit of a shock. The band hit a little bit of a flat spot. We were touring in Europe with Black Sabbath – we were going to finish in Helsinki [Finland], and then we were going to be going straight to the States,” he recalled.
“But in that period, when we went back and started the European tour – it was very early 1977. The label in the States – they dropped the band! They were out so we didn’t have a deal in America. Because they heard ‘Dirty Deeds’ and said, ‘Nah, we’re not releasing it.’ Seems incredible now but that was it.
“So that sort of destabilized the band, had things a bit rocky. And then we were out in the road with Black Sabbath, and a few things happened on that tour.”
Love Classic Rock?
Get the latest Classic Rock news, features, updates and giveaways straight to your inbox Learn more
Check out ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ by AC/DC:
Evans went on to acknowledge that a noxious cocktail of high-tensions within the band and his relationship with alcohol led to the disintegration of his relationship with the band. He also offered juicy details about the beef between the AC/DC and Black Sabbath camps.
“I had a bit of a run-in with Angus. I think I got up in his nose about something maybe, but maybe if I had been a bit more mature and maybe not drank so much, I would be able to handle the situation better,” he explained.
“And then Malcolm got into a stink with [Black Sabbath bassist] Geezer Butler for some reason. I don’t know how it happened, but Malcolm had a full dance card with the drinks at night, and he went back to the hotel with Black Sabbath. I wasn’t there, but for some reason, he ended up knocking out Geezer Butler.”
He continued, “I don’t know why but he knocked him, he KO’d him. But there was a story that someone had a gun or someone had a knife. And the next morning, when we were going out of town, Mal said, ‘I’ve got to stop at the hotel and go in there.’
“What was he doing going into the Black Sabbath hotel? Because we really wouldn’t have anything to do with a lot of other bands, except we had a fair bit to do with Ozzy [Osbourne] because Bon [Scott] and Ozzy sort of linked up. If you want a wild night on the river in Hamburg – go out with Ozzy and Bon together. Man, a wrecking machine.
“Anyway, Malcolm ended up clocking Geezer, went to the hotel, he would come outside – it’s not looking good – and we got kicked off the tour. So we had about a month left, and that day we got thrown off the tour because of it. And then there was much gnashing of teeth.”
Evans went on to detail the brutal way he found out he had gotten the flick, news he was made aware of on his 21st birthday.
“During that period, I turned 21 years old. So we were in London and the guys threw me a great, great party in this German beer seller on Edgware Road – a monster of a party,” he recounted.
“The person who shall remain nameless at this stage – it was someone who was a brother of someone who was around the band – come up to me and said, ‘Oh, happy birthday, mate. There’s a great party you have in here, that’s really good. So how come you’re leaving the band?’
“And I went, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Yeah, yeah, you’re finishing up soon, I believe I got told.’ ‘Hey, what are you fucking talking about?’ That was it, that’s how I found out I was going out of the band. That’s why I bailed out from the party. I said, ‘Fuck this!’ and took off.
“And they had like a cake and ‘Happy Birthday Mark,’ and all that, and I wasn’t there! I got the shits, went outside, caught a cab, went to the speakeasy, and then got myself tanked up at the speakeasy. I ran into a couple of guys in different bands, I was happy, I had a birthday party at the speakeasy with a couple of guys from other bands.
“I just batted it up, I just thought it gotta be fucking around. But, anyway, it wasn’t. But that’s life, man, shit happens. And you asked about the actual meeting, and it was put to me at that stage by Malcolm that they wanted to get someone in that can do backing vocals.”
He continued, “So that’s what it was. I think it went deeper than that. And they said, ‘Well, you don’t sing.’ No one asked me! I actually do sing. I do, I’ve always done something. I’ve been doing backing vocals in AC/DC. In ‘T.N.T.’, I’ll go, ‘Oi, oi, oi’ – I’m on the record doing that.”
Despite being hit with that devastating blow, Mark Evans holds no grudge towards AC/DC.
“But I like a philosophical attitude, some people could get bent out of shape by something like that, that happened, but I look back and I’ve just nothing to put but good memories. A lot of love and respect for the band.”