Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot Recalls “Unbelievably Exciting” AC/DC Tour


Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot shared his memories of supporting rockers AC/DC on their Highway To Hell Tour of 1979. 

The Def Leppard co-founder observed the late Malcolm Young and co up close and personal during their tour, calling it “unbelivably exciting”.

“watched them like hawks”

Joe Elliot added that his band learned so much from watching AC/DC every night on that tour.

“We watched them like hawks every night”, he revealed. “We wanted to learn, and one of the big lessons was the value of repetition, which is a key ingredient to longterm success. Most artists don’t want to repeat themselves, but if you want to stay in the game you don’t change your set every night. AC/DC never changed their sound, their look or their work ethic”. 

Elliot also added, “The Glasgow Apollo shows were the most memorable for me. The first night, I went up to the balcony when AC/DC went on. They started off with Live Wire, and that balcony… My god, I thought it was going to come down with all these people jumping around going bonkers. It was like a fucking trampoline! For a few minutes I was terrified. So I just f****** legged it. I watched the rest of the show from the side of the stage”. 

“They looked after us”

This tour also saw AC/DC fronted by Bon Scott, a man who came in for particular praise from Elliot. Scott fronted AC/DC until his death in 1980. He was replaced by current frontman Brian Johnson. 

“Bon was an amazing frontman”, Elliot stated. “Every night, he wore a sleeveless denim jacket, no shirt, and he was in good shape for a guy who drank so much. But it was the expression in his face that I remember most. He looked like he didn’t give a shit. I don’t mean he didn’t give a shit about being in tune or in time, he just had this facial expression that said he was living in the moment”.

“They looked after us”, Elliot said. “We had good lights and sound, and we went down really well with their audience. There wasn’t much socialising, but the overall vibe of the two bands together was pretty damn good. It wasn’t that AC/DC weren’t friendly, we just never saw much of them. But the one guy who was really personable was Bon Scott”. 

He also added, “I remember we happened to be in the same hotel as them one night, we had four straws in one pint, and Bon threw a tenner down and said: ‘Here you are, lads! Go buy yourselves a round.’ Sadly I never had the chance to pay him back”.