AC/DC – Whole Lotta Rosie

This is one of the first AC/DC songs I was familiar with when I was around 11 years old. My older cousin was a huge fan and would play the live If You Want Blood You’ve Got It album constantly. It was a few years later before I heard the studio version of the song.

As with most of their songs it started with an excellent guitar riff and doesn’t relent.

The song was originally on the Let There Be Rock album released in 1977. It was released as a single in 1978 as a live cut and didn’t do much but then the live cut was reissued again in 1979 and peaked at #36 in the UK in 1980.

This song is about a large woman that lead singer Bon Scott had relations with early in the band’s career. I’ll let Bon and Angus tell the tale.

Bon Scott: “We were all staying in the same hotel and this chick Rosie lived across the road. She was so big she sort of closed the door and put it on ya’, half your body, 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.”

Angus Young: We’d been in Tasmania and after the show [Bon Scott] said he was going to check out a few clubs. He said he’d got about 100 yards down the street when he heard this yell: ‘Hey! Bon!’ He looked around and saw this leg and thought: ‘Oh well!’ From what he said, there was this Rosie woman and a friend of hers. They were plying him with drinks and Rosie said to him: ‘This month I’ve slept with 28 famous people,’ and Bon went: ‘Oh yeah?!’ Anyway, in the morning he said he woke up pinned against the wall, he said he opened one eye and saw her lean over to her friend and whisper: ’29!’ There’s very few people who’ll go out and write a song about a big fat lady, but Bon said it was worthy.

From Songfacts

 In a 1976 interview with the band for Sounds magazine, their guitarist Malcolm Young prodded Scott to tell the story about “the fat one.” Scott explained that backstage at a show in Australia, a rotund woman they called “Big Bertha” came forward when he asked, “Who wants it?” Too frightened to refuse, he did the deed with Bertha, who then called to her friend, “that’s the 37th this month,” and produced a black book where she recorded her conquests. Scott turned the incident into a song, this time naming the woman “Rosie.”

In their early days, the band shared a house in Australia where lots of unsavory incidents occurred. This gave them material for songs like this one and “The Jack.” Bon Scott had great affection for the full-size girls, and occasionally put his conquests in his songs. Another song on the album, “Go Down,” mentions Ruby Lips, who is another real person. This is confirmed in the Let There Be Rock liner notes.

The music is based on the Chuck Berry song “No Money Down.” 

Originally released on the Let There Be Rock album, this song didn’t get much publicity until AC/DC re-released it a year later on If You Want Blood, You Got It when the band became internationally popular.

This song was covered and performed live by Guns N’ Roses. Nearly a decade later, Axl Rose cited an article in Melody Maker comparing the original AC/DC lineup to Guns N’ Roses as the inspiration for covering this song.

Originally, there were two versions of this song. The first was called “Dirty Eyes” and was eventually released in 1997 on the Bonfire boxed set.

Whole Lotta Rosie

Wanna tell you story
About woman I know
When it comes to lovin’
She steals the show
She ain’t exactly pretty
Ain’t exactly small
Fourt’two thirt’ninefiftysix
You could say she’s got it all

Never had a woman
Never had a woman like you
Doin’ all the things
Doin’ all the things you do
Ain’t no fairy story
Ain’t no skin and bones
But you give it all you got
Weighin’ in at nineteen stone
You’re a whole lotta woman
A whole lotta woman
Whole lotta Rosie
Whole lotta Rosie
Whole lotta Rosie
And you’re a whole lotta woman

Honey you can do it
Do it to me all night long
Only one who turn me
Only one who turn me on
All through the night time
Right around the clock
To my surprise
Rosie never stops
She was a whole lotta woman
Whole lotta woman
Whole lotta Rosie
Whole lotta Rosie
Whole lotta Rosie
A whole lotta woman

Whole lotta woman
Whole lotta woman
Whole lotta Rosie
Whole lotta Rosie
Whole lotta Rosie
Whole lotta woman-man-man yeah
Whole lotta Rosie
Whole lotta woman
Whole lotta woman

AC/DC – Highway To Hell

This was the first AC/DC song to chart in the US. It helped drive huge sales for the Highway To Hell album, which has sold over seven million copies in America. It was AC/DC’s sixth album, and the last with vocalist Bon Scott, who died in 1980. The song charted at #37 in Billboard 100 in 1979.

Angus Young described Highway to Hell about touring in American but Highway to Hell’s origin was the nickname for the Canning Highway in Australia. It runs from where lead singer Bon Scott lived in Fremantle and ends at a pub/bar called The Raffles, which was a big rock ‘n roll drinking hole in the ’70s. As Canning Highway gets close to the pub, it dips down into a steep decline.

 

Brian Johnson: “It was written about being on the bus on the road where it takes forever to get from Melbourne or Sydney to Perth across the Nullarbor Plain. When the Sun’s setting in the west and you’re driving across it, it is like a fire ball. There is nothing to do, except have a quick one off the wrist or a game of cards, so that’s where Bon came up with the lyrics.”

 

From Songfacts

So many people where killed by driving fast over that intersection at the top of the hill on the way for a good night out, that it was called the highway to hell, so when Bon was saying “I’m on the highway to hell” it meant that he was doing the nightly or weekly pilgrimage down Canning Highway to The Raffles bar to rock and drink with his mates: “Ain’t nothing I would rather do. Going down, party time, my friends are gonna be there too.”

Mutt Lange, who has also worked with The Cars, Bryan Adams, and Def Leppard (and Shania Twain, who he was married to from 1993-2008), produced the album. Lange took over after after failed sessions with Eddie Krammer, who had a solid resumé that included work with Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, but whose procedural style didn’t work for AC/DC.

Lange was able to enhance the band’s sound without altering their essence. On this song, he added robust background vocals to the choruses – something AC/DC didn’t do on their previous efforts. This and other production refinements helped made the song a hit and expand their audience.

Recorded in London, Highway To Hell was the first AC/DC album recorded outside of Australia. The album cover had Angus Young on the cover wearing his schoolboy uniform and devil horns. Some religious groups found this quite offensive.

Serial killer Richard Ramirez claimed this album compelled him to murder. He believed AC/DC stood for “Anti Christ/Devil’s Child.”

In the film School of Rock Jack Black teaches the riff to the guitarist in the band. The song was also featured in the Movie Little Nicky, starring Adam Sandler.

The AC/DC bluegrass tribute band Hayseed Dixie covered this on their 2001 album, A Hillbilly Tribute To AC/DC.

AC/DC performed this at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony when they were inducted in 2003. Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler inducted them, saying, “There is no greater purveyor of the power chord.”

The chorus to the song was used in the 2010 movie Percy Jackson and the Olympians: the Lightning Thief. 

A campaign to make the this the top song on the UK singles chart for Christmas 2013 resulted in a #4 placing and AC/DC’s first top 10 British hit in a 40-year career. The Anglo-Australian hard rockers had previously been the most successful act never to have had a Top 10 hit single in the UK, having achieved a grand total of 30 chart entries, none of which have ever peaked any higher than #12 (that honor went to 1988 hit “Heatseeker”).

When this song was released, there really was a “Highway to Hell” in America: Route 666. This section of highway ran through Arizona and Utah; it was later renumbered after various ghost stories emerged about unexplained happenings on the road.

AC/DC, who didn’t win their first Grammy Award until 2010 (Best Hard Rock Performance for “War Machine”), played this at the 2015 ceremony. They opened the telecast with “Rock or Bust,” then segued into “Highway.”

This is the song that gets Peter Griffin banished from Amish country on the Season 10 episode of Family Guy titled “Amish Guy.” Looking to introduce the Amish to rock and roll, he produces a boom box and plays the song for their leader, who does not approve.

When AC/DC was accused of backmasking Satanic messages on their Highway To Hell record, Angus Young responded: “You didn’t need to play [the album] backwards, because we never hid [the messages]. We’d call an album Highway To Hell, there it was right in front of them.”

Highway To Hell

Livin’ easy
Lovin’ free
Season ticket on a one way ride
Askin’ nothin’
Leave me be
Takin’ everythin’ in my stride
Don’t need reason
Don’t need rhyme
Ain’t nothin’ that I’d rather do
Goin’ down
Party time
My friends are gonna be there too

I’m on the highway to hell
On the highway to hell
Highway to hell
I’m on the highway to hell

No stop signs
Speed limit
Nobody’s gonna slow me down
Like a wheel
Gonna spin it
Nobody’s gonna mess me around
Hey, Satan
Payin’ my dues
Playin’ in a rockin’ band
Hey, mamma
Look at me
I’m on the way to the promised land

I’m on the highway to hell
Highway to hell
I’m on the highway to hell
Highway to hell

Don’t stop me

I’m on the highway to hell
On the highway to hell
I’m on the highway to hell
On the highway to hell

(highway to hell) I’m on the highway to hell
(highway to hell) highway to hell
(highway to hell) highway to hell
(highway to hell)

And I’m goin’ down
All the way
I’m on the highway to hell