AC/DC’s highway to heaven


For two generations of Aussies and Kiwis, the power chords of AC/DC formed part of the soundtrack of our youth. From Highway to Hell through to Hells Bells, AC/DC rocked our world. 

Today, AC/DC is on the cusp of their 40th anniversary tour. If their last tour, which ranks among the top five grossing tours in rock history, is any indication, this tour will be a monster.

. . . thinking of the circumstances surrounding Phil Rudd’s arrest, it is hard not to reflect on the tragedy of a life lived outside of the love of God.

But behind the enormous success, is a group of men who have had a very rough run in life.

The legendary Bon Scott, their first lead singer, left a session with his band mates in 1980 where they were working on a song entitled Have a Drink on Me. He did exactly that. And not just one. A friend left him passed out in a car on a night when temperatures were sub-freezing in London. He died alone. The official cause of death: acute alcohol poisoning. Like every good rock and roll death, there are always other versions—maybe he choked to death on his own vomit, maybe something else. Either way, his ashes are buried in Fremantle, WA.  

This year it was announced that Malcolm Young, who is 61 years old, is suffering dementia and is now living in an assisted living faculty in Sydney. An article in The Australian makes a veiled connection between Malcolm’s years of heavy drinking and his early onset dementia.

But maybe the most stunning news broke today that AC/DC drummer, Phil Rudd, has been charged in New Zealand with attempting to arrange two murders. Associated with the charges are reports of a dispute arising from his frequent use of prostitutes. And when his home was raided, the police found among other things, methamphetamine.

It is three very tragic endings to lives of people who, by most measures, have been astonishingly fortunate. Are these tragic ends the natural result of the living a life true to the sentiments of AC/DC’s music embodied? Although I don’t take their lyrics literally, it is hard to reconcile the sentiments and lifestyle promoted in AC/DC music, with a healthy, positive, loving life. Maybe these three men were influenced by their music, or maybe their lives influenced their music. Either way, thinking of the circumstances surrounding Phil Rudd’s arrest, it is hard not to reflect on the tragedy of a life lived outside of the love of God.

I hope Phil Rudd didn’t do what he is accused of. And I hope that each remaining member of AC/DC encounters the God of forgiveness, grace, love and life. I hope that in God’s arms, they find hope and a path to healthy, positive way of living. I hope that they get off the highway to a living hell in this life, and eternal separation from God in the next, and get onto the highway to heaven. And, when it comes to heaven, I hope, in the words of AC/DC, that all “my friends are gonna be there too . . . ”.