If you didn't already know, Evans was fronting the aussie superstars before both Bon Scott and Brian Johnson. The band only released one single with Evans behind the mic, the original version of «Can I Sit Next To You, Girl» from 1974, later released on the album «T.N.T.» in 1975 with Scott on vocals.
The 58 year old singer is still touring around the world, and this month he's playing in Norway for the first time, backed by Norwegian rockers Barbed Wire.
– My show is a tribute to the history of AC/DC, which I'm a proud part of, Evans says.
Why he's not doing Brian's songs
He meets NRK.no just minutes after his hourlong set at the UtenRicks rock club in Knarvik, just outside Bergen, Norway. Although most of the audience was AC/DC-diehards well in the know, not everyone had done their homework in Rock & Roll-history. Two young blonde girls quickly became the centre of attention, when they complained about the show's opening songs, «Can I Sit Next To You, Girl» and «Rockin' In The Parlour», the A- and B-side of the band's first single.
The girls didn't know the songs and demanded to hear «You Shook Me All Night Long» instead. Evans politely declined, offering the following explanation after the show:
– It’s a great song, but I'm not singing any of Brian Johnson's songs. Brian’s very much alive and can do his own songs. It would be childish for me to do them. I do my own stuff and some of Bon's, because they're the most popular ones. And he used to sing my songs too, Evans says.
– I turned down Angus
The AC/DC-history starts in November 1973, when rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young placed an ad in The Sydney Morning Herald, asking for a rock singer into Free and The Rolling Stones. Evans picked up the phone.
– It was Malcolm on the other end of the line. He had been in a band called The Velvet Underground in Sydney, a top covers band. After he left, I joined that band, when their singer quit. He had heard about me, since he had kept in touch with the boys. So he said: «Come on down and jam with us». They were three at the moment, Malcolm on guitar, Colin Burgess on drums and a friend, Larry van Kriedt on bass. So we jammed on some Rolling Stones and Free and some other stuff. Everybody thought it sounded great, so we all shook hands and we had a band.
– And then, about a week later, Malcolm asked us if his younger brother Angus could audition. So we jammed and it was cool. We all shook hands and that’s how the five of us got together, Evans says.
About a month earlier, the singer had actually turned down an offer to join Angus Young's band, Kantuckee.
– He came to my door and said, «I’m Angus Young, younger brother of Malcolm Young and George Young». He had heard that I had split with The Velvet Underground and he was looking for a singer. So I asked him in and he played me the stuff he was into, which I wasn’t into it at all. So I didn’t join his band. He never forgot that. But I honestly didn’t like his music.
The unreleased songs
In the beginning, AC/DC's setlist included a number of cover songs. But the Young-brothers were already writing original songs for the band, sometimes including Evans in the process.
– In addition to the single, we had recorded «Soul Stripper», «Rock & Roll Singer» and «Little Lover». Those versions have never been released, the boys still got them in the vaults somewhere. And we were about to record «Baby Please Don't Go», which was our showstopper. I had also written a song with the band, «Fell In Love», and we had two other ones called «Sunset Strip» and «The Old Bay Road». We were on our way to our first album, Evans says.
– When Bon Scott joined, they rewrote the lyrics to the songs, which I was a bit annoyed about. «Fell In Love» became «Love Song» and «Sunset Strip» became «Show Business».
When AC/DC finally got to make their debut album, it was without Dave Evans. The original bassplayer and drummer were long gone, both already replaced twice, according to the singer. He also claims that Malcolm and Angus Young gradually took more control of the band, as the number of original members decreased.
– It's a lie that I didn't turn up for gigs
Another problem, Evans says, was the band's relationship with their manager at the time.
– He was ripping us off blind, as we were saying anyway. Nothing has been proved, I guess, but we were starving while doing the best gigs in the country, being on TV, we’ve got a hit record and yet we’re trying to pull together money at the table to buy a fuckin’ hamburger. At the same time, he’s flying across the country, getting his hair permed, buying new clothes and all that stuff.
– There are a lot of different stories about how you left the band. Some of them claim that you failed to show up for gigs?
– No, that's bullshit. When we were in Perth, we did three gigs a day for two or three days in a row. My voice just gave in completely. I couldn’t sing, I could hardly talk. But instead of cancelling a few shows, the manager, who used to sing in some band years ago, got up with the band and did those couple of gigs. They had to change the setlist, because he didn’t know all the songs we were doing. He tried «Can I Sit Next To You, Girl» and then they did a lot of Chuck Berry and stuff like that. And people walked out. It was crap. Any normal band would have cancelled. But I was there, I was watching it.
– So how did it end?
– We had a night off in Adelaide. We’d all had a few drinks and spoke up, and he sort of smartmouthed me. I just flew across the room and got stuck into him. The boys pulled us apart, and nobody got hurt. But I left the band then. I said, «That’s it, I’m quitting». The next morning nothing much was said, because we had a few more gigs to do. We decided to stay together for the tour. The gigs were fantastic, but we weren’t talking to each other.
– Everybody seemed to like Bon
After he left the band, contact with his former bandmates have been minimal.
– I saw them again a couple of times. We just spoke, like «Hi, how's it going?». But I didn't stay in touch. Why would I? I was off doing my own thing with Rabbit. I just read the news like anyone else and heard their songs on the radio. I didn’t care. But then they moved to Melbourne. Unfortunately, I never got to play with Rabbit on the same stage as them. Because I wanted to. I wanted to blow them off the stag. And we would have!
The singer's successor in AC/DC was the charismatic Bon Scott, who at 29 was way older than the other members in the band.
– He used to hang around the band, help the roadies sometimes and he’d be at the front, seeing our act. I didn’t know him that much, but he was a nice bloke, always cracking jokes. Everybody seemed to like him. I never had a problem with him. Anybody would have done the same thing, if they were asked to be the singer in a band with a hit record. I don’t blame him for that. I’d do the same.
Although everybody seemed to like Bon Scott, the audience at first didn't seem to accept the change of singers.
– After I quit, they came to Sydney to do a gig at Victoria Park. I didn’t know who the new singer was. Then Bon came on. And it didn’t go over well. He was yelling: «Clap, c’mon, clap!». And then he said: «Oh well, you’ve probably all got it anyway».
– I met Bon afterwards. I had a private conversation with him after he joined the band, which will remain private. But it was a very interesting conversation, that’s all I can say.
Wants credit for the early history
– Your songs with AC/DC have not been released outside of Australia and were not included in the DVD-collection «Family Jewels» or on the CD/DVD-combo «Backtracks». What are your thoughts about that?
– It annoys me and it annoys the fans too. They try to pretend that the first history of the band never existed. In most of the interviews, it’s like Bon was there from the very beginning. But the cat’s out of the bag. The early history is important. There would be no AC/DC without me. The would be no AC/DC without Colin Burgess. The fans really wanna know. So when they didn’t include it on «Family Jewels», many fans saw that as spite and got disappointed in them. It’s part of the history and everybody knows. Are you gonna keep spite for all this time? But it’s up to them anyway.
In the years that followed, Dave Evans again made a name for himself fronting the australian rock band Rabbit, who had a string of hits in their homecountry in the late 70s. Since then, he's performed as a solo artist and lived both in Dallas, Texas and in Munich, before returning to Australia.
– I’m gonna make up my mind now where I’m gonna live. I might end up in Europe again, 'cause Europe rocks! It’s the last great bastion of rock left in the world. Rock is pretty much dead in the USA, and in Australia it's pretty much the same way, Evans says.
– People get their money's worth
– How is it to be «that guy who used to be in AC/DC»?
– When I was with Rabbit, AC/DC was hardly mentioned at all. But I can never get away from it, because AC/DC is so big. It will always be my legacy. It's in all the interviews I've ever done and the fans won’t let it go anyway either. But II’ve resigned to the fact and can celebrate that I am one of the founding members of AC/DC. And I’m proud of that.
This week he's finishing his first ever tour of Norway, which has taken him all over southern part of Norway And although the show at the UtenRicks rock club in Knarvik wasn't sold out, Evans still says he's enjoying every minute of it tremendously.
– It's fantastic that people come to see me. And they get their money’s worth. It doesn’t matter if it’s 20 people there or 20.000. You gotta deliver every time. I love this and the fans can see it. It’s a privilege to be able to put smiles on people’s faces.