The Sewing Machine Behind AC/DC’s Name

In a serendipitous turn, AC/DC's iconic name was born from a household sewing machine. But the story took a surprising twist when the band learned of its alternate, risqué meaning.

A black and white vintage photo capturing a joyful moment between George Young and Margaret Young. Both are smiling widely, George in a suit with a tie and Margaret in a light-colored outfit. Their cheerful expressions convey a sense of warmth and happiness in this candid shot.
George and Margaret Young
Key Takeaways
  • AC/DC’s name, inspired by a label on the Young sister’s sewing machine, symbolizes their energetic musical style​.
  • The Young brothers were initially unaware that “AC/DC” also referred to bisexuality, leading to amusing misunderstandings in their early career.
  • In Australia, they’re affectionately known as “Acca Dacca”, a nickname that highlights their strong connection with Australian fans.​

The Electrifying Story of How a Sewing Machine Named a Rock Legend

At a crucial turning point in their lives, Malcolm and Angus Young were searching for direction and purpose. Malcolm, having had a challenging time at school in Glasgow, and Angus, faced with leaving school at just 15, found themselves at a pivotal crossroads. It was during this period of uncertainty that their brother George, back in Australia after his own band’s struggles, was putting together a new musical project and invited his younger siblings to join.

In this atmosphere of change and opportunity, a seemingly mundane object in their sister Margaret’s room caught their attention and set their course. It was Margaret’s sewing machine, and on it, a label that read AC/DC. This term, signifying “alternating current/direct current”, resonated with the brothers. It represented an electric charge that could change direction or flow steadily, mirroring the energetic and powerful style they envisioned for their music.

In the quiet hum of a sewing machine, the Young brothers found the name that would come to symbolize their electric musical journey – AC/DC.

Margaret’s role in the Young brothers’ journey didn’t end with the name. As she worked on the band’s costumes, another iconic element was born. Angus, who had recently dropped out of school, adopted the look of a schoolboy uniform, a nod to his recent past. This unique style not only became an integral part of Angus’s and the band’s identity but also amplified their rebellious reputation, cementing their place in rock history.

The Bisexual Connotation Behind AC/DC’s Name

As AC/DC’s fame skyrocketed, the term “AC/DC, synonymous with electrical power, perfectly mirrored the band’s dynamic and high-energy performances.

Initially, when the Young brothers chose “AC/DC” for their band, they were completely oblivious to its slang connotation. This duality in meaning only came to their attention after the band had established themselves and started gaining popularity. The bisexuality connotation of “AC/DC” led to a series of amusing and sometimes perplexing situations in the band’s early career. Despite their initial denial of any sexual implications in their name, the band members eventually embraced the misunderstanding. This open-mindedness even led to the band being booked for various gay-themed events, a twist that opened unexpected doors and showcased their versatility.

Caught in a current of confusion: AC/DC’s name, unbeknownst to them, struck a chord with both rock and LGBTQ+ communities.

However, it wasn’t just the bisexual connotation that stirred controversy. AC/DC also had to navigate through misconceptions about promoting Satanism, largely fueled by their song titles and lyrics, such as the infamous “Highway to Hell”. These misinterpretations, combined with the slang meaning of their name, contributed to a public image shrouded in mystery and intrigue, which the band had to carefully address and clarify over time.

In their homeland of Australia, AC/DC is affectionately known as “Acca Dacca”, a colloquial term that highlights the band’s enduring connection with their Australian fans. This nickname, devoid of any controversy, stands as a testament to their roots and the unwavering support of their home country’s fanbase.