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Music

The iconic AC/DC track inspired by a Clint Eastwood classic

AC/DC are one of the most legendary bands of all time. They’re a bit of a strange case in the sense that, yes, like many other bands, they had their heyday, but that their heyday ran for over 30 years, totally flouting the norm for bands of their stature. 

Not confined to a particular decade, their work is timeless. Their high-octane take on the blues of Muddy Waters and Co. allowed them to find a heart in the place of countless generations, and it is sure that their work will endure for years after they’ve all departed this mortal coil.

Whether it be the hard-partying swagger of the Bon Scott fronted era or the anthemic power of the Brian Johnson fronted era, there are many stellar moments across the band’s career, as well as other lesser-known gems, such as ‘Big Balls’. Undoubtedly, the band are best known for hits such as ‘Thunderstruck’ and ‘Back in Black’, but in reality, they’ve got a lot to offer, even if their music is placed in a more rudimentary rock category.

The guitarists that influenced AC/DC’s Angus Young

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They’ve actually got a lot more density than you thought, and some of their songs are plucked from across the spectrum of popular culture. 

It transpires that one of their best-loved hits, ‘Shoot to Thrill’ from 1980’s Back in Black was partially inspired by one of the most influential films of all time, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Lead guitarist, Angus Young, revealed that the song’s memorable breakdown, which comes after the main solo, was actually inspired by the famous gun battle climax in Sergio Leone’s film.

In this scene, the gunfighters played by Clint Eastwood, Lee Can Cleef and Eli Wallach stare each other down in a tense encounter set in the middle of a Civil War cemetery. It lasts for minutes before one finally breaks, and the shootout ensues. Young explained that the breakdown in ‘Shoot to Thrill’ was specifically written to mirror the soundtrack section of this scene, ‘Il Triello’ by the famed composer Ennio Morricone, whose score brings the shootout to life.

Listening to both songs, both have a quiet, slow build-up with a tension that is tangible, dragging you in, leaving you on the edge of your seat, then they both let rip for the thunderous finale, taking you for one last spin on the waltzer. 

It was a stroke of genius on the part of Young to write his part in such a way. An effective means of emulating one of the most iconic scenes and soundtracks of all time, it shows that AC/DC aren’t just scholars of rock, but of films too. We wonder what other easter eggs they have scattered across their extensive back catalogue.

Listen to ‘Shoot to Thrill’ below.