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Atlantic Nearly Ditched AC/DC

The rock world could have been a very different place if label execs had had their way

In an interview in the new issue of Classic Rock Magazine Phil Carson, the London-based chief executive of Atlantic Records and the man who got AC/DC signed to the label, recalls:

"They’d delivered Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap [1976], which I thought was pretty good. But the Atlantic A&R department [in the US] said: ‘We’re sorry, but this album doesn’t make it. We’re not gonna put it out and we’re dropping the band.’ And everybody was unanimous in this, by the way – everybody.”

Carson goes on to say: "I said: ‘I think you’re making a very big mistake.’ But the drop notice was out; AC/DC were history. So I went to Neshui [Ertegun, co-owner of Atlantic with brother Ahmet] and showed him the sales figures that we’d got for High Voltage [also 1976].

"They were not awe-inspiring but considering we’d only paid $25,000 for the album this was not so bad. There were 10,000 sold in Germany and 12,000 in England. Maybe it had sold 40,000 overall. It had certainly earned its $25,000 back.

"Neshui backed me up and I re-signed the band at that point. I managed to claw it back in. Thank God I did.”

The latest issue of Classic Rock Magazine is out now.

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