AC/DC Backstage Fight With Deep Purple Revealed


Former AC/DC roadie Tana Douglas is acknowledged as rock’n’roll’s first female roadie. In her new book ‘Loud’, she recalled a chaotic situation that developed during a concert. In her book she revealed how AC/DC were scheduled to perform at Sunbury Pop Festival in 1975 and the show also had Deep Purple on the card.

Tana Douglas reveals how a fight broke out

Douglas stated in the book that prior to the show which was some 60km outside of Melbourne, she had checked the running order for the bands to know when they were meant to take the stage. Once the stage was cleared of equipment from the band before them, she started to set up the gear. She revealed that the whole idea was to be quick, so the crowd didn’t get any more restless.

While, she was about to set mic it, she was sent word to strike it, take it all down. She revealed in the book, “I went looking for the boys to see what was happening. It turned out that Deep Purple had been having second thoughts about waiting to close the show, and now they wanted to go on next. What with the weather and all, yeah right! Michael Browning [veteran promoter], the band and brother George were standing off the side of the stage, huddled in a group.”

She continued, ““What’s going on?” I asked. AC/DC were standing their ground, saying they would play the spot they’d been booked to play. Browning told me, “Don’t worry about it, just go back and set up the gear.” Back I went to do it all again. Now, the part of the job I was most uncomfortable with in those early days was going onstage when an audience was present. Eventually, they would figure out I was a girl and start hollering; it was always embarrassing to me. During this second set-up, a bored, restless and drunk audience did just that. “Look, it’s a sheila!” one heckler called, while another thought he was funny with, “Don’t hurt yourself, little girl.””

She saw AC/DC were arguing with a bunch of men who turned out to be Deep Purple’s management and crew. Purple were demanding to go on next, and AC/DC were having none of it. They went, “We’re going on next, as that is the spot we were booked to play.” Douglas noted that it was George’s voice.

Purple’s management not only wanted AC/DC to go on after them, they wanted the them to wait until after they had removed all their equipment, including sound and lighting. This would mean AC/DC would be lucky to go on before two in the morning – after everyone had left.

Tana Douglas revealed that a brawl then broke out and everyone was yelling. She added, “The next thing I knew, George was swinging. I jumped in and got between him and some English guy on Purple’s crew – I’d agreed to be loyal to the band, and I wasn’t about to let the boys get beaten up by anyone. Then it just erupted. Lots of men jumped in, while security tried to break it up. In the middle of it all, AC/DC were standing back to back, still refusing to budge. Browning, looking a little flustered, hustled the boys away, and I heard a “F**k this!”, yelled out as a parting gesture.”

Purple managed to get what they wanted that day- they got rid of AC/DC, as they refused to play last. None of the Australian bands at the festival got paid anyway, as the promoter went bust after paying Deep Purple. AC/DC had shown they weren’t about to be pushed around by a bunch of Poms who they saw as well past their prime. They would do it their way. “I admired them for that,” concluded Douglas.