How did AC/DC get their band name? The classic Australian hard rockers have a name that's become synonymous with the electrifying power of rock 'n' roll, so how did they come up with it?

Well, it's electrical power — quite literally — that gave the group their name. Indeed, without the electricity that's current flowing all around us, AC/DC might have a different moniker entirely. So let's get right into how AC/DC got their name.

It all goes back to a sewing machine in the '70s.

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Because, as longtime listeners know, AC/DC inherently harness the power of rock in their timeless sound. So it makes sense they would have a name that directly signifies how we use electricity — and how they use it to make their songs.

How Did AC/DC Get Their Name?

In 1973, founding AC/DC brothers Angus Young and Malcolm Young took the shorthand for technical terminology for electrical charges to signify the exhilarating thrill of the music they were making.

Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

When forming the band, they had spotted the term "AC/DC" — the abbreviation for "alternating current/direct current" — on the AC adapter or label of their sister Margaret's sewing machine.

From American Songwriter:

The term 'alternating current' refers to an electric charge that changes direction while 'direct current' is an electric charge that flows in one direction.

While none of the band members were electricians themselves, they found that the name was a good representation of their electrifying performance energy.

Subsequently, AC/DC have used the name to explosive effect by putting it right out front, never hiding the symbology or meaning. Hell, the band's first internationally released album from 1976 is called High Voltage. And they have carried the electrified theme proudly into contemporary times — AC/DC's 2020 album is called Power Up.

What Does AC/DC Mean?

Sometimes, the literal can also be symbolic, and that's the case with AC/DC's name. In fact, some casual listeners might not have known that the abbreviations for alternating and direct current gave AC/DC their title. But there you have it.

Has there ever been a more perfect pairing of name and sound in all of rock? The sewing machine moment must be one of the most significant in rock history. And while sewing may not seem like a rock 'n' roll pastime, the idea of electricity fueling loud guitar amps represents the foundational bedrock of AC/DC's charged musical style.

Newsmakers, Getty Images

It's hard to think of a more fitting band name for the group that started with the guitarists Angus and Malcolm amid an early lineup that included the vocalist Dave Evans and drummer Colin Burgess — before the late Bon Scott joined as lead singer in 1974, and the band began cementing their reputation in Australia and across the globe. Today, the world-famous AC/DC continue to record and perform with singer Brian Johnson.

And now you know how AC/DC got their name.

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