If I asked you if you knew the name Mark Evans, many of you might scratch your heads wondering who he was. If you were a diehard fan of the legendary AC/DC, you would know right away who Mark Evans was. Mark Evans was AC/DC’s bass player from 1975 until 1977, which means he performed on their albums T.N.T., High Voltage, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Let There Be Rock, and ’74 Jailbreak. In May of 1977, after the recording of Let There Be Rock, Mark was fired from AC/DC due to what was said to be “musical differences” and personality clashes with band’s co-founder and guitarist, Angus Young. He would be replaced by their current bass player, Cliff Williams. For those of you keeping score at home, yes, that means Mark Evans missed out on two of the most earth shattering moments in AC/DC’s history: The death of original singer Bon Scott in 1980, and in that same year, the release of the record that put AC/DC on the map forever, Back In Black.
Mark Evans recently released a book by way of Bazillion Points Publishing called Dirty Deeds: My Life Inside/Outside Of AC/DC, which chronicles, in great detail I might add, Mark’s time with the Australian hard rock giants before, during, and after. It’s also the first tell-all book ever to be released about AC/DC, and I have to admit that from the first page on, I couldn’t put it down. It was an easy page turner that started off with Mark’s early years growing up in a working class family in Melbourne, Australia, to meeting the Young brothers, Angus and Malcolm, and becoming the bass player of AC/DC to his firing and life after rock stardom. I thought that Dirty Deeds was an amazing read—so, when the opportunity to talk to Mark Evans emerged, I jumped at it! Here’s what we talked about:
So, I got to read your book, Mark. What an amazing life you’ve had!
Yeah, well so far it’s kept me amused. When I made the decision to write the book, I mean, the ideas been around for quite some time, I just didn’t feel like I arrived at the right point in my life to write the book, but a few things happened on a personal level that’s really made me focus on what’s gone past and it was just the right time to take stock in it, and take a break to write the book.
But it was interesting looking back at a lot of things. I’m in my mid-50s now, so it was pretty interesting looking back with some sensibilities. I have a much more mature outlook now and looking back at things that I did when I was younger is quite an interesting exercise. It was quite intriguing actually to do it because a lot of great things happened. Unfortunately, on the other side of things, it’s just life dictating it, but what an interesting process to go through. Lots of laughs, a few tears here and there, but like I said, that’s life!
But the detail in this book is amazing! How did you do that? I mean, you went as far back as your childhood and described in detail where you grew up. It was almost like you went back in a time machine to remember everything…
That’s interesting that you say that because I thought that it was just a natural thing to happen. The rest of my family, particularly on my paternal side, we all tend to have strong memories. We’re blessed with two things genetically on that side of my family—we can eat what we want and how much we want and we don’t put weight on, which is wonderful because I love food, and our memory is very sharp. Everything just came out of my head. The only thing that I actually checked, which took about a half an hour of research, was the precise dates of gigs. I’d remember something that happened at a particular show like the Reading Festival in England. I knew it was in August 1976, but what actual day did that fall on in August, but that really was the only thing that I checked on. Everything else was pretty much out of my head.
What made you decide to put the book out now rather than 10 or 20 years ago? Because this is the first of its kind to come out about AC/DC…
Well, there were a couple motivations. One of the main ones is that thousands of times over the years of playing gigs all over the place, fans would come up to me and ask me, “What was it like being in AC/DC? What was Bon Scott like? And what did you do?” It’s just that so many people asked me those questions, and 99.99 times [out of 100], you just want be genuine and friendly about it, especially because people are showing a genuine interest in it. That was one side [of] it, but the other side of it was just the idea to write a book and having to put some thought into it. It just seemed to me to be the right time to do it on a personal level.
I’ve been approached by a number of publishers over the years to do this, and initially, they obviously wanted to concentrate on the AC/DC side of things, which I totally understood, but as I was writing, the stories kind of moved away from the AC/DC stuff, particularly about my childhood, and it just seemed to me not to make any sense if I just wrote about the AC/DC stuff—I’d be parachuting a relatively brief part of my life. It just didn’t make any sense because you would have already knew who I was in that stage. In essence, the short answer is that it just became so apparent to me that we had to sit down and take stock of everything that happened and look forward to everything in the future.
Speaking of the future, when you joined AC/DC, did you ever think they would become as big as they have?
I think everyone, when they first join a band, is optimistic, but from the very first time that I played with the guys, whom I met through a football friend, I was told two things: First, you need to be aware that this was Malcolm’s band, and number two, we’re going to be living in London within the next 12 months. He could’ve said to me, at the time, that we’re going to live on the moon, and it would have made just as much sense. After a very short period with the band, it became very apparent that particularly with Angus and Malcolm, they were going to be picking up all the marbles.
I don’t think back in that stage when we were playing in front of 15 to 20 people would have thought that nearing 40 years later, we’d still be talking about it. I knew it was a great band from the very first moment, but you have to realize too that with Angus and Malcolm, we used to get called arrogant and overconfident, and I guess we were, but those two guys had a heightened sense of expectation because of their older brother George, who was in the Easybeats, a national successful band. So, they had a blueprint to follow.
I read in Dirty Deeds that you actually followed Bon Scott’s career before you were actually in AC/DC with him…
Yeah, absolutely! I can tell you the day that I first saw him in 1969. There was this gig that I went to that was run by one of the top radio stations in Melbourne—there was a bubblegum pop band called The Valentines, who dressed up in these God-awful orange suits, and Bon was a back-up singer—like a doo-wop boy. He had this bottle of Scotch at the side of the stage, and I’d see him disappear in between songs and take a big slug out of the bottle, and he had quite an array of talent. He used to have girl’s compact makeup on so you couldn’t see his tattoos, and as he would swing, the tattoos would become apparent. He was starting to morph into Bon Scott. He was such a character and I just connected with the guy because he was a real life force—he was cheeky—so I was quite taken by him and from that day on, I followed his career until 1975 when I ended up in a band with him. It was quite odd how it worked out.
If Bon Scott were still alive today, do you think that he’d still be in AC/DC or do you think he would’ve already left the band?
Of course he would still be in the band. No doubt! I think that the only way he was not gonna be in the band is probably what happened. He was just as much an important part of the band visually and chemistry-wise as Angus or Malcolm. Put those three in a room together and the music they’d write was proof there was chemistry among them.
In Dirty Deeds, you talk about the distance you felt between you, Angus and Malcolm. Is there still a distance or do you talk to them today?
Oh, no! I actually haven’t spoken to Malcolm, Angus, or Phil since 1981, which is quite amazing. Our relationship back then, which would’ve been Brian Johnson’s first gig in Sydney on the Back In Black tour. We got along great, and we were all very close! Whenever the guys would come to Sydney, they would call me on the phone to come hang out.
So, the relationship was really good, but we had a falling out because of legal issues we had, which put an end to any relationship that we had. It was a business thing that happened. It’s sorting out all the legalities. It’s a shame that it happened, and I look at it as purely a business situation. It had to be sorted out. You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet, and it seems we broke a whole bunch of eggs, but I’d love to have contact with the guys. We had some great times, and it would be great if Malcolm, Angus, and Phil were to get a copy of the book. I think they’d have a bit of a rig and it would bring back some great memories to them. Another motivation for me to write the book, too, was that I read over the years that I got sacked from the band for “personal differences” with Angus, but I’ve never looked at it like that, so I explained that in the book.
What are your thoughts of the Brian Johnson-led version of the band?
Great! I love it! Personally, and this is just my personal opinion, I prefer the stuff with Bon on it. My favorite AC/DC record is Highway To Hell, which I had nothing to do with, but I think that it’s just an amazing rock ‘n’ roll record. I do think Brian should be there, and what I do have respect for is the way the guys decided to bat on after Bon’s death and the way they transitioned with Brian singing. Instead of folding, they just went in and recorded an album like Back In Black and continued on. I have a lot of respect for that and it takes a lot of guts to do that and it would have been really tough on them.
When do we get to see the Dave Tice and Mark Evans Duo in the United States?
Um, tomorrow, hopefully! (Laughs) We’d love to get out there!
Read Mark Evans’ book, Dirty Deeds: My Life Inside/Outside Of AC/DC, out on Bazillion Points Publishing wherever books are sold. If you’re a diehard AC/DC fan, this book is a must have! Take a look at the book now at dirtydeedsbook.com.