Last year, I had to learn (or brush up on) the lead-guitar parts and solos for about 83 songs — everything from classic Merle Haggard and Kinks tunes to the Cars’ “Bye Bye Love” to two entire Beatles albums — all of which I eventually performed at clubs, theaters and outdoor festivals that spring and summer. Buried on this two-ton list of tunes was “Friday on My Mind,” a late-1966 single by the Easybeats, a high-energy Aussie band that churned out some seriously catchy power pop. The song was huge by the spring of ’67; it reached Number 16 in the U.S., Number 1 in Australia and Number 6 in the U.K. It even was voted “Best Australian Song” of all time by the Australasian Performing Rights Association back in 2001.
The most striking thing about the tune — from a guitarist’s point of view — is the deftly and relentlessly alternate-picked root-fifth and root-octave figures that outline an implied chord progression during the intro and verses. And then there’s the Eastern-flavored use of the harmonic minor scale and its fifth mode, Phrygian-dominant, in the single-note fills! And how can we ignore the contrapuntal interplay between the primary and secondary guitar parts, featuring contrary melodic motion?
Anyway, I was so intrigued by the song that I actually paused in the middle of all my relentless song-learnin’ to do a bit of serious research about the band and its guitarists (In other words, I read their Wikipedia page while lying on a couch). That’s when I stumbled upon their connection to AC/DC.
First of all, the band — as heard on this particular tune — featured Stevie Wright (lead vocals), Harry Vanda (guitar), George Young (guitar), Dick Diamonde (bass) and Gordon “Snowy” Fleet (drums), and the song was composed by Vanda and Young. As any self-respecting AC/DC fan knows, Young was the older brother of AC/DC cofounders Malcolm and Angus Young.
When the Easybeats called it quits in 1969, Young and Vanda concentrated on writing and producing songs for other artists — not to mention a few for themselves, most of which were recorded under different stage names. One of their studio-based groups, the Marcus Hook Roll Band, featured Malcolm and Angus. George (along with Vanda) went on to co-produce AC/DC’s early albums, including Let There Be Rock, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, T.N.T., Powerage and High Voltage. He played bass for the band very early on and wound up producing their 2000 album, Stiff Upper Lip.
George Young’s famous saying to his younger brothers was, “You can’t call yourself a band until you’ve done at least 200 gigs.” Young died October 22, 2017, only a month before his younger brother, Malcolm.
Be sure to check out the tune on YouTube (you can see it below). The opening shot features Young’s Maton DC545 with Bigsby (minus the Bigsby arm).