AC/DC's iconic Thunderstruck originated as one of Angus Young's acoustic guitar warmup licks

Sometimes, ideas with humble beginnings are destined for greatness. That mantra is all too true for AC/DC's electrifying classic Thunderstruck, which Angus Young recently revealed originated as a practice routine he used to play on, yes, an acoustic guitar.

In a conversation with Zane Lowe on Apple Music's Essential Music show, the electric guitar icon was joined by bandmate Brian Johnson to discuss the band's legendary career and select their essential AC/DC tracks.

When quizzed on the history of Thunderstruck, Angus Young revealed that the larger-than-life lead lick had an unlikely origin.

"It started off as practice thing on an acoustic guitar I had at home," revealed Young. "I had a cassette and I was fiddling around with the guitar and I thought, 'That's interesting', so I put it down."

Young continued, saying that when he showed his brother and bandmate Malcolm, the late guitar great pursued the idea, saying, "Angus, go back, go back to that little guitar thing you had on the acoustic – that's a little hook-y thing... there's something about that."

Angus, per Malcom's request, then began to add to the track, transforming it from a humble warmup lick into a rock guitar classic.

Young also revealed that Thunderstruck was taken to the next level by Malcolm, who tweaked the original arrangement while Angus took a one-week break away during the recording of Razor's Edge.

"When I came back, Malcolm came to me and he said, "Listen and hear what we've done to your song,"" Angus recalls.

"I put it on, and he had added the big thunder choruses at the beginning, and the chant, which we originally only put in the middle section of the song."

In response to Malcolm asking for his opinions on the newly arranged track, Angus said, "You've made it better, you've improved it. It sounds great.

"I was really happy," continued Angus. "I said, 'you've given it life!'"

There you have it, folks. Don't neglect your practice, because those little mindless noodles you play without thinking may have more potential than you think.

Elsewhere in the podcast are a number of other insights into the origins of classic AC/DC tracks, including the tale of how Angus Young came up with the vocal line for Highway to Hell on the toilet – the clip of which can be seen above.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.