By Keith Carman
T.N.T, High Voltage, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Let There Be Rock, ’74 Jailbreak…even the least discerning rock fan can immediately peg any of these titles: classics from the canon of venerable rockers AC/DC. Packed with legendary tracks that have inspired countless generations of axe-grinders, screamers and air-shredders—let alone that the Aussie outfit perform to this day—these are the long-players that have helped shape modern music.
They also wouldn’t exist (at least not in the inimitable form we know them) were it not for bassist Mark Evans. Performing with the band for two succinct years in the mid-’70s, it’s Evans’ restrained, no-frills approach that created an immovable foundation for the likes of Angus Young and Bon Scott to create their gritty temples.
Still, despite contributing to some bona fide rippers, history hasn’t always been kind to Evans. All but ignored after being fired from the band in 1977 due to a personality clash with the heavy-handed Young that was vaguely defined as “musical differences” and eliminated from their roster for their 2002 induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it’s as if AC/DC was trying to forget his crucial role.
It’s a subject he addresses candidly and with great depth in autobiography Dirty Deeds: My Life Inside/Outside of AC/DC (Bazillion Points). Gripping, insightful and bounding with his inherently infectious positivity, Dirty Deeds… is like a motivational speech about how realizing one’s own self-worth carries value far beyond any token gesture.
“I’ve no axe to grind with (Young). In fact, there are so many great memories about that time in my life, I prefer to focus on them,” he gleefully chatters from his Sydney, Australia home. “I mean, don’t get me wrong: Angus is an intense little fellow. But you have to realize that we all had issues, not just him. I played my own part in whatever my legacy is with AC/DC.”
As for the book itself, don’t look here for a synopsis. It’s rather obvious and it isn’t our place to ruin the astonishing bits. What is important however, is to recognize where Evans’ mind was while writing. Hearing him wax philosophically and with inspiring warmth, it was clearly in a state of Zen.
“This book has been in the back of my mind for a while now,” he admits. “I think I started toying with the idea of it around 2004 but didn’t get into it until I was truly ready. Some of that stems from finally digesting what happens in life. You have to come through negative experiences to really learn who you are. It’s then that you become wiser; more compassionate.”
“Life happens around you and you have to deal with it,” he quips, seemingly reminding himself to look at the bright side of a rough past. “You just have to enjoy what success you get and realize there will be curve balls. Then you adapt. That’s how I’ve tried to live life and I think it’s been to the fullest. It’s never easy. Take when when my dad died. Or my daughter. Or my brother. You never get used to it…you just learn to deal with it.”
When set against such a stark context, it’s no wonder that being removed from an ego-stroking list seems petty at best. Not that Evans has halted playing music since parting ways with Australia’s most notorious band. Currently working on a new blues/roots project amusingly dubbed Dinosaurs with members of fellow dirtballs Rose Tattoo, he feels his inspiration is at an all-time high. Moreover, it reiterates a crucial point in ensuring his life maintains a positive trajectory. Where many men would be mired in the agony of “woulda shoulda coulda,” Evans prefers to enjoy his lot, appreciate life on the fringe of rock ‘n’ roll stardom and share his saga via one interesting read.
“I’m still out there doing it,” he concludes. “I have to. You do it because you must. It’s the creative impulse. Writing this book was partly dealing with those experiences, partly addressing them and setting the record straight so I could move past them and also just to touch on that creative aspect.”
“But it’s not my only (creative venture). I’ve got music, golf, family…what else do I need? I enjoy myself and help out where I can. I’m looking at life the same way I apply myself to music: don’t confuse things. Keep it simple, stupid. If there’s anything my life—and this book—taught me, it’s that success is getting what you want but happiness liking what you get. I can honestly say that I’m happy.”