Australian rock titans AC/DC have sold over 200 million albums on the back of a ferocious work ethic, hundreds of world tours and an unimpeachable talent for crafting hook-heavy, fist-pumping anthems. Signing licensing arrangements with pretty much anyone who makes anything, AC/DC’s brand is now as ubiquitous as the Coca-Cola logo.

Music fans know that AC/DC’s odyssey from bar band to Rock and Roll Hall of Famers has been anything but smooth. In 1980, on the eve of outrageous success, the band was felled by the death of their iconic lead singer Bon Scott. That he died just as the band released Highway to Hell, the album that launched them into the commercial stratosphere, seemed bitterly ironic, if not darkly ominous.

Sometime during the summer I turned thirteen, my neighbor, who was about three years older, began wearing corduroy pants with little flying ducks embroidered on them.

When a friend strikes out in a bold new direction like this, it can be a scary ordeal for everyone around him.  It can also present a number of opportunities.  Realizing that the onset of the mallard-inspired cords would likely usher in the obsolescence of all things non-preppy, I petitioned for and became the grateful beneficiary of a number of his now-unwanted possessions.  Specifically, his copy of The Grateful Dead’s American Beauty.  And most importantly, his copy of the Jim Morrison biography No One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman.

My life hasn’t been the same since.