I shook my ass with the swagger of a rock god. We were AC/DC and I was Bon Scott risen from the dead. The “air-gig” was at Dooley’s, a converted church adjacent to the U of A campus. It had large stone pillars in front and multiple levels inside including a balcony overlooking a two-level stage. Going in, we had no idea how we’d fare or even who the competition was.
On our way into the club we found out as we saw air-Mick Jagger. This kid was draped in an American flag like Sir Mick from the ’81 tour and he was wearing dark eye shadow. The resemblance was enough to make any aspiring air-band nervous, so we got right to quelling our fears with booze. After all, that’s what the band would do. The events took place a quarter century ago, so some details are less than well, details. I remember a Styx song and the guys doing it were really good and well synced with “Come Sail Away.” At this point, I don’t recall the song the “Stones” did. Yeah, in spite of our adversary’s Mick-ness, the performance was pretty forgettable.
We did a final shot of Crown Royal and took our positions on the stage. For the purpose of historical archive, the lineup was:
- Mark Gonnella – Angus Young on lead air guitar
- Mike Gonnella – Malcolm Young on rhythm air
- Shelley (now) Gonnella – Cliff Williams air bass
- Mike Burgess – Phil Rudd kicking ass on the air drums
- Me – the late Bon Scott as lead poser
As Angus slashed the air of the first riffs, he and I were on the top level of the stage in front of Phil Rudd, while Malcolm and Cliff were on the lower stage. As I belted out “YOU COULD SAY SHE’S GOT IT ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!” we criss-crossed and leapt off the stage to the lower level. We threw every rock pose cliché we knew at the crowd and executed them with air perfection. Mark had the schoolboy outfit like his hero and his energy was “to eleven” on the hits of speed scale.
At the exact moment we rehearsed it, I swooped in and picked him up onto my shoulders like wiping up a quarter sized drop of water with a paper towel. I was totally focused on the job, but I could feel the increasing intensity of the mob. They were into it. The place was packed and I can still remember the images of people everywhere including many on top of chairs to get a good view. I knew we had already won. We were bringing the blood and guts and the din of the appreciative sweaty throng was something I had never experienced and haven’t since.
Our “finale” was a play off the cover of, “If You Want Blood You’ve Got It.” As “Whole Lotta Rosie” was ending I had my hands in the air in a “worship me I’m a rock god” pose and the air fans were going bananas. Perfectly timed to the last crashing thump, Angus raced at me and rammed his air guitar through my back. I flew across the stage sprawling in a heap on the floor. Dead. The famous final scene was choreographed with the precision of a WWF steel-cage match and the full-house exploded.
The song and the moment lasted a little over five minutes. Does that mean I still have about 10 left?
Oh, by the way, “Air Guitar Nation” is coming soon to a theater near you.