In 2004 a mighty battle raged at the Melbourne City Council. For months, behind closed doors, alliances were forged and broken, skirmishes fought and lost, decisions made and unmade. Even a Queensland church demanded its say.
What issue was so contentious even a House Of God had to be involved?
The suggestion that a small laneway be named after a thirty-year-old band.
After months of discussion, hints, confirmations and denials, the Council finally agreed to rename Corporation Lane… AC/DC LANE!
Obviously the city was over-run by crazed rock fans, bikers, post-atomic mutants and then finally God destroyed the city with pestilence and fire. Wow, do we look stupid now?
AC/DC certainly have a hard-rocking reputation, what with all those songs involving shaking things all night long, and doing dirty deeds inexpensively (and that’s not even starting on all the ones with “rock” in the title). And they’re probably not the music of choice for nearby restaurant Rosati or the local RSL, who were leading the push against the new name. I suspect, though, that the change finally went through because whispered to Lord Mayor John So, “Just think, John… photo opportunity…”
“Get me some bagpipe players and you’re on!”
So on October 1st, 2004, ACDC Lane was officially born (the lightning bolt traditionally used to separate “AC” and “DC” was not allowed under the rules of the Office of the Registrar of Geographic Names.)
Lord Mayor John So – smelling the cameras – launched ACDC Lane with the words, “As the song says, there is a highway to hell, but this is a laneway to heaven. Let us rock.” Bagpipers then played It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll).
Visiting ACDC Lane on a Monday afternoon, I didn’t see many about to rock. Mostly just office workers having a ciggie on their lunch break. Also, there’s sadly no takeaways on ACDC Lane, so no-one gets to make that playground joke that “It’s A Long Way To The Shop If You Want A Sausage Roll”. Although you could argue that their absence proves the maxim right.
In 2007 The Age reported that in the first two years of renaming, six of the ACDC Lane street signs had gone missing. It is the most stolen street sign in Melbourne, as this suspiciously street-sign-sized gap attests:
But it turns out Melbourne isn’t the first city to name a street after AC/DC, nor John So the first Mayor to use it as a photo-op.
No, that honour goes to the Spanish town of Leganes (a satellite of Madrid), and the mayor was Jose Perez Raiz. To add insult to injury, AC/DC actually turned up to the opening of Calle de AC/DC in March, 2000. Here’s a picture (from AC/DC website Crabsody In Blue) of Angus and Malcolm Young with Mayor Raiz.
Doesn’t he look happy?
We’ve had AC/DC, then Dame Edna – surely it’s time for another Melbourne laneway to get the celebrity treatment? I don’t know if you’re reading this, City Of Melbourne, but may I humbly make a couple of suggestions of great Melbourne artists who deserve recognition?
I’m just saying.
Here’s some more images of AC/DC Lane.