Jackyl’s Jesse James Dupree Calls AC/DC ‘Force of Nature’
Jackyl frontman Jesse James Dupree became friends with AC/DC's Brian Johnson back in the '90s. In addition to co-writing a pair of Jackyl songs -- 1997's "Locked and Loaded" and 2002's "Kill the Sunshine" -- Johnson invited Dupree to hang out during the sessions for his band's 2000 LP Stiff Upper Lip.
As Dupree told us, it was an eye-opening experience. Expecting some "incredibly complex process" to arrive at that "magic formula," instead he noted that Malcolm and Angus Young "have got their 4x12 cabinets and their Marshall heads on top of the cabinets, and the cabinets are back to back and they’re out in the hallway, right outside of the control room with an SM57 just stuck out there in the speakers — I mean, it’s just that pure."
A lifelong AC/DC fan, Dupree also saw the band during the Back in Black tour -- a memory that made him recall what it meant to love a band in those days. He also shared a story about his friendship with Johnson that spoke about the importance of that milestone 1980 album, especially the title track, in his life.
You got a chance to see the band from the front row when you were growing up. What was it like seeing the band in that era?
Well, you know, I camped out for a couple of nights to be front row to AC/DC on the Back in Black tour. Back then, getting concert tickets was a commitment, because you didn’t have your computer at home. You had to go down and camp underneath the parking garage at the mall. You’d be there for a couple of days, and whoever showed up first started a list. You camped out there, and then on the day the tickets went on sale, the security guys would open up the doors and let you in 10 [people] at a time to go back through the clothing department [of the store] to get those tickets. So it was a hell of a commitment to go stand front row at AC/DC back then, and of course, they were just such an influence and such a force of nature.
What was your favorite AC/DC moment?
As far as the AC/DC legacy, I remember one night, Brian and I went to a festival. I was actually getting presented a plaque, Jackyl was the most-played band at WXTB-FM in Tampa that year. Brian lives an hour south of there, so he said, “Fly into the house and we’ll go out of here.” We rode up to the festival together and we were there for a while, and then he goes, “You know, if you don’t mind, sonny, I think I’m getting a little tired. Why don’t we head on back to the house.” I said, “Oh, yeah, let’s go.”
We went out and got in his car. These fans came running across from where the backstage was and they came up to the window. They had their Back in Black CDs and they said, “Will you please sign this?” He signed it for them and as humble as he is, he goes, “I’ve got Jesse sitting over here in the passenger seat,” and he hands me the CD, wanting to know if I wanted to sign the Back in Black record. I’m like, “Ahh, I’m not worthy,” you know? But the kids grabbed the CDs and they ran off.
He sat there for a second and I’m going, “What the hell?” He was just kind of staring straight ahead. He goes, “You know, I never understood that autograph thing.” I said, “Well, you know, for a lot of us, it’s probably take it or leave it, as far as whether somebody would really care about it or not. But you’ve got to realize, you sang 'Back in Black.' Everybody remembers where they were when Elvis [Presley] died, when John Kennedy got shot and where they were when they heard ‘Back in Black’ for the first time. That’s how significant it is.” So for me, the first time hearing “Back in Black” was probably that moment. I was always a huge Bon Scott fan, but the power of that Back in Black album and that song is just amazing.