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“It was an apex moment in the history of live rock’n’roll”: Tom Morello on the night that he teamed up with Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder to perform an AC/DC cover

The trio got together to perform Highway To Hell in Melbourne in 2014, and the Rage Against The Machine was the man who made it happen



In 2013, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band were heading out on tour a man down – long-standing guitarist and Sopranos star Steve Van Zandt was committed to filming his Lilyhammer show and couldn’t make it. In his place, Springsteen invited Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello to join the band and the move led to something special. When the tour hit its Australian leg in early 2014, fans Down Under were treated to one of the most iconic live team-ups ever.

It was all Morello’s idea, the guitarist explained to Louder’s Niall Doherty. “We were playing in Perth, the home of Bon Scott, and I visited his grave to pay my respects late one night,” said Morello. “I was there and I couldn’t find his grave. It’s a big cemetery and Bon Scott’s grave does not have a spotlight on it. And out of the darkness comes this motorbike and there is me and a guy in a motorbike in the middle of a cemetery. And the fella’s got like a German World War Two helmet on and a T-shirt that says “I don’t give a shit but if I did, you’re the one I’d give it to”. I was like, “that guy is probably gonna know where Bon Scott’s grave is”. Sure enough, he did, and I paid my respects.”

The experience gave him an idea, though, and when he got back to the hotel, he asked Springsteen, ‘is there a way that the circle of AC/DC and  the circle of the E Street Band overlap in any way?’. “Maybe,” replied The Boss. “We began rehearsing Highway To Hell at soundcheck,” Morello continued, “and a few days later, we were playing a huge football stadium in Melbourne and Eddie Vedder happened to be at the show, he was on a solo tour at the time.”

On top of his first idea, now Morello had another and it involved the Pearl Jam frontman. “I knocked on Bruce’s dressing room door,” Morello explained, “and I got an idea of ‘what if here in the home where AC/DC is king, where the song Highway To Hell is like the unofficial national anthem, what if we opened the show with Highway To Hell with Eddie Vedder?’ And Bruce was like, ‘that sounds like pretty good idea’. So we did it and it was an apex moment in the history of live rock’n’roll. I mean, if you think you’ve seen people lose their minds, you haven’t – unless you were there.”

For those who weren’t in attendance, Morello kindly recreated the collaboration on his 2021 solo record The Atlas Underground Fire, but as good as that is, it would’ve been something to witness this live version: