AC/DC: Monsters of Rock Donington Park 1981

Monsters of Rock festival August 22, 1981
I’m continuing my AC/DC memories with thoughts on the 1981 Monsters of Rock Festival. The line up for this, which was the second Monsters of Rock event was AC/DC; Whitesnake; Blue Öyster Cult; Slade; Blackfoot; More.
I went along to this gig with a group of mates in the back of a Transit van with one of my friends driving us. We went primarily to see AC/DC, who were a favourite band of all of us, although many of us were also fans of Blue Oyster Cult. This was our first visit to Donington, and for me is for the first of several visits to the Monsters of Rock festival over the next 10 years. My recollection of the day is a very cold and wet one, with, as often the case for festivals in the UK, quite a bit of rain. The first couple of bands: More and Blackfoot weren’t anything special as I recall, but Slade went down well as they always did at a festival.  
I’d seen Slade tear the place apart at the Reading Festival the year before, in common with many others in the Donington crowd, and that Reading comeback meant that they were now well accepted by the heavy rock fraternity. I also remember lots of cans etc being thrown across the crowd that day. The sound mix for Blue Oyster Cult was awful and they were a big disappointment for all of us; it didn’t go well for them at all that day. Whitesnake were on top form around this time with Coverdale in great voice, delivering classics like Mistreated and Ain’t no love in the heart of the city. AC/DC closed the day and were great, their show translating well to a massive open air setting. The AC/DC setlist at Donington was: Hells Bells; Shot Down in Flames; Sin City; Back in Black; Bad Boy Boogie; The Jack; What Do You Do For Money Honey; Highway to Hell; High Voltage; Whole Lotta Rosie; Rocker; T.N.T.; Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution; You Shook Me All Night Long; Let There Be Rock. Over the next couple of days I’ll do a write up on the 1984 and 1991 Monsters of Rock festivals, which will bring my AC/DC memories up to date. I’ll then move on to another band. I haven’t been there since 1991, but am planning to go to Download at Donington in June this year to see the reformed original Black Sabbath, unless they add any indoor shows before then.

7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Woolo on August 27, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Good call I remember it well, once Slade started thowing loo rolls into the crowd the place erupted!! for the rest of the set the sky was filled with every missile imaginable.. Even a tractor tyre! Although there were one or two casulities after that lol.


  2. Posted by Jed on March 31, 2015 at 1:35 am

    I remember the bags of dubious liquid being launched, and the what passed for toilets, a plank over a pit , surrounded by corrugated iron !


  3. Posted by Paul Kazakoff on September 24, 2019 at 2:07 am

    Long time ago now but what I can remember is the weather being pretty crap and the bands overall good but the sound system was rubbish and quite disappointing.Sound did improve as the day wore on .AC/DC were the highlight for sure.The atmosphere there was pretty darn good even though it was spoilt by the weather and P.A.


  4. Posted by Liam on November 2, 2020 at 12:33 pm

    Remember it well. Drove up from Cardiff with 3 mates in a mini which got stuck in the car park mud due to the heavy rain all day.
    AC/DC and Slade were good value and Slade got the crowd going with all the loo roll throwing etc. and I remember people lit fires to keep warm and the smoke was everywhere. Toilets a joke, just a great big whole in the ground so care not to fall in !
    Yeh atmosphere was good even if the weather was poor !


    • Posted by vintagerock on November 2, 2020 at 12:52 pm

      Hi Liam thanks for your memories, which helped fill in some of the gaps in mine. Slade are one of my all-time best bands. Happy days. Is it really so long ago? It seems like yesterday in many ways and in others it is a lifetime away. Cheers Peter


  5. Posted by GunnerUSAF on January 12, 2023 at 4:45 am

    I was there. As a “Yank” in the military at RAF Upper Heyford at the time, it was really cool to see some good ole’ Southern Rock as Blackfoot dished out. BOC, while the sound was crappy, were really cool too. And Slade? Awesome set!! Never even saw AC/DC. Too drunk and I passed out as they were opening their set!


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