If you’re a fan of rock, odds are you’re familiar with the song ’Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again‘ by The Angels. Even if you only have a casual interest, you probably recognise the response to the chorus line in the title, where the crowd yells back, “No way! Get f***ed! F*** off!”. But this classic Aussie rock song wasn’t always like this. In its current state, the song is as classic rock as it can get, but at its creation, it was actually an acoustic ballad.
Despite common interpretation, ’Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again‘ initially detailed the emotional journey of a friend of the lead singer (the late Doc Neeson), whose girlfriend died in a motorcycle accident and how he dealt with that loss.
The ever-recognisable guitar riff at the beginning of the song was written to resemble an ambulance siren heading to the scene of the accident, while the core of the song was about the friend trying to deal with that loss.
But how did the song go through such a dramatic change? Well, it began in Sydney. There was a DJ who ran blue light discos, who played the song and pioneered the response, even turned the volume of the song down to encourage the crowd to join in.
This gained such popularity in Sydney that it carried over to a concert in Mount Isa where, quite understandably, The Angels were blown away as a few members of the crowd began to tell them to f*** off as they played their final song — almost as if it had taken the crowd this long to decide they didn’t like music after all.
After the show, they spoke with the fans using the response, and discovered the source. However, instead of trying to stop fans from telling them to f*** off, The Angels embraced this evolution of the song, playing it with a progressively more upbeat tone, and encouraging the response, even saying that the song became the audience’s song.
Eventually this graduated to the point where we have the version of the song we know and love to sing along to today. A song that was once about a man grieving for his dead spouse is now instead one of the most fun call and response songs in rock because of one cheeky DJ.
Words by Joshua Paddon