Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (song)

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"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"
Dirty Deeds ACDC UK single.jpg
Single by AC/DC
from the album Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
B-side"R.I.P. (Rock in Peace)"
Released5 October 1976 (1976-10-05) (Australia)
1977 (UK and international)
1981 (USA)
GenreHard rock
LabelAlbert Productions
AC/DC singles chronology
"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"
"Love at First Feel"

"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" is a hard rock song by the Australian band AC/DC. Written by group members Angus Young, Malcolm Young, and Bon Scott, it was recorded for the title track of their album Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, released in September 1976.

It was also released as a single – first in Australia in October 1976 with "R.I.P. (Rock in Peace)" as its B-side, and then in the UK in January 1977 as a maxi-single with "Big Balls" and "The Jack" as its B-sides. Once the Dirty Deeds album was finally released in the US in 1981 the "Dirty Deeds..." single was released there (backed by "Highway To Hell"), where it reached number four on the then-new Top Tracks chart.

The song ranked No. 24 on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs[1] and in 2009 it was named the 31st best hard rock song of all time also by VH1.[2]

It features a backing vocal consisting of a heavy breathing sound, made on the downbeat during verses. It also features the title in a spoken-word style at the end of the chorus; plus a scream at the end of the song. The full-length recording (approximately 4:11) has the title of the song chanted four times starting at 3:09, but on the more common edited version (approximately 3:51) the chant is heard only twice.


The song's narrator, a hitman, invites people experiencing problems to either call his phone number or visit him at his home, at which point he will perform assorted unsavoury and violent acts to resolve said problems. Situations in which he offers assistance include those involving lewd high school headmasters and significant others who are either adulterous or who persistently find fault with their partners. As detailed by the song, the "dirty deeds" performed at low cost include:

Two of the services offered share names with AC/DC's first two Australian albums, T.N.T. and High Voltage. They are also the names of songs that appeared on Australia's T.N.T. and the international version of High Voltage.


The phrase "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" is an homage to the cartoon Beany and Cecil, which Angus Young watched when he was a child. One of the cartoon's characters was named Dishonest John, who carried a business card that read: "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. Holidays, Sundays, and Special Rates." “It was Angus that came up with the song title…" Malcolm Young told Mark Blake. "It was based on a cartoon character that had the phrase as his calling card. Then Bon stuck in the line ‘I’m dirty, mean, mighty unclean’ from an advert for mosquito spray that was running on Aussie TV at the time. Yes, we were always a very topical band.”[3]


In 1981, Norman and Marilyn White of Libertyville, Illinois filed a $250,000 lawsuit in Lake County, Illinois Circuit Court against Atlantic Records and its distributors because, they alleged, their telephone number was included in the song, resulting in hundreds of prank phone calls. Their attorney told the Chicago Tribune that the song's 36-24-36 digits were followed by a "hey!", which to his clients sounded like an "8", thus creating the couple's phone number.[4]

Chart history[edit]

Chart (1976) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[5] 29
New Zealand Singles Chart[6] 34
Chart (1980–81) Peak
UK Singles Chart[7] 47
US Mainstream Rock 4


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Mexico (AMPROFON)[8] Gold 30,000double-dagger

double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone


Live recordings[edit]

"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (live)"
Single by AC/DC
from the album AC/DC Live
B-side"Shoot to Thrill" (live)
Released1992 (1992)
Recorded23 April 1991
VenueNEC, Birmingham, England
GenreHard rock
Producer(s)Bruce Fairbairn
AC/DC singles chronology
"Highway to Hell (live)"
"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (live)"
"Big Gun"
Music video
"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" (AC/DC Live) on YouTube

"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" has only been included on one official AC/DC live album, 1992's Live, sung by Scott's replacement Brian Johnson. This live version was released as a single. A video clip for the single was released containing footage from the Live at Donington home video, as well as other old clips mixed in the video. This video clip was later released on the DVD Family Jewels Disc 3, as part of the 2009 box set Backtracks.

An earlier version with Bon Scott, recorded live in Sydney (Haymarket) at the Festival of Sydney on 30 January 1977, was released on an Australian only radio 2JJ compilation album titled Long Live The Evolution. This live version was later released on Backtracks.

In 2007 on the Plug Me In three track bonus CD from Best Buy, a live version from Detroit, Michigan, (Joe Louis Arena) 17 or 18 November 1983 was released.

Joan Jett cover[edit]

"Dirty Deeds"
Dirty Deeds - Joan Jett.jpg
Single by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
from the album The Hit List
B-side"Let It Bleed"
(non-album track)
ReleasedJanuary 1990
LabelBlackheart Records
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts singles chronology
"Little Liar"
"Dirty Deeds"
"Love Hurts"

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts recorded the song, shortening the title to "Dirty Deeds," and included it on their LP, The Hit List, in the winter of 1990. It was released as a single and charted internationally.

Chart history[edit]

Chart (1990) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report) 64
Canada RPM Top Singles[10] 81
New Zealand 14
UK (The Official Charts Company) 69
US Billboard Hot 100[11] 36
US Billboard Mainstream Rock 23
US Cash Box Top 100 [12] 42

Recordings by others[edit]


  1. ^ "VH1 40 Greatest Metal Songs", 1–4 May 2006, VH1 Channel, reported by VH1.com; last accessed 10 September 2006.
  2. ^ "spreadit.org music". Archived from the original on February 12, 2009. Retrieved February 7, 2009.
  3. ^ loudersound.com/features/ac-dc-malcolm-young-the-lost-interview
  4. ^ Hirsley, Michael (October 10, 1981). "'Dirty Deeds' bring suit". Chicago Tribune. p. W3.
  5. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  6. ^ "AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 2010-02-27.
  7. ^ "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2010-02-27.
  8. ^ "Certificaciones" (in Spanish). Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Retrieved 10 October 2020. Type AC/DC in the box under the ARTISTA column heading and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap in the box under TÍTULO
  9. ^ Saulnier, Jason (30 September 2011). "Mark Evans Interview". Music Legends. Archived from the original on 7 November 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  10. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada" (PDF). Collectionscanada.gc.ca. March 10, 1990. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  11. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  12. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, March 3, 1990[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]