SYDNEY - Thousands of AC/DC fans Sunday flocked to a small, rural Australian town for the launch of the group's first new album in six years -- and also their first without founding member Malcolm Young, who is suffering from dementia.
Wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with images of the veteran band and the trademark caps with protruding red horns, fans gathered in the New South Wales town The Rock to be among the first in the world to listen to the new "Rock or Bust" album.
The band -- which has endured controversy in recent weeks after drummer Phil Rudd was accused of drug possession and threatening to kill -- did not attend the launch but the album tracks were played by record executives at an event at the town's market.
Councillor John Paterson said thousands endured sweltering temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) to attend the event.
"There were at least a couple of thousand (fans), it was very well supported," Paterson told AFP. The Rock is some 500 kilometres south-west of Sydney and has a population of less than 1000.
"It was probably one of the biggest crowds we've seen for a very long time.
"'Rock or Bust' obviously went over very well because of the association with the name of our town... I can assure you that the song will be a new anthem for our little town here at The Rock."
It is not the first time a world-famous musical group has opted to launch an album in a rural Australian town.
French group Daft Punk last year launched their "Random Access Memories" in remote Wee Waa, a far-flung town with a population of just 1,653 in the state's north.
AC/DC, which was founded by Malcolm and Angus Young in Australia in 1973, is one of the biggest-selling bands in history.
The group plans to back the new album with a global tour in 2015, although their line-up is unclear after recent setbacks.
The rockers were dealt a blow when it was revealed in September that dementia had forced one of its founding members, Malcolm Young, to retire and move into a Sydney care facility.
They were hit with a further setback when New Zealand prosecutors filed a murder-for-hire case against drummer Phil Rudd before quickly dropping it, citing insufficient evidence.
Rudd, 60, is still accused of drug possession and threatening to kill, which carries a jail term of up to seven years. He is expected to appear in court on November 27 on these charges.
Singer Brian Johnson and guitarist Angus Young hinted last week that the band may look to replace him ahead of the tour.
The Grammy award winners were inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 after a string of hits including "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap", "Jailbreak" and "Highway to Hell".
The "Rock or Bust" album is their first since 2008's "Black Ice" and features 11 tracks. It will be officially released on December 2.