“Whole Lotta Rosie” is a song by Australian hard rock band AC/DC. It is the eighth and final track on the band’s fourth Australian album, Let There Be Rock, released in Australia in March 1977, and was written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young, and Bon Scott. It is also the eighth and final track on the international version of the album, released in June the same year.
It was also released as a single in 1978, with a live version of the Let There Be Rock album track “Dog Eat Dog” as the B-side, which had been recorded in concert in Glasgow on 30 April 1978.
The song is about an obese Tasmanian woman, Rosie, with whom the singer (Bon Scott) had a one-night stand at the Freeway Gardens Motel in North Melbourne. In addition to pointing out the woman’s size, the singer finds her to be one of the most talented lovers he’s ever experienced.
The song’s first verse reveals Rosie’s substantial physical measurements (42″-39″-56″), and that she weighs nineteen stone (266 pounds/approximately 120 kilograms). On the Live from the Atlantic Studios disc, however, Scott describes the titular woman as “… a Tasmanian devil … weighs 305 pounds (138kg)…,” a measurement that differs from the “19 stone” lyric (305 lb being 21 st 11 lb).
In 1998, speaking to Vox magazine, Angus Young remembered:
We’d been in Tasmania and after the show [Bon Scott] said he was going to check out a few clubs. He said he’d got about 100 yards down the street when he heard this yell: ‘Hey! Bon!’ He looked around and saw this leg and thought: ‘Oh well!’ From what he said, there was this Rosie woman and a friend of hers. They were plying him with drinks and Rosie said to him: ‘This month I’ve slept with 28 famous people,’ and Bon went: ‘Oh yeah?!’ Anyway, in the morning he said he woke up pinned against the wall, he said he opened one eye and saw her lean over to her friend and whisper: ’29!’ There’s very few people who’ll go out and write a song about a big fat lady, but Bon said it was worthy.
One of AC/DC’s most popular songs, “Whole Lotta Rosie” has been included on each of the band’s official live albums: three with Scott If You Want Blood You’ve Got It (short version which misses the second guitar solo), Live from the Atlantic Studios, Let There Be Rock: The Movie – Live in Paris, the latter two released in 1997 as part of the Bonfire box set, and also four with Brian Johnson (released on Live, Live: 2 CD Collector’s Edition, the tour edition of Stiff Upper Lip, and also on Live at River Plate). The only other song that appears on all these releases is “The Jack”. A live video of “Whole Lotta Rosie” is also featured on the DVD Family Jewels, from a 1978 performance on the BBC’s TV concert series Rock Goes to College, on which Scott refers to Rosie as the “biggest, fattest woman who ever fornicated.”
When the song is performed live, the crowd will usually shout ‘Angus!’ in between each of the opening riffs. This has its origins in the version heard on If You Want Blood You’ve Got It, but a careful listen reveals that this was a regular chant patched into the song’s intro (the fourth chant of ‘Angus’ is noticeably early)
Current live performances of “Whole Lotta Rosie” are accompanied by a giant, inflatable “Rosie” as seen on the Live at Donington video. In March 2005, Q magazine placed the live version from If You Want Blood … at number 16 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.
Rosie was seen (at the same table as Brian Johnson) during the cartoon intro video that was played on the Black Ice World Tour. The song was also used in Brian Johnson’s audition as Scott’s successor.