Super fan doesn’t begin to describe Joshua Smith.
He’s gone to concerts, bought the memorabilia, and even shelled out for overseas trips to see the band. But, his crowning achievement in AC/DC fandom comes in the form of fabric and buttons. Lots of buttons.
Smith, a West Seattle resident, has spent decades collecting and compiling a trench coat bearing nearly 1,500 AC/DC fan buttons. The jacket, weighing nearly 25 pounds, took more than 60 hours to assemble in its entirety.
“It’s hard just to hold it up,” Smith said.
This fan project, which has gained international notoriety among AC/DC fans, started from much humbler beginnings. In 1983, Smith began wearing buttons on a horned cap. Three years later, the buttons spilled onto a Levis jacket, and then a trench coat in 2003. Smith’s most recent ode to the band, a wizard coat purchased for $80, holds 1,500 of his most beloved buttons.
“It’s intense. Over the top. I’ve created a monster,” he said.
Most fans of anything can easily recall their first experience with their muse, and Smith is no exception. He recalls first hearing AC/DC on KISW in 1979 when he was 17 years old. The song was “Highway to Hell,” and Smith was smitten.
“I just love the sound of the music,” he says.
Smith has been a fan ever since, having gone to 30 concerts in 30 years - his first was the band’s 1982 “For those about to Rock” tour.
The following year, Smith had a chance encounter with the band, when he and a friend were invited backstage to the VIP room. Smith got to meet the band and was introduced to band member Angus Young as “this is your number one fan.”
“I went home so excited,” Smith said. “Angus is really nice. So is the rest of the band.”
Smith’s concert charades have spanned two trips to Australia (the band’s home country), one wild trip to Germany, and numerous autographs and photos with band members. After winning a fan contest in 2000, Smith appeared on MTV to show the band his button coat and welcome them to the show. He remembers saying "welcome Acca Dacca,” the band’s nickname in their native Australia.
Over the years, Smith has gained notoriety as a fixture at concerts among other AC/DC fans fascinated by his jacket. Many ask for photographs. Some even ask for his autograph.
“I’m pretty laid-back. I never go out and ask people to take pictures with my coat,” he said.
This weekend, EMP will unveil AC/DC Family Jewels, its new exhibition chronicling the 35-year history of the band. Visitors can see Smith’s buttoned jacket on display at the museum throughout the summer.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s amazing how the band just keeps going, it’s great.”