AC/DC forgot the hearse and took another round with the rolling thunder and fast machine fever of this triumphant tribute. The group had been started in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, who had been born in Scotland and emigrated to Australia with their family a decade earlier. In 1975, they released two albums in Australia and New Zealand (High Voltage and T.N.T.) before signing an international deal with Atlantic Records. In 1976, they put out another version of High Voltage that compiled tracks from the first two records and then Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. Let There Be Rock and Powerage failed to break the band in the US; but when they recorded Highway to Hell with producer "Mutt" Lange, they cracked the top twenty of the US album chart.
They began work on their next album, but it was cut short when lead singer Bon Scott died after a night of drinking in London on February 19, 1980. His friend Alistair Kinnear had tried to move him into his house; but, when he couldn't, left Scott in the car overnight. In the morning after he could not wake him, Alistair Kinnear brought Scott to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Angus Young considers: “By the way he carried himself, you really thought that Bon Scott was immortal. He would drink like a fish, and when you saw him the next morning, he’d be no worse for wear. And you’d think to yourself, ‘How does this guy do this?’... [After Scott's death] Malcolm called me and said, 'Me and you will keep working on the songs that we had been writing. It'll take our minds off all of this."
They held auditions for a new lead singer and settled on Brian Johnson from British band Geordie. Johnson remembers: "I'd met Bon about five years earlier, when he was with a different band, and he was supporting Geordie, the band I was in, and we got to know each other then. He was the funniest man and we had a lovely time. But it was all too brief. He wasn't half as good as he was when he joined AC/DC. They brought something out in him, as they did with me. When they start playing, they bring something out in ya that's just inexplicable. I can sing with a charity band, good rock 'n' rollers, all great players, and I'll sing all in tune and do me thing, but it just doesn't sound the same. But when I sit down with the boys in a rehearsal room -- 'let's kick this one around' -- and boom, this thing comes out that I really can't explain, and I don't want to. The first thing I noticed about these guys was how straight they were. There wasn't two faces at all."
'Back in Black' was recorded during April and May of 1980 in the Bahamas at Compass Point Studios in Nassau. Robert John "Mutt" Lange produced the sessions that featured Brian Johnson on lead vocals; Angus Young on lead guitar; Malcolm Young on rhythm guitar and backing vocals; Cliff Williams on bass guitar and backing vocals; and Phil Rudd on drums.
The band opted for a black album cover as a sign of mourning. Angus asserts: "We didn't want to put in memory of, because Bon wasn't that sort of person. I think we calmed down a bit, but if there's a party, we can still put on a good show."
'Back in Black' went to number thirty-six in Switzerland; twenty-four in New Zealand; twelve in Sweden; eight in Norway; six in Austria; four in the US; and number one in Australia, Canada, France, and the UK. It made its debut at the top of the British album chart and went on to become one of the best selling albums of all time with an estimated fifty million copies sold worldwide.
Johnson says: "When I joined them, the lads just said, 'Listen, we'll put you on a wage for six months and if it doesn't work out, then nobody's hurt.' I said, 'These guys are straight shooters, there's no bullshit.' So of course, after three months, Back in Black went to number one, and their manager came and said, 'I think we'd better talk.' Back in Black was number one, and I didn't have a contract. I was still on a wage. I signed it and they were great."
"You Shook Me All Night Long"
AC/DC - You Shook Me All Night Long by hushhush112
"Back in Black"
'Back in Black'
All songs written and composed by Angus Young, Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson.
1. "Hells Bells" 5:10
2. "Shoot to Thrill" 5:17
3. "What Do You Do for Money Honey" 3:33
4. "Given the Dog a Bone" 3:30
5. "Let Me Put My Love Into You" 4:16
1. "Back in Black" 4:14
2. "You Shook Me All Night Long" 3:30
3. "Have a Drink on Me" 3:57
4. "Shake a Leg" 4:06
5. "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution" 4:15