|First posted 10/24/2020.|
Back in Black
Writer(s): Brian Johnson, Angus Young, Malcolm Young (see lyrics here)
First Charted: December 13, 1980
Peak: 37 US, 39 CB, 54 HR, 1 CL, 51 AR, 27 UK, 65 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.6 UK, 4.05 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 612.0 video, -- streaming
About the Song:
After five successful albums in their native Australia, AC/DC were finally being embraced by an international market with 1979’s Highway to Hell, an album which went top 10 in the UK and top 20 in the U.S. Then tragedy struck. Rock singer Bon Scott died on February 19, 1980. On his death certificate, the official cause was listed as acute alcohol poisoning.
The group considered disbanding, but on the advice of their producer, Mutt Lange, brought in Brian Johnson for an audition. Scott himself had seen him perform with his former band Geordie back in 1973 and talked up the singer to the rest of the band. SF By the end of March, he had the job as the new singer for AC/DC.
Among the new songs recorded by the group was a song called “Back in Black,” which was a tribute to Scott. Guitarist Malcolm Young already had the main guitar riff down and the group already had the idea for the title before it had any words. SF Johnson recalled that the band asked him to write the lyrics, saying “it can’t be morbid – it has to be for Bon and it has to be a celebration.” WK Johnson responded with words such as “Forget the hearse, ‘cause I never die” and what he considered “mumbo jumbo” lines like “Nine lives. Cats’ eyes. Abusing every one of them and running wild.” The band, however, told Johnson “they saw Bon’s life in that lyric.” WK
While the song wasn’t a big hit from a chart standpoint, its iconic opening guitar riff made it into what The Guardian called “a classic metal anthem.” WK Metal Hammer magazine said, “There are rock songs that appeal to metal fans. And there are metal songs that appeal to rock fans. Then there is ‘Back in Black’ – a rock song and metal song that appeals to everyone…and it all hangs on that monumental, no-nonsense, three-chord monster of a riff.” WK
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