Highway to Hell
Writer(s): Bon Scott, Angus Young, Malcolm Young (see lyrics here)
Released: July 27, 1979
First Charted: September 1, 1979
Peak: 47 US, 57 CB, 57 HR, 1 CL, 2 AR, 14 UK, 24 AU, 4 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 1.5 US, 1.2 UK, 3.86 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 419.6 video, 1269.83 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
The hard-rock band AC/DC formed in Australian in 1973. They released six albums in the 1970s before tragedy struck and lead singer Bon Scott died of alcohol poisoning on February 19, 1980 at 33 years old. 1979’s Highway to Hell, Scott’s final album, became the group’s most successful up to that point, selling seven million copies in the United States.
The song “Highway to Hell” became a heavy metal classic. Guitarist Angus Young referred to the band’s gruelling tour schedule and the generally arduous nature of life on the road as “a highway to hell.” WK It was also a nickname for the Canning Highway in Australia. One end of the highway, near a pub called the Raffles, was known as a deadly spot where people were killed driving too fast. When Scott said he was on a highway to hell, it meant he was heading down Canning Highway to the Raffles to party. SF
Author Dave Thompson said “AC/DC have ripped out some of modern rock’s most remarkable anthems and timeless riffs. ‘Highway to Hell’ is the pinnacle of both.” DT Cashbox called the song a “bone crunching, gut-wrenching exercise in primal guitar rock.” WK Record World said that “growling vocals join a raunchy guitar assault for simple, high voltage, rock ‘n’ roll abandon.” WK
Up until that point, AC/DC’s albums had all been produced by Harry Vanda and George Young, brother of bandmates Malcolm and Angus. For Highway to Hell, the record company forced the band to work with Eddie Kramer, best known for working with Jim Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Kiss. When the band didn’t get along with him, Mutt Lange – best known for working with Boomtown Rats and Graham Parker – came on board. With his help, AC/DC was able to showcase their double-guitar sound. It became even more of a factor on Back in Black, the blockbuster album which came after Bon Scott’s death and the arrival of new lead singer Brian Johnson.
First posted 7/24/2023.