This Day in Music – Back In Black

On this day 25th July 1980, AC/DC released their sixth internationally released studio album ‘Back In Black’, the first AC/DC album recorded without former lead singer Bon Scott, who died on 19 February 1980 at the age of 33.

If you said to me, I’m going to form a heavy rock band, name it after the letters on a vacuum cleaner, get the guitarist to dress up as a schoolboy and write songs about – drinking, sex and being a lad, I’d tell you to shut up and stop wasting my time.

Just as well this lot didn’t.

The album has now sold an estimated 49 million copies worldwide to date, making it the second highest selling album of all time – and the best selling hard rock or heavy metal album, as well as the best selling album ever released by a band. AC/DC have sold more than 200 million albums worldwide. Now that’s a lot of records!

Unless you’re a fan or you know about these things, you might not appreciate just how big AC/DC are. They’ve had roads named after them, sold almost as many records as Michael Jackson, and do you know what – I bet anyone from the group could stand next to you in the supermarket and you wouldn’t know who they were.

Brothers Malcolm, Angus, and George Young were born in Glasgow, Scotland, and moved to Sydney, Australia in 1963. George who was the first to learn to play the guitar became a member of the Easybeats, one of Australia’s most successful bands of the 1960s. In 1966, they became the first local rock act to have an international hit, with the song “Friday on My Mind.”

The two younger brothers Malcolm and Angus Young developed the idea for their band’s name after their older sister, Margaret Young, saw the initials “AC/DC” on a vacuum cleaner. “AC/DC” is an abbreviation meaning “alternating current/direct current” electricity. The brothers felt that this name symbolised the band’s raw energy and power-driven performances, (In Australia they are known as “Acca Dacca”).

AC/DC made their live debut on New Years Eve at Chequers Bar in Sydney, Australia. And that was the start, over the next 3 years they played anywhere and everywhere, developing their act into a full on rock & roll experience – Australian style.

Guitarist Angus Young, (who dresses as a school boy) ha tried other costumes, such as Spider-Man, Zorro, a gorilla, and a parody of Superman, named Super-Ang. Luckily he stuck with the School boy idea.

Tragedy struck in 1980 when their singer Bon Scott died on after a heavy night’s drinking. Scott was found in the passenger seat of a friend’s parked car. The official coroner’s report stated that he had “drunk himself to death”, after suffocating on his own vomit.

After the passing of Scott, AC/DC had a very difficult decision to make. Could they carry on without their charismatic lead singer? did they want to carry on? They decided Scott would’ve wanted them to – plus Scott’s parents urged them to continue and hire a new vocalist.

Enter 32-year-old English singer Brian Johnson who had previously been troubling the UK charts with his group Geordie. With his rough voice and looks to match – Johnson was made for AC/DC.

I always feel that AC/DC have a tongue placed firmly in one cheek. They never take the piss, but I get the feeling, (although utterly professional at all times), they don’t take themselves that seriously, I think they just love what they do.

Look at the evidence, they all have so much money, they need never work again. But they do. The group’s 2008 album Black Ice (their fifteenth studio album) made history by debuting at No.1 in 29 different countries. They are one of Australia’s biggest exports – in 2009 Business Review Weekly named AC/DC as the top Australian earner in entertainment with earnings of $105 million.

For Those About to Rock (We Salute You).


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