AC/DC is one of hard rock’s most revered bands of all time. The band was formed in Australia by founders Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Bon Scott, and Phil Rudd. They are best known for their songs “Back in Black,” “Highway to Hell,” “Thunderstruck” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” and “For Those About to Rock We Salute You.” These rock anthems have been blaring on rock stations for decades, with the Back in Black album constantly taking the top spot on many hard rock top lists.
The success of AC/DC has been remarkable. After a few successful albums with singer Bon Scott like Powerage, Let There Be Rock, and High Voltage, the band collaborated with producer Mutt Lange in 1978. The band was at an all-time high after the release of Highway to Hell, their most successful album at that point.. The band and the rock world was dealt a hard blow to the head when Bon Scott died before recording their next album in 1980. With the blessing of Bon Scott’s family, the band struck luck with new singer Brian Johnson. His style of singing fit in perfectly with the old music, and the even more successful new music that was about to be created.
In July 1980, just five months after Bon Scott died, the band released the massive Back in Black album. The album featured the hits “You Shook Me All Night Long,” “Hells Bells,” “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution,” “Have a Drink on Me,” “Shoot to Thrill,” and “Giving the Dog a Bone.” As a tribute to Bon Scott, they recorded this epic masterpiece of rock n’ roll featuring two songs as direct tributes to Bon: Hells Bells and Back in Black. The album went on to become the best selling album ever released by any band, and remains the #2 best selling album of all time behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller album.
AC/DC has released 16 original studio albums. 7 of those albums featured Bon Scott as the lead singer, with the remaining 9 albums featuring Brian Johnson. It’s worth noting that the band was much more creative in the Bon Scott era, releasing on the average 1.5 original studio albums per year. With Johnson since 1980, the band has released an average of 3.1 albums per year, with the distance between those albums getting longer and longer (Stiff Upper Lip was released in 2000, with Black Ice following 8 years later in 2008). However, the band has released many live album compilations and box sets.
Here are the studio albums released by the band:
- High Voltage (1975)
- T.N.T. (1975)
- High Voltage International (1976)
- Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976)
- Let There Be Rock (1977)
- Powerage (1978)
- Highway to Hell (1979)
- Back in Black (1980)
- For Those About to Rock (1981)
- Flick of the Switch (1983)
- Fly on the Wall (1985)
- Blow Up Your Video (1988)
- The Razors Edge (1990)
- Ballbreaker (1995)
- Stiff Upper Lip (2000)
- Black Ice (2008)
Fall and Rise with Razor’s Edge, Ballbreaker
The band experienced a slight lag in sales and popularity in the mid to late 80’s, with three consecutive albums that did not fare as well during the hair metal era of music. That all changed in 1990 with the release of The Razors Edge, which featured one of the band’s biggest hits, “Thunderstruck,” as well as concert favorite “Moneytalks.” The album sold over five million copies and catapulted the band back into the spotlight. From the Razors Edge tour, the live concerts spawned the AC/DC Live disc, which was also a phenomenal success, and is widely considered one of the best live albums ever made.
AC/DC took a five year break from recording a new album, releasing the album Ballbreaker in 1995. It featured the rock radio hit “Hard as a Rock,” and was produced by Rick Rubin.
Further Rise in Popularity in the 2000’s
In 2010, the band released the soundtrack to Iron Man 2, which featured 15 tracks as well as a deluxe DVD edition.
In the mid 2000’s, the band’s popularity continued to climb even though there were no actual albums released by the band. T-shirts, old albums, and merchandise became extremely popular, with a new generation of rockers discovering AC/DC for the first time. Like Black Sabbath is to heavy metal, AC/DC are regarded as the godfathers of all things hard rock. The music from Back in Black in particular has been widely cited as influential on modern day rock acts including many heavy metal bands.
Concert Ticket Sales, Hall of Fame Induction, and Top Lists
The band also is known for its exciting live shows. Lead guitarist Angus Young is widely regarded as one of the best guitarists in rock, for both his rhythm and leads. During shows, he has a few trademark antics he relies on, and the audience has come to expect. The most famous is the hopping on one leg while playing the guitar move, but he’s been known to go into purposeful “spasms” on the floor and on occasion, moon the crowd. Angus plays almost exclusively with a Gibson SG.
In 2003, AC/DC was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which featured a duet performance of “You Shook Me All Night Long” with Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the band #72 on their countdown of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Their 2008-2010 Black Ice World Tour grossed over $440 million dollars, making it their most successful tour, and the 2nd highest grossing tour ever.