From Sydney to the world, AC/DC became one of the best-selling bands of all time. It really doesn’t get more rock n roll than this…
…And “best-selling of all time” is no exaggeration. Back In Black sold over 50 million copies, with only Michael Jackson’s Thriller having more purchases to its name.
Sadness and Success
If you didn’t know, the legendary Back In Black album almost didn’t exist along with AC/DC as a whole (imagine that!?). Sadly in 1980, original vocalist Bon Scott passed away, and the rest of the band members were unsure how they could possibly go on without him.
However, they were convinced to keep going, and this is where Brian Johnson came into the rock-n-roll-picture. Back In Black was the first album released with Johnson on board, and was a complete smash hit. The concept was about mourning the loss of Scott, hence the colour black.
A fun fact: when Back In Black was released and stormed to success, previous albums Highway To Hell, If You Want Blood You’ve Got It, and Let There Be Rock all found themselves back in the Top 100, making AC/DC the first band since The Beatles to have achieved 4 albums all in the Top 100 at the same time!
Rock N Roll Train
It wouldn’t be a Rockschool Guitar syllabus without some AC/DC thrown in there, so we grasped the opportunity in Grade 2 with “Rock N Roll Train”. It was the first track on their 15th studio album, Black Ice, the last album to feature the Back In Black era line up of musicians before Malcolm Young sadly had to leave due to his onset of dementia. After the 2000 Stiff Upper Lip album, fans of the band had a long 8 year wait for the Black Ice release in 2008. The album was highly praised for its likeness to the classic AC/DC sound and let’s be honest – what’s not to love about that?!
On the Black Ice tour, “Rock N Roll Train” was the opening number, and to say it opened with a bang is an understatement. A cartoon was played on the big screen, at the end of which a real-life-sized train came charging on to the stage - the band were then revealed, and the gig began. An entrance worthy only of superstars!
Now, the guitar nerds of the world will know this like the back of their hands, but for the rest of us mere mortals, we NEED to talk guitars in the context of AC/DC, and particularly Angus Young. It is arguably because of him that the Gibson SG guitar, now the best-selling Gibson model of all time, became so iconic! Angus was in good company in loving the SG; Bernard Sumner of Joy Division and New Order, Robby Krieger of The Doors, Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath and Mike Oldfield all loved the instrument just as much.
Young eventually collaborated with Gibson to create the Angus Young SG with custom features like the humbucker in the bridge position, ’57 classic in the neck position and of course the lightning-bolt inlay.
It is by no accident that AC/DC ranked in the Rolling Stone “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. The mark they have made on the rock -world is undoubtedly HUGE, and their music will continue to thrill audiences for decades to come.