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The phrase that this song's title is based on is "For those about to Die..." It came from Rome, where gladiators would fight to the death in the arena. Before each match, a person would always say to the high rulers: "Those who are about to die salute you." AC/DC just changed some words to get "For Those About to Rock - We Salute You." (thanks, Shane - Boston, MA)
Angus Young got the idea for the title when Bon Scott gave him a book about ancient Rome by Robert Graves called For Those About To Die, We Salute You.
The band got the idea to use cannons in this song when they were rehearsing in Paris and the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana was on a nearby TV and cannons could be heard to celebrate the wedding. At AC/DC's concerts, two cannons set up behind the band were used to perform this song. It wasn't the first time they augmented their show with nontraditional instruments. In 1980, they used an enormous bell on stage to ring in "Hell's Bells."
AC/DC also wasn't the first band to use artillery on stage. When Emerson, Lake & Palmer played the Isle of Wight festival in 1970, the fired two cannons at the end of their performance of "Pictures At An Exhibition." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2)
This wasn't the first time AC/DC substituted the word "Rock" into a well known phrase; the title of their 1977 album Let there be Rock is based on the biblical phrase "Let there be Light." (thanks, Tom - Trowbridge, England)
This was the title track to their only album that went to #1 in America. The cannons in the stage show took a while to perfect. They originally had 21 smaller ones, which created an enormous amount of sparks.
Jack Black quotes this in the film School Of Rock as words of inspiration to his band before they perform at The Battle of the Bands. (thanks, Tom - Trowbridge, England)
In 2012, AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson revealed that the stage cannons often burned him during performances of this song, with "horrible sparks" falling on his shoulders.
He wrote "She Blinded Me With Science" so he could direct a video about a home for deranged scientists.
Kim Thayil of Soundgarden
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