This was released five months after lead singer Bon Scott died. The song is a tribute to Scott, and the lyrics, "Forget the hearse 'cause I never die" imply that he will live on forever through his music. With Brian Johnson on lead vocals, the Back In Black album proved that AC/DC could indeed carry on without Scott. (thanks, Nathan - Willow Spring, NC)
Bon Scott saw Brian Johnson singing for another band in a pub, and was so impressed by his vocals, when he met back up with AC/DC he told them to get Johnson if anything should ever happen to him. After Bon's death, Angus Young called Johnson up and offered him the position of lead vocalist. Johnson told him where he could put it and hung up (he thought someone was pranking him). Eventually, of course, it worked out. (thanks, Brian - Pittsburgh, PA)
The band got the idea for the title before writing any of the song, although Malcolm Young had the main guitar riff for years and used to play it frequently as a warm-up tune. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
This song was recorded in The Bahamas and produced in New York by Mutt Lange. Back In Black
was one of the first big albums Lange produced. He went on to work with Def Leppard, Celine Dion, and Shania Twain (who he married in 1993). In the late-'70s, he produced 2 albums for the band Clover, which featured Huey Lewis on harmonica and Alex Call on lead vocals. Call explains Lange's production style:
"Mutt is a real studio rat. He is Mr. Endurance in the studio. When we were making the records with him, he'd start working at 10:30, 11 in the morning and go until 3 at night, night after night. He is one of the guys that really developed that whole multi-multi-multi track recording. We'd do 8 tracks of background vocals going, "Oooooh" and bounce those down to one track and then do another 8, he was doing a lot of that. A lot of the things you hear on Def Leppard and that kind of stuff, he was developing that when he worked with us. We were the last record he did that wasn't enormous, and that's not his fault, he did a really good job with us. Mutt is famous for working long hours. The story I heard about one of the Shania sessions, he had Rob Hajakos, who's one of the famous fiddle session men down here (Nashville). Rob was playing violin parts for like 7 or 8 hours and finally he said, 'Can I take a break,' and Mutt says, 'What do you mean take a break?' Rob goes, 'Have you ever held one of these for 8 hours under your chin?' Mutt really loves to record, he loves music and he's a real perfectionist and an innovator. An unbelievable commercial hook writer." (Check out our interview with Alex Call
Bon Scott had several lyrical ideas for the album, but those were abandoned by the band in favor of new lyrics by Brian, Malcolm and Angus. Former AC/DC manager Ian Jeffrey claims to still have a folder that contains lyrics of 15 songs written for Back In Black by Bon. (thanks, Terry - Belleville, Canada)
The album had a black cover with the band's logo on it. It was a tribute to Bon Scott.
This was the title track to AC/DC's most popular album. It has sold over 19 million copies in the US, the 6th highest ever. Worldwide, it has sold over 40 million.
The Beastie Boys sampled this on their 1985 single "She's On It," which was used in the movie Krush Groove. When they asked permission to release it on their 1999 Greatest Hits album, AC/DC refused.
A remastered version is included on the 1997 Bon Scott tribute album, Bonfire.
The Atlanta Falcons football team used this as their theme song for a while. The Falcons also went through an MC Hammer phase, when they used "2 Legit 2 Quit" and let the rapper roam their sidelines.
This was used as the backing track to a bootleg version of Eminem's 1999 hit "My Name Is
" The song fits surprisingly well under Eminem's rap.
Missy Elliott did a remix of this song called "Get Your Freak On (AC/DC remix)" that is played in the beginning of the movie The Rundown, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Sean William Scott. (thanks, Steve - Kitchener, Canada)
The Appalachian State Mountaineers football team use this song before and during their games, where it is a crowd favorite. The team colors are gold and black. (thanks, Laura K. - Toccoa, GA)
Vocalist Brian Johnson recalled to Mojo magazine November 2009 that when the band asked him to write a lyric for this song, "they said, 'it can't be morbid - it has to be for Bon and it has to be a celebration.'" He added: "I thought, 'Well nae pressure there, then' (laughs). I just wrote what came into my head, which at the time seemed like mumbo, jumbo. 'Nine lives. Cats eyes. Abusing every one of them and running wild.' The boys got it though. They saw Bon's life in that lyric."