The phrase that this song's title is based on is "For those about to die..."
This is a variation on the phrase "We who are about to die salute you," which is what Roman gladiators would say to the high rulers (typically the emperor), before fighting to the death in the arena.
AC/DC guitarist Angus Young got the idea after reading a book Bon Scott gave him about the gladiator games in ancient Rome. Young remembers the book as For Those About To Die We Salute You by Robert Graves, but Graves never wrote a book with that title. It's likely that the book was Those About to Die by Daniel Mannix.
This is the title track to the AC/DC album that followed Back In Black, one of the best-selling albums of all time. Back In Black never hit #1 on the US albums chart, but For Those About To Rock did (their 2008 release Black Ice also hit the top spot).
The only single from the album to hit the US Hot 100 was "Let's Get It Up," but this title track became a fan favorite. The song served AC/DC well, since it became a fixture at their live shows, which was always their bailiwick. In concert, the sound of cannons drowned out any disappointment fans felt toward the album.
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.
This 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."
Suggestion credit: Bertrand - Paris, France
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."
Suggestion credit: Tom - Trowbridge, England
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.
Suggestion credit: Tom - Trowbridge, England
In 2012, AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson revealed that the stage cannons often burn him during performances of this song, with "horrible sparks" falling on his shoulders. That might be because those cannons use real gunpowder. "I've seen Mal (Young) leap like he's been shot with a burning amber in the back of his T-shirt," Johnson told Q magazine. "He didn't stop playing, though."
For Those About To Rock was the third and final AC/DC album produced by Mutt Lange, who would later work with Def Leppard, Maroon 5 and Shania Twain. They rehearsed the album in a former factory outside of Paris and tried recording it at the EMI studios in the city. After two weeks of futile attempts, Lange and the band hired a mobile recording unit and went back to the rehearsal space to work on the album.
The video for this song was the first to get significant airplay on MTV, which launched a few months before the album was released. The video, directed by Derek Burbidge, was comprised of footage from two concerts at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland on AC/DC's For Those About To Rock tour.
Live videos typically don't play well on MTV, but this one had enough spectacle to surpass anything Rod Stewart or the other video stars were delivering. For many fans, it was their first look at AC/DC in action: a shirtless, shredding Angus Young; god shots of the formidable Brian Johnson; and of course, cannons. It left quite an impression on the early adopters of MTV, which were typically teenage boys.
Another live video with better production value was recorded in Detroit at a show in 1983. This one is now deemed the official video according to the band's Vevo site.
Michael from WisconsinI thought the title "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)" was inspired by the book (Angus read) "For About To Die" by Daniel Mannix. I read that book. If you want to know the depths of depravity in Rome, read it.
Eric from Camas, WaParts of this song are very similar in composition to "Who Are You" by The Who, which came out years earlier.
Andrew from Kilcoy, AustraliaThe original cannons used were smaller and had no wheels, they were just the barrel.
Austin from Bristow, VaRock and Roll's anthem, Rock on.
Joe from Norristown, Pai love this song! ACDC and pink floyd are my two favorite bands.
Luke from Manchester, EnglandComparing the Darkness to AC/DC isn't even fair. You might as well compare a tabby cat to a puma.
Andrew from Bartlett, Tni like the cannons it makes the song rock harder!
Selina from Perth, AustraliaMan this song has such good lyrics...legendary, historical stuff- the canons- like Malcolm said- they are instruments, makin good use of em... Aussie band but not Aussie-borns- only Phil is from Australia. Ang n Mal are from Glasgow,Scotland, Brian is from Newcastle, Bon is from Kirriemur,Scotland, by the way :) .
Tom from Seattle, WaThis was my very first concert. After tons since then it still remains one of the very best. The cannons were LOUD! This one was of the few shows that afterwards when I was walking to the car. my ears were ringing realy loud for about an hour.
Tom from East Lyme, CtNo, I meant the song the kids in School of Rock wrote, before they preformed "It's a long way?". The song the actually competed with sounds like "For those about to Rock".
Me from There, Njto tom two comments below me, the song the kids from school of rock play is It's a Long Way to the Top, by, well...AC/DC
Zach from Carlsbad, CaThis songs KICKS SO MUCH A$$! I am A pitcher and this is my intro song and it gets me PUMPED!!!
Tom from East Lyme, CtThis song that the kids of school of rock preform in their battle of the bands concert has some striking similarities to this song
Zack from Glendale, Azfor those about to rock we salute you has an excellent guitar in it i think ang and mal did good with this one as well as many others
Ian from Greenfield, Mathis is a good song and i love the guitar in it
Magnus from Mountville, PaThis goes out to "The Darkness Rock" in Austrailia. Whatta ya mean this songs not that good. This is an anthem to people who love rock and roll all over the world. I think your just bored with them. THIS SONG ROCKS Magnus in pennsylvania
Ac/dc_misfit from Millmerran, AustraliaThis song sounds nothing like the rest of the album. The rest of the album excluding "For Those About To Rock" and "Evil Walks" is really pop based. "For Those About To Rock" and "Evil Walks" are sorta hard. The album though is really awesome. It was there first US number one It was only a hit because of the success of Back In Black. if Back In Black wasn't successful this wouldn't have been.
Chase from Sedona, AzFor Those About To Rock (We Salute you) is by far one of the most meaningful songs in rock history, beside Back in black and Hell's bells and whatever else. AC/DC is coming out with another Album and there is no offcial date yet.
Bobina from Beverly Hills, CaI LOVE THIS SONG!! it's sooo awesome, and yea it's true AC/DC is Austrailian not American, i'm doing this band as a music project at my school, it's pretty awesome.
Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScThis song is cool, and ACDC is Australian not American. In fact, most of the guys were Scottish immigrants who moved to Australia as kids if I'm not mistaken. I know Malcolm and Angus did, and so did Bon Scot. I'm not sure about Bryan Johnson.
The Darkness Rock from Millmerran, AustraliaIt's not that good of a song. I'm ahuge AC/DC fan but I'm hooked on the Darkness now. But I still listen to AC/DC heaps. Stage wise this song is good though
Judge from Baltimore, Mdi had to register just to say that this "all american group" is from australia. hence the nickname "the thunder from down under". i hate to be picky, but it's the other side of the planet.
Beckie from Atwater, CaAC/DC is one of the best all-American groups ever. I love the movie "Maxamum Overdrive" where the whole soundtrack is AC/DC.
Josh from Las Vegas, NvEPIC. That's all there is to it. Funny that that's also they're record label
Ryan from Bentonville, Arthis is the song that inspired me and got me into acdc.
Dee from Indianapolis, InOne of the all time great anthem songs ever written. Of course AC/DC has a few, but this one crosses all barriers when you talk about rockin'. No one can do rock like these guys do. I can think of alot of great tunes by many a band, but when you think pure power rock without compromise, this is it. This is one for the ages that will never lose it's place in music history.
Kevin from Fallston, Mddan it was used in the super bowl XXXVIII commercisls
Alec from Sewell, NjWhat's so great about this song is that you can use it as a theme before almost any big event (of course mainly for those about to rock). It represents the sheer power and glory that defines AC/DC. It's just too bad that the other songs on the whole album aren't as well-recognized.
Brendan from Colts Neck, NjActually, Andrew, the legend goes that gladiators saluted Caesar before fighting to the death, saying "Those of us about to die, we salute you." Of course, because gladiators were so expensive to train, the phrase should really have gone something like "Those of us about to fight until we're both too tired to raise our arms, we salute you."
Andrew from Springfield, Mothey used to say" for those abou to die we salute you" to the Roman soldiers during the time of Caesar
Mike from Oliver, CanadaAndrew, isnt it 2005 it's coming out?
Joe D from Hamden, CtThe name was taken from a book Brian Johnson or Angus read that said "For those about to die, we salute you." For those about to rock sounded better though.
Dan from Olathe, KsHasn't it been used in NFL commercials?
Andrew from Bowmanville, CanadaAwesome song! A true classic! AC/DC is releasing a new album this year(2004) and doing a world tour.
Panther from Houston, TxThis is also currently the last song they play at concerts. If you see AC/DC in concert and they haven't brought the cannons out yet, don't leave - no matter how long it's been since they've left the stage. There's at least one more encore.
James from Atlanta , Gawas used to commemorate 9-11-01 attack on U.S. soil and as a staple to join up with United States military campain agianst terrorism