Night Prowler

Album: Highway To Hell (1979)


  • This six-and-a-half minute blues-influenced song closes out the Highway To Hell album. It has a very different energy than most AC/DC songs, but the band was very much influenced by the blues, and this track gave Bon Scott a good showcase for his howling delivery. The Rolling Stones recorded a similarly sinister song a decade earlier with "Midnight Rambler."
  • AC/DC picked up an unsavory association with the California serial killer Richard Ramirez after Ramirez talked about how he loved the band and Highway To Hell was his favorite album. The link between Ramirez and this song was mostly a media creation, however. His killing spree took place in 1985, and in 1989 Ramirez was convicted of 13 murders. Around the Los Angeles area, Ramirez would typically sneak into houses at night and rape or murder the occupants. Neighborhoods were on high alert, and the media referred to him as the "Midnight Stalker" or "Night Stalker."

    Before he was captured, one of Ramirez' AC/DC hats was discovered and put on the news as evidence. When the stories came out about how much Ramirez loved the band, AC/DC became unfortunately linked to the killer, and it was rumored that the song "Night Prowler" compelled him to kill. The song describes a man sneaking into a woman's house ("As you lie there naked like a body in a tomb, suspended animation as I slip into your room"), and although there is no evidence that the song was a specific influence on Ramirez, there were eerie similarities between the lyric and the crimes. The band was horrified by the association, and explained that the song was about a guy sneaking into his girlfriend's bedroom at night for innocent sex. Malcolm Young said it was "just about creeping around at night on a couple of old girlfriends and doing the business." A disingenuous explanation, since the lyrics are a lot darker: "You don't feel the steel 'til it's hanging out your back."

    Ramirez was fascinated with Satan, but AC/DC was not: rumors were that the band name stands for "Anti-Christ Devil's Children," but it was actually something seen on the back of a sewing machine that they thought would make an interesting name. The band was tagged with the controversy, but it certainly didn't hurt - Ramirez was captured three days before AC/DC's tour started in 1985, and ticket sales wildly exceeded expectations and new dates were added.
  • This was one of the last songs Bon Scott recorded before he died (his last was a cover of an earlier AC/DC song called "Ride On," recorded February 10, 1980 with the French rock band Trust). It also happened to be the last song on his last album, Highway to Hell. He was a fan of Robin Williams, and ends the song with Williams' famous catch phrase 'Shazbot, Nanu Nanu!' Which is what the character 'Mork' from Mork And Mindy used to end transmissions to his home planet with. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Joe - Kalamazoo, MI
  • The Highway To Hell album was produced by Mutt Lange, but the first recordings for the album were made with Eddie Kramer, known for his work with Kiss, producing. The work with Kramer didn't pan out, so at the suggestion of the band's manager Michael Browning, they went with the 30-year-old Lange, who clicked with the band. Lange went on to work with Def Leppard and marry Shania Twain; their union lasted from 1993-2008.

Comments: 32

  • Hockeymask from AustraliaAcdc wrote lots of dark songs _Jailbreak eg. but just like any artist this doesn't mean they encourage it. Bram Stoker wasn't a vampire and Mary Shelley wasn't a monster.Stephen King created lots of dark stuff too. Same with music.
  • Nyguy48 from Long Island, NyI believe Ramirez was originally called the night prowler but then the press rushed to change it to cover for AC/DC. Very cowardly. The band wrote and sang a violent song and didn’t own up to it .
  • Nevaeh from UsI seriously doubt that song is about a dude sneaking into a girlfriends room lol But I don’t blame them for saying that it’s those people’s fault for saying that dude killed people because of it. He had the urge to kill because he’s f--ked up in the head, so if anything this song only made him feel better about doing what he was ALREADY gonna do. But he would’ve still killed if he never listened to AC/DC.
  • Philip from Highland InAlways one of my favorites. But please... "you dont feel the steel til its hanging out your back" and this is a song about banging a girl? I can see why they did not own up to the fact of what the song was about. With idiots filing lawsuits. Like the one against Judas Priest. But still. Are they responsible for some psycho actions? That would be like the Beatles being responsible for Manson.
  • Richard from SeattleTo Eric in AZ -- not sure what was going on in Costa Mesa in 1985, but I saw AC/DC in 81, 83, 85, 89, 90, 91, an a couple times since. AC/DC always has festival seating right up until 1991 and they had that terrible tragedy of three kids getting crushed in Salt Lake City. I remember seeing them in Tacoma at the beginning of the tour (it was the day we started the first gulf war), and then like a full year later they came back; this time to Seattle. In between was the horrible tragedy and suddenly every show they did after that was reserved seating.

    Its too bad they had reserved seating in costa mesa in 85, because prior to 1991, I could always barge my way right up to the front. That was the funnest part of the show...
  • Eric from AzMy buddy and I had 3rd row tickets for AC/DC, at the Pacific Amphetheatre (Costa Mesa, CA), in 1985, but the show was cancelled that day, due to the whole Richard Ramirez thing, so ticket sales were influenced, at least for that one concert.
    Fortunately, we got 3rd row tickets for AC/DC at Irvine Meadows, the very next year. Was worth the wait!
  • Janeen Skokani from DearbornThe issue I have is when they try and pin Satanism on rock or heavy metal. I myself am a fan of the band Venom, and to this day, my relatives are afraid of them. They're like "they're satanists." I'm like "no. They're black metal. It's an act."

    As for ACDC, if you think they're satanic or just no. Don't even attempt to criticize the world's best band.
  • Zero from Nowhere, NjThis song is in standard E Flat tuning, while all other songs on H2H are in in E but a quarter-step down.
  • Joshua from Kankakee, Ili didnt here this song till about two days ago but i thought it kicked butt
  • Usctrojans from Chicago, IlI love how they claim this is a song about a guy sneaking in to his girlfriend's room at night. "You don't feel the steel 'til it's hanging out your back.." Really..sneaking in to your girlfriend's room? It's not their fault Richard Ramirez was a nutjob.
  • Eric from Camas, WaOne look at the lyrics proves that this ain't a song about sneaking in to make love with your girlfriend.
  • Dane from Lima,ohio, FlWhat a cool song.An AC/DC fave.It's a slow blues which I love.It also has some pretty decent harmonies,not something they're known for.
  • Luke from Dayton, OhAC/DC is some kind of electrical term, definitly not 'Anti Christ Devil Children.'
  • Kerstin from Lakewood, WaOK let's just staighten it all out guys are making my head spin!
    AC/DC means "alternating current/direct current"
    And now for the next fact...the answer came right from Agus Young himself...His older sister came up with the name for the band and she got the from the AC/DC symbol she saw on the side of the "sewing machine"! And last but not least, having studied serial killers for over 15 year! and yes Richard Ramirez was one of them and I can tell you NO NO NO AC/DC did NOT inspire him to kill!Just like most serial killers it is something VERY twisted inside THEM!
    I hope I've help you guys and you can stop spinning in circles!
  • Anonymous"Night Prowler is an awesome song. Especially the guitars. My cousin and I used to play this. He would play the lead and I would play the rhythm. However the song fact by Joe-Kalamazoo, MI is wrong. "Ride On" is on the album Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, which was original released in September 1976 in Australia. It was released in Europe in December 1976, but wasn't released in the US until April 1981 after Bon had died.
  • Austin from Bristow, VaScary, yet funny. Reminds me of Scooby Doo. That Robin Williams reference is priceless.
  • Bess from San Diego, CaMy mom got a kick out of the "Shazbot, Nanu Nanu" at the end of this song. I doubt she'd ever heard it before. She also started laughing when my sister and I were singing along to "Back in Black" . . . In the crowd she was with in the 80's, apparently, AC/DC was associated with low-lives. A band doesn't have to be sophisticated and play songs with deep meanings to be TOTALLY FREAKIN' AWESOME!!! (That's mostly to my dad, the one with about a million classical CD's stored around the house. "Why don't you listen to the music you play on the piano?" 'Cause it's boring and they didn't have electric guitars back then! I refuse to listen to Chopin voluntarily.)
  • Mark from Byrdstown, TnVery cool song from the "Highway to Hell" album.Menacing and scary even ...something all great rock should be.I always hated the 'Nanu Nanu' at the end,however,it ruined an other wise cool rock song by making me think of a guy I detest ,Robin Williams.
  • Selina from Perth, AustraliaOh yeah, was talkin abou the name by the way... And Mal said that the song is just about sneaking in to a couple of old girlfriend's bedrooms n having sex with them
  • Selina from Perth, AustraliaNight Prowler is such a cool imaginative song... It's got that creepy chill about it but also with a hint of's great and it lets your mind wander...even though it lead that serial killer guy to do what he did.
    And yeah I read somewhere that it was actually George's wife, Ang n Mal's sister in law, who's name was also Margeret, who had seen it on the back of a sewing machine, as it was either her or their actual sister, Margaret, who were in charge of their onstage costumes. But either way, it still has the same High Voltage meaning and power, and they played in gay bars, they'd play anywher, any gig, more fans ey
  • Joel from Lawrence, KsI don't care how the band got their name. They are awesome. I always thought that "Night Prowler" was about a vampire or werewolf.
  • David from Taylors Falls, Mnwhen Black Sabbath and AC/DC were touring together, the bassist from Sabbath pulled a knife on Malcolm. The cool thing is, Malcolm kicked his ass.
  • Chris from Walnut Creek, Caas much as i love this song, i love the version Lucid Nation does. People are critical against the lucid nation version because a woman is singing. But the reason why Tamra Spivey chose to sing the song is because she uses this song as a revenge song after being raped at the age of 16.
  • Andrew from Marietta, GaInteresting story bout the whole AC/DC bisexual thing. One day Bon was in a bathroom, and a guy asked him whether he was AC or DC. Bon turned to him and said "I'm the lightning bolt down the middle!' Then he punched him out.
  • John Dough from Toronto, CanadaActually, the fact saying that Night Prowler was Bon's last take is wrong. Bon's last take was a cover of an earlier AC/DC song, Ride On, recorded on February 10, 1980, with the French rock band Trust, it was never released officialy.
  • Josh from Las Vegas, NvI've heard both vacuum cleaner and sewing machine before, but after that I'm leaning more toward sewing machine. The whole AC/DC standing for bisexual started around the time gay pride surfaced, which i heard was in the early eighties, so that didn't influence them to play at gay bars. They were just willing to play anywhere.
  • Danielle from Swanton, OhIt was their sister Margaret who saw it on a sewing machine. She is the one that made all of Angus's school boy uniforms in the beginning as I do believe it was her idea. And yes someone informed the band that the term AC/DC is slang for bisexuality and that is why AC/DC played in gay bars when they were first starting out. I'm not entirely sure whether or not it was a cab driver however, and no Laura they did not almost beat him up.. cool down your imagination.
  • Laura from New York, NyI don't know about the sister or how they originally thought of it, but I heard a story (probably a total legend, but amusing anyway) that they were discussing their newly decided name in a cab, and the cab driver was like "Uhh, you guys do realize that means bisexual, right?" And they almost beat him up, and then were like, "Wait, it does? Dangit!" But obviously decided to keep it anyway. Like Alex said, it also means alternating current/direct current, but as I was exposed to it as meaning bisexual before I knew the band, I always thought it was kind of amusing. (sorry for the horrible paraphrasing of that story!)
  • Alec from Sewell, NjActually, I believe one of their sisters saw it on a vacuum cleaner. It of course stands for "Alternating Current / Direct Current", which you could translate as "high voltage". So it makes sense. Great song, "Night Prowler", it's one of those songs that grew on me after a while.
  • Jesse from Tampa, FlI saw behind the music and there name came from the ac dc adapter on a sewing machine so why they think it is related i dont know.
  • Sam from Cleveland, OhWhy does HelterSkelter and Piggies by the Beatles get such a bad rap when AC/DC stuff went through the same thing?
  • Mitch from Winnipeg, CanadaI always think of this song when I'm walking somewhere unpopulated and spooky at night in the city.
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