37 Years Ago, AC/DC Rises From The Ashes With The Iconic 'Back In Black' Album

July 25, 2017

On July 25th, 1980 AC/DC had experienced one of the most pivotal moments in their band's history with the release of their best-selling album Back In Black.

Earlier that year, lead singer Bon Scott died after drinking a lethal amount of alcohol, a loss that would ordinarily shatter any other band. Though the thought of ending the band for good did cross their minds, the guys of AC/DC decided to carry on and start the search for a new lead singer. They auditioned with Gary Pickford HopkinsStevie Wright of Easybeats, and Allan Fryer of Fat Lip. In an ironic twist of motivation, Geordie singer Brian Johnson wasn't immediately interested in filling Bon Scott's shoes. "Someone phoned up and asked me to join this thing, and I just said, 'Nah, I've been bitten before,'" said Johnson. "But then I got curious and thought, 'Well, what's the harm in trying out?' So I went down, sang with the boys and... Boing!"

Unlike most of the other candidates who practiced "Smoke On The Water" by Deep Purple with AC/DC, Johnson went down an entirely different route and sang "Nutbush City Limits" by Tina Turner, a move that impressed the band with his song choice. Following two additional auditions, Johnson finally signed a six-month deal to sing for AC/DC on April 8th, 1980, which would be later evaluated once the six months had passed.

They began recording Back In Black right away at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas. Johnson, who was not used to AC/DC's chaotic style recording, adapted quickly by penning the lyrics to songs written by Angus Young and Malcom Young. In no time, put six songs in the can, including the powerhouse title track "Back In Black." That all came to a screeching halt when they hit a case of writer's block when working on "Hell's Bells."

"Just then there was the mother of all thunderstorms," Johnson said in â€‹Louder Than Hell: the Definitive Oral History of Metal. "I said, 'Jesus, the noise of the thunder is coming in.' Mutt said, 'There you go, that's a start, Brian, the rolling thunder.' And I went, 'It's f**king pouring rain, look at the wind, it's coming' on like a hurricane. And look at that lightning flashing across the sky!' Honestly, I was like a reporter. There as an alarm bell ringing, so I went, 'Got my bell I'm gonna take you to hell. Gonna get ya, Satan get ya! Hell's bells.' That was it. It was ten minutes and the song was done."

Johnson would then proceed to dish out the lyrics to "Shoot to Thrill", "You Shook Me All Night Long", "Givin' the Dog a Bone", "Have a Drink on Me", and "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution."

Where Johnson deserves credit was his astonishing ability to write lyrics at an incredible rate, even when he was faced with a lack of inspiration. "There was hardly time to think," Johnson said. "I'd just go with one idea after another, and any time I got stuck the guys were really patient and supportive. I'd say, 'No, I just can't think of anything else. I can't do it.' And they'd go, 'Sure, you can. You're doing great. Just get some tea then keep going.' And somehow that always worked."

In memory of Scott, Back In Black's album art was just solid black with the band's name outlined in grey. 

Back In Black was such a huge success that it #1 in Australia, UK and France, and #4 in the US.

(source: Loudwire)