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AC/DC are an Australian Rock N Roll band formed in Sydney in 1973 by brothers Angus and Malcolm Young. Although the band are considered pioneers of heavy metal, its members have always classified their music as "rock 'n' roll".
AC/DC underwent several line-up changes before releasing their first album, High Voltage, in 1975. Membership remained stable until bassist Cliff Williams replaced Mark Evans in 1977. In 1979, the band recorded their highly successful album Highway to Hell. Lead singer and co-songwriter Bon Scott died on 19 February 1980, after a night of heavy alcohol consumption. The group briefly considered disbanding, but soon ex-Geordie singer Brian Johnson was selected as Scott's replacement. Later that year, the band released their best-selling album, Back in Black.
The band's next album, For Those About to Rock We Salute You, was also highly successful and was their first album to reach number one in the United States. AC/DC declined in popularity soon after the departure of drummer Phil Rudd in 1983. Poor record sales continued until the release of The Razors Edge in 1990. Phil Rudd returned in 1994 and contributed to the band's 1995 album Ballbreaker. Stiff Upper Lip was released in 2000 and was well-received by critics. The band's new album Black Ice was announced in June 2008 and was released on 20 October 2008.
AC/DC have sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, including 69 million albums in the United States. Back in Black has sold an estimated 42 million units worldwide and 22 million in the United States alone, making it the fifth highest-selling album ever in the United States. AC/DC ranked fourth on VH1's list of the "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock" and the seventh "Greatest Heavy Metal Band Of All Time" by MTV. In 2004, the band was ranked number 8 in the Rolling Stone list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
|"Back in Black's riff is one of the most recognised in hard rock history. The song ranked #187 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and reached #37 in the US|
|For Those About to Rock received criticism for clichéd lyrics, slower tempos, and an arena rock sound. However, it was one of the band's biggest hits, reaching #13 on the UK charts and #44 in the US|
Amid rumours of alcoholism and drug-induced paranoia, drummer Phil Rudd's friendship with Malcolm Young deteriorated and, after a long period of unfriendliness, the men's dislike for each other grew so strong that they fought. Rudd was fired two hours after the fight. Although Rudd had finished most of the drum tracks for their next album, he was replaced by Simon Wright after the band held an anonymous audition.
With the new line-up, the band released a less successful album, the self-produced Flick of the Switch, which was considered underdeveloped and unmemorable. One critic stated that the band "had made the same album nine times". AC/DC was voted the eighth-biggest disappointment of the year in the 1984 Kerrang! readers' poll. However, Flick of the Switch eventually reached #4 on the UK charts, and AC/DC had minor success with the singles "Nervous Shakedown" and "Flick of the Switch". Fly on the Wall, produced by the Young brothers in 1985, was also regarded as uninspired and directionless. A music concept video of the same name featured the band at a bar, playing five of the album's ten songs.
In 1986, the group returned to the charts with the made-for-radio "Who Made Who". The album Who Made Who was the soundtrack to Stephen King's film Maximum Overdrive, and is the closest the band has come to releasing a "greatest hits" collection, which AC/DC has always refused to do. It brought together older hits, such as "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "Ride On", with newer songs such as title track "Who Made Who", and two new instrumentals, "D.T." and "Chase the Ace".
In February 1988, AC/DC were inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association's Hall of Fame.Renewed popularity: 1987–2000
AC/DC's 1988 album, Blow Up Your Video, was recorded at Miraval Studio in Le Val, France, and reunited the band with their original producers, Harry Vanda and George Young. The group recorded nineteen songs, choosing ten for the final release; though the album was later criticised for containing excessive "filler", it was a commercial success. Blow Up Your Video sold more copies than the previous two studio releases combined, and reached #2 on the UK charts—AC/DC's highest position since "Back in Black" in 1980. The album featured the UK top-twenty single "Heatseeker", and popular songs such as "That's the Way I Wanna Rock and Roll". The Blow Up Your Video World Tour began in February 1988, in Perth, Australia. That April, following live appearances across Europe, Malcolm Young announced that he was taking time off from touring, principally to begin recovery from his alcoholism. Another member of the Young family, Stevie Young, temporarily took Malcolm's place.Audio samples:
|"Big Gun" was recorded for the soundtrack of the movie Last Action Hero and was produced by Rick Rubin, giving AC/DC the characteristic hard rock sound with harder riffs than the last albums. It reached #65 in the US and was the first AC/DC single to reach #1 in the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks.|
|The title track of their last studio album, Stiff Upper Lip, sounds simpler than the previous tracks, in part because of the work of producer George Young.|
Following the tour, Wright left the group to work on the upcoming Dio album Lock Up the Wolves, and was replaced by session veteran Chris Slade. Johnson was unavailable for several months while finalising his divorce, so the Young brothers wrote all the songs for the next album, a practice they continued for all subsequent releases until Black Ice in 2008. The new album, The Razors Edge, was recorded in Vancouver, Canada and produced by Bruce Fairbairn, who had previously worked with Aerosmith and Bon Jovi. Released in 1990, it was a major comeback for the band, and included the hits "Thunderstruck" and "Are You Ready", which reached #5 and #16 respectively on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart, and "Moneytalks", which peaked at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album went multi-platinum and reached the US top ten. Several shows on the Razors Edge tour were recorded for the 1992 live album, titled Live. Live was produced by Fairbairn, and is considered one of the best live albums of the 1990s. A year later, AC/DC recorded "Big Gun" for the soundtrack of the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Last Action Hero, and was released as a single, reaching #1 on the US Mainstream Rock chart, the band's first #1 single on that chart.
In 1994, Angus and Malcolm invited Rudd to several jam sessions. He was eventually rehired to replace Slade, whose amicable departure arose in part due to the band's strong desire to again work with Rudd. In 1995, with the 1980-83 line-up back together, the group released Ballbreaker, recorded at the Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles, California, and produced by Rick Rubin. The first single from the album was "Hard as a Rock". Two more singles were released from the album: "Hail Caesar" and "Cover You in Oil".
In 1997, a box set named Bonfire was released. It contained four albums; a remastered version of Back in Black; Volts (a disc with alternate takes, outtakes, and stray live cuts) and two live albums, Live from the Atlantic Studios and Let There Be Rock: The Movie. Live from the Atlantic Studios was recorded on 7 December 1977 at the Atlantic Studios in New York. Let There Be Rock: The Movie was a double album recorded in 1979 at The Pavillon in Paris, and was the soundtrack of a motion picture, AC/DC: Let There Be Rock. The US version of the box set included a colour booklet, a two-sided poster, a sticker, a temporary tattoo, a keychain bottle opener, and a guitar pick.Recent events: 2000–2008
In 2000, the band released their fourteenth studio album, Stiff Upper Lip, produced by brother George Young at the Warehouse Studio, again in Vancouver. The album was better received by critics than Ballbreaker, but was considered lacking in new ideas. The Australian release included a bonus disc with three promotional videos and several live performances recorded in Madrid in 1996. Stiff Upper Lip reached #1 in five countries, including Argentina and Germany; #2 in three countries, Spain, France and Switzerland; #3 in Australia; #5 in Canada and Portugal; and #7 in Norway, the US and Hungary. The first single, "Stiff Upper Lip", remained at #1 on the US Mainstream Rock charts for four weeks. The other singles released also did very well; "Satellite Blues" and "Safe in New York City" reached #7 and #31 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks, respectively.
In 2002, AC/DC signed a long-term, multi-album deal with Sony Music, who went on to release a series of remastered albums as part of their AC/DC remasters series. Each release contained an expanded booklet, featuring rare photographs, memorabilia, and notes. In 2003, the entire back-catalogue (except Ballbreaker and Stiff Upper Lip) was remastered and re-released. Ballbreaker was eventually re-released in October 2005; Stiff Upper Lip was later rereleased in April 2007.
On 30 July 2003 the band performed with The Rolling Stones and Rush at Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto. The concert, held before an audience of half a million, was intended to help the city overcome the negative publicity stemming from the effects of a 2003 SARS epidemic. The concert holds the record for the largest paid music event in North American history. The band came second in a list of Australia's highest-earning entertainers for 2005, and sixth for 2006, despite having neither toured since 2003 nor released an album since 2000. Verizon Wireless has gained the rights to release AC/DC's full albums and the entire Live at Donington concert to download in 2008.
On 16 October 2007, Columbia Records released a double and triple DVD titled Plug Me In. The set consists of 5 and 7 hours of rare footage, and even a recording of AC/DC at a high school performing "School Days", "T.N.T.", "She's Got Balls", and "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)". As with Family Jewels, disc one contains rare shows of the band with Bon Scott, and disc two is about the Brian Johnson era. The collector's edition contains an extra DVD with 21 more rare performances of both Scott and Johnson and more interviews.
AC/DC made their video game debut on Rock Band 2, with "Let There Be Rock" included as a playable track. It has been confirmed that the setlist from their Live at Donington live album will be released as playable songs for the Rock Band series by means of a retail disc titled AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack.
No Bull: The Directors Cut, a newly edited, comprehensive Blu-Ray and DVD of the band's July 1996 Plaza De Toros de las Ventas concert in Madrid, Spain, was released on 9 September 2008.
On 18 August 2008, Columbia Records announced the 18 October Australian release, and 20 October worldwide release, of AC/DC's sixteenth studio album Black Ice. The 15-track album is the band's first studio release in eight years, and was produced by Brendan O'Brien. Like Stiff Upper Lip, it was recorded at the Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, British Columbia. Black Ice will be sold in the US exclusively at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club and the band's official website.
"Rock 'n' Roll Train", the album's first single, was released to radio on 28 August. On 15 August, AC/DC recorded a video for a song from the new album in London with a special selection of fans getting the chance to be in the video. The video premiered on AC/DC.com on 18 September 2008. AC/DC are set to kick off their first world tour since 2001 in late October 2008. The single is now the background music to the band's website.
The 18 month Black Ice World Tour supporting the new album was announced on September 11 and will begin on October 28 in Wilkes-Barre, PA. They have announced 42 dates in North America between October and end in Nashville, TN on January 31, 2009. Dates for South America, Australia, Europe and Asia are expected to be announced later this year.
On 15 September 2008, AC/DC Radio debuted on Sirius channel 29 and XM channel 53. The exclusive 24/7, limited engagement channel plays classics like “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Back in Black”, preview tracks from their upcoming release, Black Ice, and feature exclusive interviews with the band members, who share their personal insights into their music and careers, spanning more than 30 years.
The first 10 tracks were played on radio station network Triple M in Australia 9 pm Monday 13th and again at 1 pm on Tuesday. Those tracks can now be previewed along with interviews with Angus and Brian on the Tripple M website
With the North American release of Black Ice on October 20th 2008, Columbia Records and Walmart created "Rock Again AC/DC Stores" with the album Black Ice holding centre stage. It was the first time in the history of Walmart that such a large area of floor space was designated to celebrate the release of a new album. In October 2008 MTV along with Wal Mart and Columbia Records created "AC/DC Rock Band Stores" in New York's Times Square and in Los Angeles. "Black Ice" trucks were also dispatched on the streets of New York City and in Los Angeles after the release of Black Ice, playing AC/DC music aloud and making various stops each day.Recognition
AC/DC were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2003. During the ceremony the band performed "Highway to Hell" and "You Shook Me All Night Long", with guest vocals provided by host Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. He described the band's power chords as "the thunder from down under that gives you the second-most-powerful surge that can flow through your body." During the acceptance speech, Brian Johnson quoted their 1977 song "Let There Be Rock".
In May 2003, Malcolm Young accepted a Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Service to Australian Music at the 2003 Music Winners Awards, during which he paid special tribute to Bon Scott.
On 1 October 2004, a central Melbourne thoroughfare, Corporation Lane, was renamed in honour of the band. However, the City of Melbourne forbade the use of the slash character in street names, so the four letters were combined. The lane is near Swanston Street where, on the back of a truck, the band recorded their video for the 1975 hit "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)". Additionally, a street in Leganés (Comunidad de Madrid), Spain was named "Calle de AC/DC" on 2 March 2000.
In 2005, the Recording Industry Association of America upgraded the group's US sales figures from 63 million to 69 million, making AC/DC the fifth-best-selling band in US history and the tenth best selling artist, selling more albums than Madonna, Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson. The RIAA also certified Back in Black as double Diamond (twenty million) in US sales, and by 2007 the album had sold 22 million copies, which moved it into fifth place.