SLASH Looks Back On AC/DC's 'Back In Black': 'It Was A Killer Record From Start To Finish'
July 25, 2020
On Friday, July 24, Gibson celebrated 40 years of AC/DC's landmark album "Back In Black" with the "Back In Black 40th Anniversary: A Virtual Celebration" livestream event. Hosted by Jared James Nichols, the "Back In Black 40th Anniversary: A Virtual Celebration" featured AC/DC testimonials from a number of musicians, including GUNS N' ROSES guitarist Slash.
Speaking about the impact "Back In Black" had on his own musical upbringing, Slash said: "First time I ever heard it was at my friend's house. So this was 1980. And this was a crucial point in rock and roll at that time, because all my favorite bands had either disbanded or members had died. And there was a lot of new music, but nothing really turned me on that much. And AC/DC, I was familiar with 'Highway To Hell' and I was familiar with 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap', and I was into those two records. But I didn't know Bon Scott had died, I didn't know they had a new singer or any of that. And then all of a sudden 'Back In Black' came out, and it was like a battle cry for rock and roll and heavy metal at that time. It was a killer record from start to finish — every song was good. The single 'Back In Black' was as good a single as a rock and roll single gets. I think one of my favorite songs on the record was 'Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution'. And then, even to this day, one of my favorite guitar solos of all time is in 'Hells Bells'. So that particular record, it was pivotal for me. I just started playing guitar, and it was the first really great rock and roll band to come along in a little while. And, obviously, it was a big record for AC/DC and garnered them a place in history books that would go on forever and ever after that."
Last December, "Back in Black" was certified by the Recording Industry Association Of America for U.S. shipments of 25 million copies.
"Back in Black" first went platinum in October 1980 and had previously been certified 22 times platinum in December 2007. The RIAA lists "Back In Black" as the fourth biggest-selling album of all time.
On July 25, 1980, AC/DC released "Back In Black" in the U.S., followed by the album's U.K. release on July 31. It was the band's first album without lead singer Bon Scott, who had died a few months earlier after passing out and choking on his own vomit following a long night of drinking.
The group quickly decided to press on and hired Brian Johnson from the band GEORDIE to take over on vocals, and they headed to the Bahamas for about six weeks to do the album. AC/DC had made some serious headway in America before Scott's death, but no one knew how "Back In Black" would be received.
"Back In Black" included the singles "You Shook Me All Night Long", which peaked at No. 35 on the Billboard Hot 100, and "Back In Black", which peaked at No. 37.
Despite its massive success, it never got higher than No. 4 on the album charts. The band's next album, "For Those About To Rock", reached No. 1.
"Back In Black" was produced by Robert "Mutt" Lange, who went on to produce DEF LEPPARD, FOREIGNER, THE CARS, and BRYAN ADAMS.
In 2012, "Back In Black" was added to The Recording Academy's legendary Grammy Hall Of Fame collection.