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AC/DC are an Australian rock band, formed in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. A hard rock/blues rock band, they have also been considered a heavy metal band, although they have always dubbed their music simply "rock and roll".

AC/DC underwent several line-up changes before releasing their first album, High Voltage, in 1975. Membership subsequently stabilised until bassist Mark Evans was replaced by Cliff Williams in 1977 for the album Powerage. Within months of recording the 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 considered disbanding, but buoyed by support from Scott's parents, decided to continue and set about finding a new vocalist. Ex-Geordie singer Brian Johnson was auditioned and selected to replace Bon Scott. Later that year, the band released the new album, 

Back in Black, which was made as a tribute to Bon Scott. The album launched them to new heights of success and became their all-time best-seller.

The band's next album, For Those About to Rock We Salute You, was their first album to reach number one in the United States. Drummer Phil Rudd was fired in 1983 and replaced by ex-A II Z drummer Simon Wright, who left to join Dio in 1989. The band experienced a resurgence in the early 1990s with the release of The Razors Edge. Phil Rudd returned in 1994 after Chris Slade, who was with the band from 1989 to 1994, was asked to leave in favour of him, and contributed to the band's 1995 album BallbreakerStiff Upper Lip, released in 2000, was well received by critics. The band's studio album, 

Black Ice, released in 2008, was the second-highest-selling album of that year, and their biggest chart hit since For Those About to Rock, eventually reaching No.1 on all charts worldwide. The band's line-up remained the same until 2014 with Malcolm Young's retirement due to early-onset dementia and Rudd's legal troubles. In 2016, Johnson was advised to stop touring on account of worsening hearing loss and Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose stepped in as the band's vocalist for the remainder of that year's dates. Long-term bass player Cliff Williams retired from the band at the end of their 2016 Rock Or Bust world tour.

AC/DC have sold more than 200 million records worldwide, including 71.5 million albums in the United States, adding them to the, 

list of highest-certified music artists in the United States and the 

list of best-selling music artistsBack in Black has sold an estimated 50 million units worldwide, making it the second-highest-selling album by any artist – and the highest-selling album by any band. The album has sold 22 million units in the US, where it is the sixth-highest-selling album of all time. AC/DC ranked fourth on VH1's list of the "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock" and were named the seventh "Greatest Heavy Metal Band of All Time" by MTV. In 2004, AC/DC ranked No. 72 on the Rolling Stone list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". Producer Rick Rubin, who wrote an essay on the band for the Rolling Stone list, referred to AC/DC as "the greatest rock and roll band of all time". In 2010, AC/DC were ranked number 23 in the VH1 list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time".

Background and name

Brothers Malcolm, Angus, and George Young were born in Glasgow, Scotland, and moved to Sydney with most of their family in 1963. George was the first to learn to play the guitar. He became a member of The Easybeats, one of Australia's most successful bands of the 1960s. In 1966, they became the first local rock act to have an international hit, with the song 

"Friday on My Mind". Malcolm followed in George's footsteps by playing with a Newcastle, New South Wales, band called the Velvet Underground (not to be confused with the New York-based Velvet Underground). Their oldest brother Alex Young chose to remain in Britain to pursue musical interests. In 1967, Alexander formed and played bass in the London-based band Grapefruit—initially called "The Grapefruit"—with three former members of Tony Rivers and the Castaways, John Perry, Geoff Swettenham, and Pete Swettenham.

Malcolm and Angus Young developed the idea for the band's name after their sister, Margaret Young, saw the initials "AC/DC" on a sewing machine. "AC/DC" is an abbreviation meaning "alternating current/direct current" electricity. The brothers felt that this name symbolised the band's raw energy, power-driven performances of their music. "AC/DC" is pronounced one letter at a time, though the band are colloquially known as "Acca Dacca" in Australia. The AC/DC band name is stylised with a high voltage sign separating the "AC" and "DC" and has been used on all studio albums, with the exception of the international version of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.

Early years

In November 1973, Malcolm and Angus Young formed AC/DC and recruited bassist Larry Van Kriedt, vocalist Dave Evans, and Colin Burgess

ex-Masters Apprentices drummer. Pushing hard for the band's success were Australia's legendary roadie Ray Arnold and his partner Alan Kissack. Gene Pierson booked the band to play at Bondi Lifesaver on New Year's Eve, 1973.

By this time, Angus Young had adopted his characteristic school-uniform stage outfit. The idea was his sister Margaret's. Angus had tried other costumes: Spider-ManZorro, a gorilla, and a parody of Superman, named Super-Ang. In its early days, most members of the band dressed in some form of glam or satin outfit.

On stage, Evans was occasionally replaced by the band's first manager, Dennis Laughlin, who was the original lead singer with Sherbet prior to 

Daryl Braithwaite. Evans did not get along with Laughlin, which also contributed to the band's ill feeling toward Evans. By the middle of 1974, the band had built up a strong live reputation which led to a support slot for the visiting Lou Reed.

Some time in 1974, on the recommendation of Michael Chugg, veteran Melbourne promoter Michael Browning booked the band to play at his club the Hard Rock. Browning had previously managed Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, unsuccessfully trying to break them into the UK market. He did not like their glam rock image and felt that Evans was the wrong singer for the band, but was impressed by the Young brothers' guitar playing. Shortly afterwards, he received a call from the band; Laughlin had quit as manager, and they were stuck in Adelaide with no money. Browning agreed to bail them out and booked them for another gig at the Hard Rock. Following the gig, they agreed to take him on as their new manager, with the co-operation of their older brother George and Harry Vanda.

The Young brothers decided to abandon the glam rock image which had already been adopted by Melbourne band The Skyhooks and pursue a harder blues-rock sound. To this end they agreed that Evans was not a suitable frontman for the group. Around this time, they also moved their base to Melbourne, where they frequently played at the Hard Rock.

Bon Scott era (1974–1980)

Beginnings (1974–1975)

In September 1974, Ronald Belford "Bon" Scott, an experienced vocalist and friend of George Young, replaced Dave Evans after friend Vince Lovegrove  recommended him to George Young. Like the Young brothers, Scott had been born in Scotland before emigrating to Australia in his childhood. The band had recorded only one single with Evans, "Can I Sit Next To You, Girl" / "Rockin' in the Parlour"; eventually, the song was re-written and re-recorded with Bon Scott as "Can I Sit Next to You Girl" [Track 7 on the Australian album TNT (1975), and Track 6 on the international release of High Voltage (1976)].


By October 1974, the Australia-only album High Voltage had been recorded. It took only ten days and was based on instrumental songs written by the Young brothers, with lyrics added by Scott. Within a few months, the band's line-up had stabilised, featuring Scott, the Young brothers, bassist Mark Evans and drummer Phil Rudd. Later that year they released the single "It's a Long Way to the Top", for which a well-known promotional video was made for the program Countdown, featuring the band miming the song on the back of a flatbed truck. The song is regarded as their perennial rock anthem. It was included on their second album, TNT (1975), which was also released only in Australia and New Zealand. T.N.T. featured the song "High Voltage", which was the first song written and recorded for the album. Because "High Voltage" was released as a single before T.N.T. was released, some people thought it was the title track to AC/DC's debut album.

AC/DC were scheduled to play at the 1975 Sunbury music festival, however they went home without performing following an altercation with the management of headlining act Deep Purple.

Between 1974 and 1977, aided by regular appearances on Molly Meldrum's Countdown, the ABC's nationally broadcast pop-music television show, AC/DC became one of the most popular and successful acts in Australia. Their performance on 3 April 1977 was their last live TV appearance for more than 20 years.

International success (1976–1980)

Browning sent promo material to contacts in London, which came to the attention of Atlantic RecordsPhil Carson. In 1976, the band signed an international deal with Atlantic Records. On arrival in London, their scheduled tour with Back Street Crawler was cancelled following the death of 

Paul Kossoff. As a result, they went back to playing smaller venues to build a local following until their label organized the "Lock Up Your Daughters" tour sponsored by Sounds magazine, the only major music magazine which was still relatively receptive to traditional rock music. At the time, punk rock was breaking out in London and came to dominate the pages of the major music weeklies, NME and Melody Maker. AC/DC were sometimes identified with the punk rock movement by the British press, however in reality they hated punk rock, believing it to be a passing fad - according to manager Michael Browning "it wasn't possible to even hold a conversation with AC/DC about punk without them getting totally pissed off". Their reputation, however, managed to survive the punk upheavals of the late 1970s, and they maintained a cult following in the UK throughout this time. Angus Young gained notoriety for mooning the audience during live performances.

The first AC/DC album to gain worldwide distribution was a 1976 compilation of tracks taken from the High Voltage and T.N.T. LPs. Also titled 

High Voltage, and released on the Atlantic Records label, the album has to date sold three million copies worldwide. The track selection was heavily weighted toward the more recent T.N.T., and included only two songs from their first LP. The band's next album, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, was released in the same year in both Australian and international versions, like its predecessor. Track listings varied worldwide, and the international version of the album also featured the T.N.T. track "Rocker", which had previously never been released internationally. The original Australian version included "Jailbreak" (now more readily available on the 1984 compilation 

EP '74 Jailbreak or as a live version on the 1992 Live album). Dirty Deeds was not released in the US until 1981, by which time the band were at the peak of their popularity.

After a brief tour of Sweden, they returned to London where they set new attendance records during their residency at the Marquee. However, their appearance at the 1976 Reading Festival failed to get a response from the crowd. They toured extensively throughout Europe, then returned to tour Australia in late 1976 to rebuild their finances and record the Let There Be Rock album.

In early 1977 they returned to Britain and began a European tour with 

Black Sabbath. While Bon Scott and Ozzy Osbourne quickly became friends, relations were less than cordial between the other members of the respective bands. In one incident, Geezer Butler pulled a knife on Malcolm Young. Later in the year they toured with Rainbow.

Towards the end of 1977, bassist Mark Evans was fired; purportedly to find someone who could sing backup vocals. Evans described disagreement with Angus and Malcolm as a contributing factor. He was replaced by Cliff Williams. Neither of the Young brothers has elaborated on the departure of Evans, though Richard Griffiths, the CEO of Epic Records and a booking agent for AC/DC in the mid-1970s, later commented, "You knew Mark wasn't going to last, he was just too much of a nice guy." Mark Evans' autobiography, DIRTY DEEDS: My Life Inside/Outside of AC/DC, released in 2011, predominantly dealt with his time in AC/DC, including being fired.

AC/DC were a somewhat formative influence on new wave of British heavy metal bands who emerged in the late 1970s, such as Saxon and Iron Maiden, in part as a reaction to the decline of traditional early 1970s hard rock bands. In 2007, critics noted that AC/DC, along with Thin LizzyUFOScorpions  and Judas Priest, were among "the second generation of rising stars ready to step into the breach as the old guard waned."

AC/DC's first American exposure was through the Michigan radio station AM 600 WTAC in 1977. The station's manager, Peter C. Cavanaugh, booked the band to play at Flint's Capitol Theater. The supporting act was MC5, who had just briefly reunited and agreed to play at the event. The band opened with their popular song "Live Wire" and closed with "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)". They gained invaluable experience of the stadium circuit, supporting leading rock acts such as AerosmithKissStyxUFO, and Blue Öyster Cult, and co-headlined with Cheap Trick.


The 1978 release of 
Powerage marked the debut of bassist Cliff Williams, and with its harder riffs, followed the blueprint set by Let There Be Rock. Only one single was released from Powerage, "Rock 'n' Roll Damnation/Sin City". An appearance at the Apollo Theatre, Glasgow during the Powerage tour was recorded and released as If You Want Blood You've Got It, featuring such songs as "Whole Lotta Rosie", "Problem Child", and "Let There Be Rock", as well as lesser-known album tracks like "Riff Raff". Powerage was the last album produced by Harry Vanda and George Young that had lead vocals by 

Bon Scott, and is claimed to be AC/DC's most under-rated album.

The major breakthrough in the band's career came in their collaboration with producer "Mutt" Lange on the album Highway to Hell, released in 1979. 

Eddie Van Halen notes this to be his favourite AC/DC record, along with Powerage. It became the first AC/DC LP to break into the US top 100, eventually reaching No. 17, and it propelled AC/DC into the top ranks of hard rock acts. Highway to Hell had lyrics that shifted away from flippant and comical toward more central rock themes, putting increased emphasis on backing vocals but still featured AC/DC's signature sound: loud, simple, pounding riffs and grooving backbeats. The final track, "Night Prowler", has two breaths in quick succession at the start of the song, intended to create a tone of fear and loathing. 

Bon Scott's death (1980)

As 1980 began, the band began work on a new album that would eventually become Back in Black, but Bon Scott would not live to see it finished. On 19 February 1980, Scott passed out in the car on the way back to friend Alistair Kinnear's house after a night of heavy drinking at the Music Machine club in London. Upon arrival at his home, Kinnear was unable to move Scott from the car into his home for the night, so he left him in the car overnight to sleep off the effects of the alcohol. Unable to wake Scott late the next morning, Kinnear rushed him to King's College Hospital in Camberwell, where Scott was pronounced dead on arrival. Pulmonary aspiration of vomit was the cause of Scott's death, and the official cause was listed as "acute alcohol poisoning". Scott's family buried him in Fremantle, Western Australia, the area they emigrated to when he was a boy.

Inconsistencies in the official accounts of Scott's death have been cited in conspiracy theories, which suggest that Scott died of a heroin overdose, or was killed by exhaust fumes redirected into the car, or that Kinnear did not exist. Additionally, Scott was asthmatic  and the temperature was below freezing on the morning of his death.

Brian Johnson era (1980–2016)

Rebirth (1980–1983)

Following Scott's death the band briefly considered quitting, but encouraged by the insistence from Scott's parents that he would have wanted them to go on, they eventually decided to continue and went about finding a new frontman. Various candidates were considered for his replacement, including: Buzz Shearman, ex-Moxy member, who was not able to join because of voice problems, ex-Back Street Crawler vocalist Terry Slesser and then Slade vocalist, Noddy Holder. The remaining AC/DC members finally decided on ex-Geordie singer Brian Johnson.

Angus Young later recalled, "I remember the first time I had ever heard Brian's (Johnson) name was from Bon. Bon had mentioned that he had been in England once touring with a band and he had mentioned that Brian had been in a band called Geordie and Bon had said 'Brian Johnson, he was a great rock and roll singer in the style of Little Richard.' And that was Bon's big idol, Little Richard. I think when he saw Brian at that time, to Bon it was 'Well he's a guy that knows what rock and roll is all about.' He mentioned that to us in Australia. I suppose when we decided to continue, Brian was the first name that Malcolm and myself came up with, so we said we should see if we can find him."

For the audition, Johnson sang "Whole Lotta Rosie" from Let There Be Rock  and Ike & Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits". He was hired a few days after the audition. With Johnson the band completed the songwriting that they had begun with Scott for the album Back in Black. Recording took place at 

Compass Point Studios in The Bahamas a few months after Scott's death. Back in Black, produced by Mutt Lange and recorded by Tony Platt, became their biggest-selling album and a hard-rock landmark; hits include "Hells Bells", "You Shook Me All Night Long", "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution" and the title track. The album reached No.1 in the UK and No.4 in the US, where it spent 131 weeks on the Billboard 200 album chart.

The follow-up album, 1981's For Those About to Rock We Salute You, also sold well and was positively received by critics. The album featured two of the band's most popular singles: "Let's Get It Up" and the title track, 

"For Those About to Rock", which reached No.13 and No.15 in the UK, respectively. The band split with Lange for their self-produced 1983 album, Flick of the Switch, in an effort to recover the rawness and simplicity of their early albums.

Departure of Phil Rudd and commercial decline (1983–1987)

After having problems with drugs and alcohol, drummer Phil Rudd's friendship with Malcolm Young deteriorated and eventually escalated to a physical confrontation after which Rudd was fired. Former Procol Harum drummer 

B.J. Wilson was drafted in to help complete the recordings, but his drum parts were eventually not used, as Rudd had already completed his drum parts. Rudd was replaced by Simon Wright in the summer of 1983 after the band held over 700 auditions in the US and UK. Simon Kirke of Free and Bad Company fame, and Paul Thompson of Roxy Music were two of the drummers auditioned.

Later in the year, AC/DC released the self-produced album 

Flick of the Switch, which was less successful than their previous albums, and was considered underdeveloped and unmemorable. One critic stated that the band "had made the same album nine times". AC/DC were voted the eighth-biggest disappointment of the year in the 1984 Kerrang! readers' poll. However, Flick of the Switch eventually reached No.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; 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.  

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