Years: November 1973 - present
Styles: Blues Rock, Glam Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Malcolm Young - Backing vocals, Bass Guitar, Lead guitar, Rhythm guitar (in band: 1973 - 2014)
Angus Young - Backing vocals, Lead guitar, Rhythm guitar (in band: 1973 - present)
Dave Evans - Lead vocals (in band: 1973 - 1974)
Larry van Kriedt - Bass Guitar (in band: 1973 - 1974; 1975)
Rob Bailey - Bass Guitar (in band: 1974 - 1975)
Bon Scott - Bagpipes, Lead vocals (in band: 1974 - 1980)
Mark Evans - Bass Guitar (in band: 1975 - 1977)
Phil Rudd - Drums, Percussion (in band: 1975 – 1983; 1994 – 2015)
Cliff Williams - Backing vocals, Bass Guitar (in band: 1977 – 2016)
Brian Johnson - Backing vocals, Lead vocals (in band: 1980 - 2016)
Simon Wright - Drums, Percussion (in band: 1983 - 1989)
Stevie Young - Backing vocals, Rhythm guitar (in band: 1988; 2014 – present)
Chris Slade - Drums, Percussion (in band: 1989 – 1994; 2015 – present)
Axl Rose - Lead vocals (in band: 2016 – present)
Peter Clack - Drums (in band: April 1974 - January 1975)
Colin Burgess - Drums (in band: November 1973 – February 1974; September 1975)
AC/DC are an Australian hard rock band, formed in Sydney 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 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 Ballbreaker. Stiff 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 artists. Back 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".
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 was born in Scotland and emigrated 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.
Browning sent promo material to contacts in London, which came to the attention of Phil Carson of Atlantic Records. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Wrightin 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".
AC/DC's 1988 album, Blow Up Your Video, was recorded at Studio Miraval 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, reaching No.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 'n' Roll".
The next album, The Razors Edge, was recorded in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and was mixed and engineered by Mike Fraser 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 No.5 and No.16 respectively on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart, and "Moneytalks", which peaked at No.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 No.1 on the US Mainstream Rock chart, the band's first No.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 because of the band's strong desire to again work with Rudd. Recorded at the Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles by the reunited 1980–83 line-up and produced by Rick Rubin, Ballbreaker was released in 1995. 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.
In 2000, the band released 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, Spain in 1996. The first single, "Stiff Upper Lip", remained at No.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 No.7 and No.31 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks, respectively.
In 2003, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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.
On 16 October 2007, Columbia Records released a double and triple DVD titled Plug Me In. The set consists of five and seven hours of rare footage, and even a recording of AC/DC at a high school performing "School Days", "TNT", "She's Got Balls", and "It's a Long Way to the Top". 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.
On 18 August 2008, Columbia Records announced 18 October Australian release, and 20 October worldwide release, of the studio album Black Ice. The 15-track album was the band's first studio release in eight years, was produced by Brendan O'Brien and was mixed and engineered by Mike Fraser. Like Stiff Upper Lip, it was recorded at The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, British Columbia. Black Ice was sold in the US exclusively at Walmart 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. Black Ice debuted at No.1 on album charts in 29 countries and also was Columbia Records' biggest debut album (since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales data for Billboard in March 1991). Black Ice has been certified Multi Platinum in eight countries, including the US, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Germany and the Czech Republic.
On 19 April 2010, AC/DC released Iron Man 2, the soundtrack for the eponymous film. One month later, the band headlined Download Festival at Donington Park, and closed the Black Ice World Tour in Bilbao, Spain on 28 June 2010, after 20 months in which AC/DC went to 108 cities in over 28 countries, with an estimated audience of over five million people.
On 19 November 2012, AC/DC released Live at River Plate, their first live album in 20 years.
On 23 September 2014, Alberts management confirmed that founding member Malcolm Young had officially departed from the band and revealed that their new record entitled Rock or Bust featuring eleven new tracks would be released on 28 November 2014 as the first AC/DC album in the band's history without Malcolm Young on the recordings. The band also announced plans for a world tour to promote the new album with Malcolm and Angus' nephew Stevie Young as Malcolm's replacement.
On 7 March 2016, the band announced that the final ten dates of the Rock or Bust World Tour would be rescheduled as Johnson's doctors had ordered him to stop touring immediately, as his hearing loss had accelerated and he risked complete deafness if he persisted on the road. The ten cancelled dates would be performed "likely with a guest vocalist" later in the year, leaving Johnson's future in touring with the group uncertain. Johnson himself later stated on The Howard Stern Show that his hearing loss didn't come from having performed for 36 years with AC/DC, but rather his love of auto racing and having forgotten to put ear plugs in during one race left him with a ruptured ear drum in his left ear.
On 19 April 2016, Johnson made an official statement regarding his health problems and inability to tour. In the statement, he acknowledged his ongoing hearing difficulties but stated his intentions to continue recording and potentially resume touring if his health improves sufficiently. He also specifically thanked Angus Young and Cliff Williams for their support during his AC/DC tenure.
On 16 April 2016, AC/DC released a statement announcing the addition of Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose as the band's lead vocalist for the remainder of their 2016 tour dates. The statement reads: "AC/DC band members would like to thank Brian Johnson for his contributions and dedication to the band throughout the years. We wish him all the best with his hearing issues and future ventures. As much as we want this tour to end as it started, we understand, respect and support Brian's decision to stop touring and save his hearing. We are dedicated to fulfilling the remainder of our touring commitments to everyone that has supported us over the years, and are fortunate that Axl Rose has kindly offered his support to help us fulfill this commitment. AC/DC will resume their Rock or Bust World Tour with Axl Rose joining on vocals."
On 8 July 2016, Cliff Williams indicated he was retiring from the band in an interview with Gulfshore Life, saying "It's been what I’ve known for the past 40 years, but after this tour I’m backing off of touring and recording. Losing Malcolm, the thing with Phil and now with Brian, it’s a changed animal. I feel in my gut it’s the right thing." At the end of the Rock or Bust Tour he released a video statement confirming his retirement.
Following the band's final show with Williams on 21 September 2016 in Philadelphia, PA it was announced that Axl Rose would be joining the band full-time and that he and Angus would continue AC/DC with different musicians.
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