For Those About to Rock (AC/DC Salutes You)!
Written by: Frank Iacono
AC/DC are an Australian rock band, formed in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia in 1973 by Scottish-born brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. In addition to the Young brothers, other prominent band members have included lead singers Dave Evans, Bon Scott, Brian Johnson and Axl Rose, Guitarist Stevie Young, Bassists Mark Evans and Cliff Williams, and Drummers Phil Rudd and Chris Slade.
For almost half a century, AC/DC’s inimitable brand of high voltage rock ’n’ roll has served as one of the most defining sounds of hard rock and heavy metal in music history. In its own way, their sound developed as a reaction against the pompous art rock and lumbering arena rock of the early ’70s.
AC/DC’s rock was unassuming — no matter how huge and bludgeoning Angus Young’s guitar chords were, there was a clear sense of space and restraint. Combined with Scott and Johnson’s larynx-shredding vocals, the band spawned countless imitators over the next four decades and enjoyed unbelievable commercial success well into the 2000s.
AC/DC have sold more than 200 million records worldwide, including 71.5 million albums in the United States, making them the tenth highest-selling artist in the USA and the 14th best-selling artist worldwide. Back in Black, their seventh studio album, has sold an estimated 50 million units worldwide, making it the third 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 2003, AC/DC was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked them No. 72 on the list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. In 2010, VH1 ranked AC/DC number 23 in its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.
In honor AC/DC’s incredible musical career, we selected five of their legendary songs and ranked them accordingly.
#5 ” For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”
Inspired by the legendary salute proclaimed by Roman gladiators as they entered the arena, “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You),” the title track from the band’s eighth studio album, was the sort of grand statement AC/DC simply had to make as a follow-up to 1980’s world-conquering Back in Black release. For Those About to Rock became the first AC/DC album to ever hit No. 1 in the US on the Billboard chart and stayed on the top for three weeks. To date, in the US, it has achieved four million sales. In the UK, the album’s two singles, “Let’s Get It Up” and “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”, made it to No. 13 and No. 15, respectively.
#4 “Highway To Hell”
The title track from “Highway to Hell,” their sixth studio album, finally established AC/DC as a serious hard rock band all over the world. New producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange helped the band craft catchy songs that popped on radio, and none worked quite as brilliantly as this one. The song details an account of the trials and tribulations of touring and features one of the best riffs the Young brothers ever strummed. The single hit number 17 in the U.S. and number eight in the U.K., becoming the group’s first million-seller. This seemed like the beginning of a new era in Scott’s life, but sadly, it would end up being his final chapter as he died from acute alcohol poisoning six months following the album’s release. Recently, AllMusic called the song “Highway to Hell” “one of hard rock’s all-time anthems.”
By 1990, it appeared that AC/DC was losing steam. It had been 10 long years since the release of the epic album Back in Black, and although they remained a popular live act, they had a hard time scoring a blockbuster hit. Well, that all changed with “Thunderstruck,” an enormous song that sounds like a vicious thunderstorm. The track helped The Razors Edge, their twelfth studio album, sell millions of records and it’s been a highlight of their stage show ever since. The song has sold over a million digital copies since it became available for digital download. In January 2018, as part of Triple M’s “Ozzest 100”, the ‘most Australian’ songs of all-time, “Thunderstruck” was ranked number 8.
#2 You Shook Me All Night Long”
In 1980, “You Shook Me All Night Long,” the first single released from AC/DC’s Black in Black featuring Brian Johnson as the band’s new lead singer, reached number 35 on the USA’s Hot 100 pop singles chart. The track, features one of the catchiest choruses and showcases their musical versatility, was placed at number 10 on VH1’s list of “The 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s”. Additionally, it was ranked number 1 on VH1’s “Top Ten AC/DC Songs”. Guitar World positioned “You Shook Me All Night Long” at number 80 on their “100 Greatest Guitar Solos” list. Equally, it was a huge hit all across the world and remains their signature song during concerts.
#1 “Black in Black”
In February of 1980, following the untimely death of lead singer Bon Scott, AC/DC could have easily produced an oversentimental nostalgic record honoring his death, but instead they rallied together and realized that a better way to honor their fallen comrade was to create the most bombastic, hardest rocking record of their lives. With the help of new powerhouse singer Johnson, they succeeded beyond anything they could have imagined. As far as rock anthems go, the title track of the album “Black in Black” — AC/DC’s greatest hit — is truly a celebration of Bon and a vivid reminder that the band still had plenty of life. The track is as close to perfection as it gets. Starting with a scratchy guitar count-in, things go large when the song’s gargantuan riff kicks in — perhaps the most iconic guitar riff in rock history. Ever since its release, “Black in Black” has been used in countless TV shows, movies and commercials over the years, but it somehow still retains its primal power.