More than four decades into a career that shows no signs of slowing down or letting up, AC/DC, like electricity itself, provides the world with an essential source of power and energy. Since the band formed in 1973, AC/DC’s high voltage rock ‘n’ roll has flowed out into the world via consistently sold-out concert tours and global sales totaling 200 million records and counting. Sony Music Entertainment’s #1 best-selling catalog band worldwide, AC/DC has sold more than 71 million albums in the U.S. alone, making AC/DC one of the five top-selling bands in American music history and one of the US’s Top 10 best-selling artists. One of the group’s best-loved works, the enormously successful and influential Back In Black, has achieved RIAA “Double Diamond” status, for sales in excess of 22 million copies in the United States, and is one of the U.S.’s biggest selling albums ever (in 2007, it was the 5th best-selling album of all-time in the U.S). With total worldwide sales estimated at upwards of 45 million copies, Back In Black is the planet’s #1 top-selling album by a band and is second only to Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the world’s best-selling album.
But the roots of AC/DC lie back in Australia, and before that Glasgow, Scotland, where Angus and Malcolm Young – the musical core of the band (and still the most formidable guitar team in rock history) – were born (in 1958 and 1953, respectively). In 1963, the Young family migrated to Sydney, Australia, where music would make its mark on the brothers. (As a member of the Easybeats, George Young, Angus and Malcolm’s older sibling, was responsible for one of Australia’s first international hits, “Friday On My Mind,” in 1966. From 1974 through 2000, George and musical collaborator, Harry Vanda, produced a number of AC/DC albums including High Voltage, T.N.T., Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Let There Be Rock, If You Want Blood You’ve Got It, Powerage, ‘74 Jailbreak, Who Made Who, Blow Up Your Video, and Stiff Upper Lip.)
Taking a cue and encouragement from their older brother’s musical success, Angus and Malcolm Young formed their own rock ‘n’ roll combo and premiered their inimitable interlocking guitar sound on December 31, 1973 at a New Year’s Eve gig at Sydney’s Chequers Club.
Calling their new rock band “AC/DC” (from the back of a sewing machine owned by their sister, Margaret), Angus and Malcolm moved from Sydney to Melbourne and began plowing through numerous line-ups searching for a solid rhythm section and a lead singer whose voice could match the manic assault of the Young brothers’ guitars. The newly-christened AC/DC found its spiritual spark-plug in Bon Scott, a hard-living, hard-loving, hard-playing wild-eyed rabble-rousing singer who’d once “auditioned” for the band when he’d worked for them as a roadie and driver back in Sydney. With Bon Scott, another born Scotsman who’d relocated to Australia as a lad, in place as co-frontman to Angus’s trademark raffish schoolboy-in-knickers, AC/DC was ready to electrify the world.
Quickly signed by George Young to Albert Productions (and the Albert Music label) in Australia, AC/DC kicked out its first Australian album releases, 1974’s High Voltage (a somewhat different album from the US High Voltage) and 1975’s T.N.T. With each album achieving silver, gold, and platinum status in Australia, AC/DC embarked on a regime of relentless touring that would become one of the most enduring hallmarks of the band’s career.
In 1976, having conquered their very first continent, AC/DC set off for Great Britain. When the band’s no-holds-barred double-barrel rock ‘n’ roll landed them a residency at the prestigious Marquee Club, AC/DC promptly broke the venue’s all-time house attendance record. AC/DC’s days in clubland would not last much longer. Within a year, Let There Be Rock, the band’s first simultaneous worldwide release would catapult them into the stadium strata. AC/DC was ready to take on America, where the cover art for Let There Be Rock featured the first usage of the now-unmistakable AC/DC logo — raised metallic Gothic lettering separated by Zeus’s own lightning bolt.
The summer of 1977 found AC/DC performing a dizzying crisscross of American gigs, ranging from clubs like the Palladium and CBGB in New York and the Whiskey in Los Angeles to sprawling venues like the Jacksonville Coliseum. By 1978, AC/DC was one of the hottest concert attractions in the world. That same year, they released Powerage and the If You Want Blood You’ve Got It live album.
For the group’s next studio album, they teamed up with producer Mutt Lange to create the undeniable hard rock masterpiece, 1979’s Highway To Hell, the first AC/DC album to break into the US Top 100 and the first to go gold in America. In December of that year, the band went to Paris to film the monumental “Let The Be Rock” concert film, a quintessential document of a golden moment in the band’s rise to world fame.
On February 19, 1980, with the band finding genuine success around the world, lead singer Bon Scott died in London at the age of 33. Reeling from the shock of the loss of their boisterous and soulful lead singer, the surviving members of AC/DC decided there was only one way to pay proper tribute to Bon Scott: carry on and create the music he’d want them to make.
The group found an incredibly simpatico new lead singer and frontman in Brian Johnson, a Newcastle native who’d sung in a band Bon Scott raved about called Geordie. Returning to the studio with Mutt Lange, AC/DC and the group’s new vocalist created Back In Black, one of the best-selling albums, in any musical genre, of all-time. Powered by the title track and the anthemic “You Shook Me All Night Long,” Back In Black hit #1 in the UK and #4 in the US, where it has gone on to achieve 22x platinum (double Diamond plus two million) status.
AC/DC continued releasing best-selling albums through the 1980s and 1990s accompanied by sold-out tours and major headlining concert and festival performances — including attendance-record-smashing concerts on the “Monsters of Rock,” Castle Donington, “Rock In Rio,” and 1991’s “Rock Around The Bloc” festival at Tushino Airfield in Moscow, a free concert attended by close to one million fans.
On September 15, 2000, AC/DC was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame and had their hands imprinted in the cement in front of the Guitar Center on Hollywood Boulevard.
On March 10, 2003, AC/DC was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler performed the induction, sang “You Shook Me All Night Long” with AC/DC during the ceremony and described the group’s signature power chords and timelessly enduring rock ‘n’ roll as “…the thunder from Down Under that gives you the second-most-powerful surge that can flow through your body.”
Released in 2008, after an eight-year hiatus between studio releases, AC/DC’s heavily-anticipated Black Ice, the group’s debut album on Columbia Records, rocketed to #1 in 31 different countries, selling 784,000 copies its first week in the US alone. The biggest-selling Columbia Records’ debut in the SoundScan era, Black Ice has sold more than 8 million copies worldwide.
One of the most successful catalog acts in music history, AC/DC surpassed the Beatles in 2008 as that year’s #1 top-selling catalog artist in the United States. In 2008-2009 combined, AC/DC enjoyed 7.8 million worldwide catalog units shipped with 2.9 million catalog titles SoundScanned in the US.
Perpetually ranked among the world’s top touring attractions for more than 30 years, AC/DC was presented with the Major Tour of the Year award, for the phenomenal Black Ice World Tour, at the 20th Annual Pollstar Concert Industry Awards ceremony on January 30, 2009. According to Pollstar, the Black Ice World Tour closed out 2009 as the 2nd highest grossing world tour of the year.
On January 31, 2010, AC/DC took home the group’s first Grammy Award when “War Machine,” a rock & roll scorcher from Black Ice, won Best Hard Rock Performance.
AC/DC, whose signature “Back In Black” played in a crucial scene in the hit film “Iron Man,” contributed 15 of the band’s classic recordings from 1976-2008 to AC/DC: Iron Man 2, the sequel’s soundtrack, in 2010.
AC/DC headlined the Download Festival at Donington Park before closing the Black Ice World Tour in Bilbao, Spain, on June 28, 2010. 20 months long, the Black Ice World Tour hit 108 cities in more than 28 countries, with AC/DC performing to more than five million fans. Three concerts from the tour, recorded in December 2009 at the River Plate Stadium in Argentina, were released on the Live at River Plate DVD in May 2011; an exclusive single from the DVD was released on Record Store Day 2011. That same year, “AC/DC: Let There Be Rock,” the band’s monumental 1980 concert film, was released on Blu-ray and DVD.
AC/DC commemorated the band’s 40th anniversary in 2013, announcing plans for a forthcoming studio album and tour to follow the resounding success of Black Ice.
In December 2014, Columbia Records released AC/DC’s Rock or Bust, the band’s highly-anticipated successor to Black Ice. The first AC/DC studio album in six years, Rock or Bust premiered 11 heart-pounding head-banging new tracks, each of them a worthy addition to the AC/DC canon. Rock or Bust was recorded in the spring of 2014 at the Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, British Columbia, with producer Brendan O’Brien and mixer Mike Fraser.
Turner Sports gave fans a first taste of Rock or Bust when TBS began using the track “Play Ball” as part of the network’s 2014 Major League Baseball Postseason campaign.
Rock or Bust is the first AC/DC album in the band’s history to be recorded without the contributions of founding member Malcolm Young who, due to illness, was unable to remain an active member of the ensemble. Stevie Young, nephew of AC/DC founding members Angus Young and Malcolm Young, has joined the band as rhythm guitarist and is performing with the group on the 2015 Rock or Bust World Tour, with Chris Slade playing drums.
The Rock or Bust album was released with a non-traditional and inventive three-dimensional lenticular cover, which gives the illusion of the band’s iconic logo exploding when the album is moved in different directions. The unique 3-D cover art can be seen on the band’s site and is available on both the CD and vinyl versions of the album.
“Play Ball,” the first video from Rock or Bust, was shot in London in October 2014, lensed by the band’s longtime visual collaborator David Mallet. “Play Ball” reached Top 5 at Active Rock and #1 on Classic Rock radio with RollingStone.com raving that the track was “Classic AC/DC through and through” and “proves that nothing can stop hard rock’s most reliable band.”
In November 2014, AC/DC released the official video, also directed by David Mallet, for Rock or Bust‘s title track. USA Today picked “Rock or Bust” as their Song of the Week, praising the track’s high energy, writing “AC/DC still has the ability, as (Brian) Johnson sings to ‘rock you to your knees.'” Rolling Stone heralded the song as a “reverent tribute to rock & roll itself.”
Released on December 2, 2014, Rock or Bust hit #1 in 12 countries–including Australia, Canada, Germany and Sweden–while busting Top 5 in another 12 territories including New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and Italy. The album has sold 2.8 million copies worldwide.
On February 11, 2015, AC/DC announced a group of North American concert dates for the Rock or Bust World Tour, kicking off August 22 in Foxborough, Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium and running through September 28 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. European dates on the Rock or Bust World Tour began May 5 in Holland and ran through late July
AC/DC kicked off the 57th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony with an an explosive rendition of “Rock or Bust” followed up with an unforgettable “Highway To Hell,” marking the band’s first performance on U.S. television in more than 14 years. Shortly after their Grammy performance, AC/DC lensed the “Rock the Blues Away” video in Los Angeles, the band’s third Rock or Bust clip with director David Mallet.
AC/DC headlined the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April 2015 as part of the Rock or Bust World Tour launch.