Get Back in Black Song essential facts below, , or join the Back in Black Song discussion. Add Back in Black Song to your PopFlock.com topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
"Back in Black" is a song by AC/DC, appearing as the first track on side two of their 1980 album of the same name.
Known for its opening guitar riff, the song was AC/DC's tribute to their former singer Bon Scott. His replacement Brian Johnson recalled to Mojo magazine in 2009 that when the band asked him to write a lyric for this song, "they said, 'it can't be morbid - it has to be for Bon and it has to be a celebration.'" He added: "I thought, 'Well no pressure there, then' (laughs). I just wrote what came into my head, which at the time seemed like mumbo, jumbo. 'Nine lives. Cats eyes. Abusing every one of them and running wild.' The boys got it though. They saw Bon's life in that lyric."
In a retrospective piece on "Back in Black", Metal Hammer magazine hailed the song's riff as one of the greatest riffs ever and wrote, "There are rock songs that appeal to metal fans. And there are metal songs that appeal to rock fans. Then there is Back in Black - a rock and metal song that appeals to everybody, from dads to dudes, to little old ladies beating noisy kids over the heads with their sticks - and it all hangs on that monumental, no-nonsense, three-chord monster of a riff." Will Byers from The Guardian said "AC/DC's judicious use of space" in the song helped make it a "classic metal anthem".
The song was ranked No. 4 by VH1 on their list of the 40 Greatest Metal Songs. In 2009, it was named the second-greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1. The song was also ranked No. 187 on Rolling Stones list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The same magazine has also ranked the song No. 29 on their list of "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time", and wrote of the song in an accompanying piece: "Angus and Malcolm Young's dual-guitar masterpiece is the platonic ideal of hard rock."
As a single, "Back in Black" peaked in the U.S. at No. 37 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1981 as well as at No. 51 on Billboard's Top Tracks chart, which debuted in March 1981. "Back in Black" received the RIAA's Master Ringtone Sales Award (Gold and Platinum) in 2006 and reached 2× Platinum status in 2007. It officially charted on the UK charts after 31 years in release; peaking in at no. 27 because of the band's music becoming available on iTunes. It also reached no. 1 on the UK Rock Charts in the same week.
In 1984, the Beastie Boys sampled "Back in Black" without permission for their song "Rock Hard". In 1999, when they wished to include it on an upcoming CD compilation release, they sought permission but AC/DC refused. Mike D of the Beastie Boys quoted Malcolm Young's reason for refusing as: "'Nothing against you guys, but we just don't endorse sampling.'"
Two live versions of the song later appeared on both versions of the album Live, as well as the Australian tour edition of Stiff Upper Lip. It has been covered by a number of artists, including Living Colour and Shakira. Other versions include:
1989 Red Hot Chili Peppers started using "Back in Black" as an intro and outro jam to some of their own songs at various live shows. In 1990 they played it as an ending jam to their own song, "Sexy Mexican Maid" on the television show, Night Music. In 1999 the band once again used "Back in Black" as an intro jam to their songs at a few of their live shows.
1995 Kid Rock, demo with no vocals, he scratched over the riff and added a hip hop beat to it; he also covers it in concert usually just the riff in the middle of "Devil Without a Cause", but he will cover it fully occasionally.
2007 Public Enemy, "Black Is Back", a revamped version done in tribute to AC/DC. This is a reworked version as the original that was unreleased on album due to legal red tape, but it can viewed freely on YouTube.
2010 Muse played the song on the third day of Big Day Out in Australia, with Nic Cester from Jet on vocals. Since then, Muse play the "Back in Black" solo as an outro to "Hysteria" in most live performances.
In a 2002 Gap commercial, the model plays the opening riff and then proclaims 'My first love? Angus Young'. Four years later, the company featured the song in their 2006 Gap in Black advert featuring footage of Audrey Hepburn dancing in Funny Face.
^shipments figures based on certification alone sales+streaming figures based on certification alone
^Ertegün, Ahmet (2001). 'What'd I Say?': The Atlantic Story: 50 Years of Music. Welcome Rain Publisher. p. 546. ISBN978-1-56649-048-1. Back in Black includes one of their best known songs, 'You Shook Me All Night Long' (#35 Pop), and hard rock classics 'Hells Bells', 'Back in Black' (#37 Pop) and 'Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution'.