Back in Black (song)

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"Back in Black"
Single by AC/DC
from the album Back in Black
A-side "What Do You Do for Money Honey"
Released 1981
Format 7 inch
Recorded Compass Point Studios, The Bahamas, spring 1980
Genre Hard rock
Length 4:15
Label Atlantic
Writer(s) Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Brian Johnson
Producer(s) Robert John "Mutt" Lange
AC/DC singles chronology
"Hells Bells"
"Back in Black"
"Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution"
Alternative cover
Cover of the Spanish release
A sample of AC/DC's "Back in Black" from Back in Black

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"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."[1] It peaked in the U.S. at No. 37 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1981 and was 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 2x Platinum status in 2007.

The song was ranked No. 4 by VH1 on their list of the 40 Greatest Metal Songs,[2] and in 2009, it was named the second greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.[3] It was also ranked No. 187 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[4] The same magazine has also ranked "Back in Black" No. 29 on "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time".[5]

In 2010, this song came No. 2 in Triple M's Ultimate 500 Rock Countdown in Melbourne, Australia. The top five were all AC/DC songs.[6]

It officially charted on the UK charts after 31 years in release; peaking in at #27[7] as a result of AC/DC music becoming available on iTunes. It also reached #1 on the UK Rock Charts in the same week.[8]


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.'"[9]

Art Brut usually began their song "Formed a Band" with the intro to "Back in Black" when they played it live. A recorded version of this can be found on their 2006 Nag Nag Nag Nag EP. Eminem released a version of his hit, "My Name Is", with "Back in Black" as the bassline. The song was also heavily sampled by the Evolution Control Committee in creating the song "Rocked by Rape". In 2010, Limp Bizkit samples the song during live performances of "My Way."[citation needed]

Covers and other versions[edit]

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 bands such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Hives, Steriogram, Living Colour, Foo Fighters with Jack Black, Travis and Colombian pop singer Shakira. Other versions include:


Use in the media[edit]


Chart (2012) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[12] 65
France (SNEP)[13] 58
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[14] 28
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[15] 27


  1. ^ Back In Black Songfacts
  2. ^ "VH1 40 Greatest Metal Songs", 1–4 May 2006, VH1 Channel, reported by; last accessed 10 September 2006.
  3. ^ " music". Archived from the original on 12 February 2009. Retrieved February 7, 2009. 
  4. ^ "No. 187 Back in Black". Rolling Stone. 9 December 2004. Archived from the original on 28 December 2006. Retrieved 23 November 2008. 
  5. ^ Rolling Stone - Search Articles
  6. ^ "Triple M's Ultimate Rock 500 - 100 to 1 | Music". Triple M. Retrieved 2011-08-19. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ AC/DC Storm the UK Rock Charts!
  9. ^ "AC/DC nix Beastie Boys sample" (LexisNexis Academic Search). New Musical Express. November 11, 1999. Retrieved 2007-02-15. 
  10. ^ "27 April 2007 - Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue", Jazz Fest Live,
  11. ^ Bianco, Robert (2003-01-23). "Super 'Alias' will bowl you over". USA Today. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ " – AC/DC – Back in Black" (in French). Les classement single.
  14. ^ "Archive Chart". Scottish Singles Top 40.
  15. ^ "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart.

External links[edit]

  • Lyrics on AC/DC's official website