"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." 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, and in 2009, it was named the second greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1. It was also ranked No. 187 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The same magazine has also ranked "Back in Black" No. 29 on "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time".
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.
It officially charted on the UK charts after 31 years in release; peaking in at #27 as a result of AC/DC music becoming available on iTunes. It also reached #1 on the UK Rock Charts in the same week.
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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.'"
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 to 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."
Covers and other versions 
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:
- 1984 Beastie Boys, sampled without permission on "Rock Hard"
- 1986 Boogie Down Productions, sampled without permission on "Dope Beat"
- 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.
- 1989 Skrewdriver on Warlord
- 1995 Kid Rock, demo with no vocals he scratch 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.
- 1995 Australian band Regurgitator, on Fuse Box: The Alternative Tribute
- 2001 Sampled by Five on the song "Lay All Your Loving On Me" from the album Kingsize.
- 2001 Hayseed Dixie, on A Hillbilly Tribute to AC/DC
- 2003 Living Colour, on Collideøscope
- 2003 Back in Baroque... The String Tribute to AC/DC
- 2004 Shakira, on Live & Off the Record
- 2004 Six Feet Under, on Graveyard Classics 2
- 2004 ApologetiX, on New & Used Hits: The Best of ApologetiX Vol. 1 & 2
- 2005 Wing, on Wing sings AC/DC
- 2006 Art Brut, sampled without permission on a live recording of "Formed a Band"
- 2007 Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews & Orleans Avenue recorded live at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
- 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.
- 2010 Carlos Santana on his cover album Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time; this version features rapper Nas.
- 2010 Skindred on Metal Hammer's The Metal Forge, Vol.2: A Tribute to AC/DC
- 2012 Anastacia on her covers album It's a Man's World
Use in the media 
- This song was used in television series Alias in the now infamous opening scene of season two episode "Phase One", which originally aired after Super Bowl XXXVII on ABC and featured lead actress Jennifer Garner undercover as CIA agent Sydney Bristow.
- This song inspired the intro to comedian Lewis Black's long running "Back in Black" segment of The Daily Show on Comedy Central.
- This song is used in television series, Supernatural, in the pilot episode and also in the season two episode "Bloodlust."
- The song is used in the opening scene of the movie Iron Man.
- The song is used frequently in the Lilo & Stitch trailers and TV spots, but is not included in the film's soundtrack or even featured in the film itself.
- This song is on the AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack.
- The song is used in The Karate Kid (2010 film), a remake of the 1984 film of the same name.
- The song is used when the New Zealand Warriors run out of the tunnel at their home ground for NRL games.
- The song is used when the Glasgow Warriors run out of the tunnel at their home ground for RaboDirect Pro12 and Heineken Cupgames.
- The song is used as a team song by the South Australian Redbacks
- The song is used in School of Rock when Jack Black assigns his students parts in the band, and is not included on the film soundtrack.
- Flamengo's supporters sing this song at home matches.
- A portion of the song is used in the 2010 DreamWorks film Megamind, before inconguously segueing into the Minnie Riperton song Lovin' You.
- The song is used as the Pawn Stars theme on the History Channel.
- The song is used when the London Wasps rugby union team run out for their home games.
- The song was used by Eric Bischoff for his WWE debut as General Manager on WWE Raw. The following week his entrance theme was changed to a similar sounding song.
- The song was used to introduce comedian Tom Stade onto the stage during the Birmingham episode of Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow in June 2009.
- The song is used by the Iowa Hawkeyes football team during home games at Kinnick Stadium as they leave their locker rooms, and proceed to the field entrance.
- The song is sometimes used for the intro of Alex Zane on Balls of Steel.
- The song can be heard in the 2011 film The Smurfs, when Patrick and the 5 Smurfland residents journey to confront Gargamel and rescue Papa.
- It's heard in the 2011 movie The Muppets.
- It's heard in the 2011 TV commercials for Wal-Mart, promoting Black Friday sales.
- It's heard during a Call of Duty: Black Ops II trailer featuring gameplay from the game.
- A portion of the song is used in Series 16, Episode 2 of Top Gear when the presenters of Top Gear Australia arrive in a prison lorry for a series of contests.
External links 
- Lyrics on AC/DC's official website