Back in Black (song)
|"Back in Black"|
|Single by AC/DC|
|from the album Back in Black|
|A-side||"What Do You Do for Money Honey"|
|Released||21 December 1980|
|Recorded||Compass Point Studios, The Bahamas, spring 1980|
|Producer(s)||Robert John "Mutt" Lange|
|AC/DC singles chronology|
Cover of the Spanish release
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 Stone's 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.'"
- Angus Young – lead guitar
- Brian Johnson – lead vocals
- Malcolm Young – rhythm guitar, background vocals
- Cliff Williams – bass guitar, background vocals
- Phil Rudd – drums
Covers and other versions
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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:
- 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 Australian band Regurgitator, on Fuse Box: The Alternative Tribute.
- 2001 Hayseed Dixie, on A Hillbilly Tribute to AC/DC.
- 2003 Back in Baroque... The String Tribute to AC/DC.
- 2004 Six Feet Under, on Graveyard Classics 2.
- 2005 Wing, on Wing sings AC/DC.
- 2007 Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews & Orleans Avenue recorded live at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
- 2007 Those Darn Accordions, on Squeeze Machine.
- 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.
- 2014 Dinah Eastwood on "Back in Black - Single".
In popular culture
- This song was used in TV shows and films including Black Hawk Down, School of Rock, The Sopranos, Supernatural, Iron Man, Megamind, Grudge Match, The Smurfs, The Karate Kid, The Muppets, Death Wish, and Ash vs Evil Dead, in addition to an episode of Alias, which originally aired after Super Bowl XXXVII on ABC.
- "Back in Black" appeared in the trailers for the films Lilo & Stitch, Kung Fu Panda 3 and Death Wish as well as the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
- The song is used as the entrance song for Iowa Hawkeyes football during home games at Kinnick Stadium.
- The song was used in Riley's First Date?, a short film based on the 2015 film, Inside Out.
- Wrestler Vampiro uses the song as his theme music.
|Canada (Music Canada)
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||500,000^|
|United States (RIAA)
^shipments figures based on certification alone
- Ertegün, Ahmet (2001). 'What'd I Say?': The Atlantic Story: 50 Years of Music. Welcome Rain Publisher. p. 546. ISBN 978-1-56649-048-1.
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'.
- "Back In Black by AC/DC". Songfacts. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- "Why AC/DC's Back In Black is one of the best riffs of all time". Metal Hammer. 3 October 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
- Byers, Will (1 October 2008). "School of rock: What makes a classic metal anthem?". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
- "40 Greatest Metal Songs (40–31)". VH1. MTV Networks. 1–4 May 2006. Archived from the original on 13 September 2006.
- "Vh1 Top 100 Hard Rock Songs". Archived from the original on 4 January 2009.. VH1. Prefix Magazine. 1–5 January 2009.
- "Back in Black". Rolling Stone. 9 December 2004. Archived from the original on 28 May 2007.
- "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 4 April 2010.
- "Triple M's Ultimate Rock 500". Triple M. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012.
- "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- "2012 Top 40 Rock & Metal Singles Archive – 1st December 2012". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
- "AC/DC nix Beastie Boys sample" (LexisNexis Academic Search). NME. 11 November 1999. Retrieved 15 February 2007.
- "Jazz Fest Live – live recordings from New Orleans Jazz Fest". Archived from the original on 1 January 2011.. Jazz Fest Live.
- Bianco, Robert (23 January 2003). "Super 'Alias' will bowl you over". USA Today. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- "AC/DC's Music Featured In 'Riley's First Date' Short Film". Blabbermouth.net. 16 October 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
- "Back in Black – Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending MARCH 7, 1981". Cash Box. Archived from the original on 18 September 2012.
- "ARIA Top 100 Singles – Week Commencing 3rd December 2012" (PDF). ARIA. Pandora. 4 January 2013. p. 3. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- "Lescharts.com – AC/DC – Back in Black" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- "GAON 노래방 CHART – 2013년 4월 3주차" (in Korean). Gaon Music Chart. Archived from the original on 12 May 2014.
- "AC/DC Chart History (Digital Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- "Hard Rock Digital Songs: January 12, 2013". Billboard. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
- "Hot 100 Recurrents: December 8, 2012". Billboard. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
- "Swedishcharts.com – AC/DC – Back in Black". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
- "Canadian single certifications – AC/DC – Back in Black". Music Canada.
- "Italian single certifications – AC/DC – Back in Black" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Select "2017" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Back in Black" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli online" under "Sezione".
- "Certificaciones" (in Spanish). Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Type AC/DC in the box under the ARTISTA column heading and Back in Black in the box under TÍTULO
- "British single certifications – AC/DC – Back in Black". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 15 December 2017. Select singles in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Back in Black in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
- "American single certifications – AC/DC – Back in Black". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH.