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 21 December 1980
Format 7 inch
Recorded Compass Point Studios, The Bahamas, spring 1980
Genre Hard rock[1]
Length 4:15
Label Atlantic
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."[2] 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 2× Platinum status in 2007.

The song was ranked No. 4 by VH1 on their list of the 40 Greatest Metal Songs,[3] and in 2009, it was named the second greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.[4] It was also ranked No. 187 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[5] The same magazine has also ranked "Back in Black" No. 29 on "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time".[1]

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 no. 27[7] as a result of AC/DC music becoming available on iTunes. It also reached no. 1 on the UK Rock Charts in the same week.[8]



In 1984, the Beastie Boys sampled "Back in Black"[1] 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 a number of artists, including Living Colour and Shakira.[1] Other versions include:

Use in the media[edit]



Region Certification Sales/shipments
Italy (FIMI)[23] Gold 25,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[24]
2× Platinum 2,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales/streaming figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ a b c d The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time at the Wayback Machine (archived 4 April 2010). Rolling Stone. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  2. ^ "Back In Black by AC/DC". Songfacts. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  3. ^ 40 Greatest Metal Songs (40 – 31) at the Wayback Machine (archived 13 September 2006). VH1. MTV Networks. 1–4 May 2006. Retrieved 10 September 2006.
  4. ^ Vh1 Top 100 Hard Rock Songs at the Wayback Machine (archived 4 January 2009). VH1. Prefix Magazine. 1–5 January 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2009.
  5. ^ Back in Black at the Wayback Machine (archived 28 May 2007). Rolling Stone. 9 December 2004. Retrieved 23 November 2008.
  6. ^ Triple M's Ultimate Rock 500 at the Wayback Machine (archived 29 February 2012). Triple M. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Archive Chart: 2012-12-01" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  8. ^ a b "2012 Top 40 Rock & Metal Singles Archive – 1st December 2012". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  9. ^ "AC/DC nix Beastie Boys sample" (LexisNexis Academic Search). NME. 11 November 1999. Retrieved 15 February 2007. 
  10. ^ "Jazz Fest Live – live recordings from New Orleans Jazz Fest". Jazz Fest Live. 27 April 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  11. ^ Bianco, Robert (23 January 2003). "Super 'Alias' will bowl you over". USA Today. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  12. ^ "AC/DC's Music Featured In 'Riley's First Date' Short Film". 16 October 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  13. ^ a b "Back in Black – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  14. ^ CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending MARCH 7, 1981 at the Wayback Machine (archived 18 September 2012). Cash Box magazine. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  15. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Singles – Week Commencing 3rd December 2012" (PDF). ARIA. Pandora. 4 January 2013. p. 3. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  16. ^ " – AC/DC – Back in Black" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  17. ^ "Archive Chart: 2012-12-01". Scottish Singles Top 40. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  18. ^ "GAON 노래방 CHART – 2013년 4월 3주차" (in Korean). Gaon Music Chart. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  19. ^ "AC/DC – Chart history" Billboard Digital Songs for AC/DC. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  20. ^ "Hard Rock Digital Songs: January 12, 2013". Billboard. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  21. ^ "Hot 100 Recurrents: December 8, 2012". Billboard. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  22. ^ " – AC/DC – Back in Black". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  23. ^ "Italian single certifications – AC/DC – Back in Black" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana.  Select Online in the field Sezione. Enter AC/DC in the field Filtra. Select 2015 in the field Anno. The certification will load automatically
  24. ^ "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

External links[edit]

  • Lyrics on AC/DC's official website