Highway to Hell (song)

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"Highway to Hell"
Highway to Hell by AC-DC Australian vinyl release A-side.jpg
A-side label of one of the Australian vinyl releases
Single by AC/DC
from the album Highway to Hell
B-side"If You Want Blood (You've Got It)"
Released27 July 1979
Format7-inch single
RecordedMarch–April 1979
LabelAlbert Productions
Songwriter(s)Bon Scott, Angus Young, Malcolm Young
Producer(s)Mutt Lange
AC/DC singles chronology
"Rock 'n' Roll Damnation"
"Highway to Hell"
"Girls Got Rhythm"
Music video
"Highway to Hell" on YouTube

"Highway to Hell" is the opening track of AC/DC's 1979 album Highway to Hell. It was initially released as a single in 1979.

The song was written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young and Bon Scott, with Angus Young credited for writing the guitar riff which became an instant classic.[2] AC/DC had made several studio albums before and were constantly promoting them via a grueling tour schedule, referred to by Angus Young as being on a highway to hell. Hence the name. [2]

In January 2018, as part of Triple M's "Ozzest 100", the 'most Australian' songs of all time, "Highway to Hell" was ranked number 40.[3]


The song's title and lyrics reflects the incredibly arduous nature of touring constantly and life on the road.[2]. The highway that inspired the name of the song, Canning Highway, connects the cities Perth to Fremantle and was home to many of Bon Scott's favourite pubs and hotels, including the Raffles Hotel.[4][5]

The single spent 45 weeks on the German Singles Chart, even though it peaked at only No. 30, in its 19th week on that chart.[6]

Lead vocalist Bon Scott was found dead in the back of a friend's car, just over six months after the song was released.[2] The song is in the key of A Major[7].

"Highway to Hell" won the 'Most Played Australian Work Overseas' category at the 2009 APRA Awards.[8]



"Highway to Hell" was produced by Mutt Lange as part of the album by the same name, and his work is regarded as a significant factor in delivering one of the classic AC/DC albums, the emergence of the double-guitar sound, which was later perfected on Back in Black, and improved backing vocals with Malcolm Young, joined by Cliff Williams for the first time.[2]

Live recordings[edit]

"Highway to Hell (live)"
Single by AC/DC
from the album AC/DC Live
B-side"Hells Bells (live)"
Released8 November 1992
Format7-inch single, CD single
GenreHard rock, blues rock
Songwriter(s)Bon Scott, Angus Young, Malcolm Young
Producer(s)Bruce Fairbairn
AC/DC singles chronology
"Are You Ready"
"Highway to Hell (live)"
"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (live)"
Music video
"Highway to Hell" (AC/DC Live) on YouTube

"Highway to Hell" has been included on three official live albums:

List of accolades[edit]

Track listing[edit]


Released 1992 by ATCO

  1. "Bonny"/"Highway to Hell (Live)"
  2. "Hells Bells (Live)"
  3. "The Jack (Live)"

Germany and France[edit]

Released 1992 by ATCO

  1. "Highway to Hell (Live)"
  2. "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be (Live)"
  3. "High Voltage (Live)"


Released 1992 by Albert Productions / Epic Records

  1. "Bonny"/"Highway to Hell (Live)"
  2. "High Voltage (Live)"
  3. "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be (Live)"

US and Canada[edit]

Released 1979 by Atlantic Records (Atlantic #3617)

  1. A Side: "Highway To Hell"
  2. B Side: "Night Prowler"

Released 1992 by ATCO (Atco #98491-2)

  1. "Highway to Hell (Live)"
  2. "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be (Live)"

Released 1992 by ATCO (Atco #96135-2)

  1. "Highway to Hell (Live)"
  2. "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be (Live)"
  3. "The Jack (Live)"
  4. "High Voltage (Live)"

Released 1992 by ATCO

  1. "Highway to Hell (Live)"
  2. "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be (Live)"
  3. "The Jack (Live)"
  4. "High Voltage (Live)"
  5. "Back in Black (Live)"


Chart performance[edit]

Year Chart Position
1979 Austrian Singles Chart 52
Belgian Singles Chart 14
Dutch Singles Chart 17
French Singles Chart 23
German Singles Chart 30
Spanish Singles Chart 24
Swedish Singles Chart 36
UK Singles Chart[11] 56
US Billboard 100[12] 47
1992 Australia Singles Chart[13] 29
Dutch Singles Chart[14] 69
Swiss Singles Chart[15] 37
US Billboard Mainstream Rock 1
2012 Scottish Singles Chart 36
UK Singles Chart[11] 40
Billboard Hot Digital Songs 1
2013 UK Singles Chart[11] 3
Irish Singles Chart 23
Scottish Singles Chart 36


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[16] 2× Platinum 100,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[17] Platinum 1,000,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[18] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Smith, Troy L. (24 May 2016). "50 greatest album-opening songs". cleveland.com. Retrieved 31 December 2018. Singer Bon Scott’s crowning achievement with AC/DC is the opening title-track for 'Highway to Hell,' a hard rock anthem that remains one of the band’s greatest songs.
  2. ^ a b c d e Wall, Mick (2012). AC/DC: Hell Aint a Bad Place to Be. London: Orion Publishing group. ISBN 9781409115359.
  3. ^ "Here Are The Songs That Made Triple M's 'Ozzest 100'". Musicfeeds. 27 January 2018. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  4. ^ "AC/DC – The Stories Behind The Songs". NME. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  5. ^ Harmon, Steph. "Highway to Hell: 10km of major Perth highway to shut for AC/DC covers concert". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  6. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche - musicline.de". musicline.de.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ https://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtd.asp?ppn=MN0083035
  8. ^ "2009 Winners". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Archived from the original on 12 January 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  9. ^ Highway to Hell The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  10. ^ "500 Songs That Shaped Rock". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  11. ^ a b c "highway to hell | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  12. ^ "AC/DC Highway To Hell Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  13. ^ "australian-charts.com - AC/DC - Highway To Hell (Live)". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  14. ^ "AC/DC - Highway To Hell (Live) - hitparade.ch". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  15. ^ "AC/DC - Highway To Hell (Live) - hitparade.ch". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  16. ^ "Italian single certifications – AC/DC – Highway to Hell" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Select "20109" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Highway to Hell" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli online" under "Sezione".
  17. ^ "British single certifications – AC/DC – Highway to Hell". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Highway to Hell in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  18. ^ "American single certifications – AC/DC – Highway to Hell". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH.