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
GenreHard rock[1]
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]


The song is about the Canning highway in Perth. It relates to trying to drive home after pub gigs as back in the day the raffles hotel was a pub with not much else around it, yet police would be stationed everywhere around it, therefore trying to drive home after a gig became a problem hense the highway to hell.

The song's title reflects the incredibly arduous nature of touring constantly and life on the road.[2]

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.[3]

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[4].

"Highway to Hell" won the 'Most Played Australian Work Overseas' category at the 2009 APRA Awards.[5]



"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]


Chart performance[edit]

Chart Position Year
UK Singles Chart 24 1978
56 1979
40 2012
4 2013
Austrian Singles Chart 52 1979
Belgian Singles Chart 14
French Singles Chart 23
German Singles Chart 30
Dutch Singles Chart 17
69 1992
Spanish Singles Chart 24 1979
Swedish Singles Chart 36
Billboard 100 (US) 47
Billboard Mainstream Rock (US) 1 1992
Australia Singles Chart 29
Swiss Singles Chart 37
Scottish Singles Chart 36 2012
2 2013
Irish Singles Chart 23
Digital Chart Position Year
Billboard Hot Digital Songs 1 2012

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)"

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. ^ "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]
  4. ^ https://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtd.asp?ppn=MN0083035
  5. ^ "2009 Winners". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Archived from the original on 12 January 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  6. ^ Highway to Hell The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  7. ^ "500 Songs That Shaped Rock". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved 15 November 2014.