Rock 'n' Roll Train

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"Rock 'N' Roll Train"
Single by AC/DC
from the album Black Ice
B-side"War Machine"
Released28 August 2008
FormatDigital download, 7-inch vinyl, DVD single
RecordedMarch–April 2008
GenreHard rock
Songwriter(s)Angus Young, Malcolm Young
Producer(s)Brendan O'Brien
AC/DC singles chronology
"Satellite Blues"
"Rock 'N' Roll Train"
"Big Jack"
Music video
"Rock 'N Roll Train" on YouTube

"Rock 'N' Roll Train" is a song by Australian rock band AC/DC. It is the first track on the album Black Ice to receive radio airplay. The band released a 7-inch vinyl single that featured the song "Rock 'N' Roll Train" on Side A, and "War Machine" on Side B. The 7-inch single came in a sleeve with its own unique artwork. The 7-inch vinyl was also made available in the United States through some independent record shops.

As with the success of the Black Ice album, the single was released to huge success. It was used in many television advertisements, more often being used as ESPN sports bumpers. It hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, staying there for over three weeks. The song was also the first by AC/DC to chart on Billboard Alternative Songs chart.

With the exception of new material from an album they are touring behind, this is one of the only two songs released after For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) that the band still performs live in concert, the other being "Thunderstruck".


Originally composed with the title "Runaway Train",[1] the song was first heard by fans on 15 August 2008, at the shooting of the music video in London. The song was notable for being the first song from a major artist to be leaked online legally when one Scottish fan at the video shoot memorized the riff and sung it on YouTube on 17 August.[2] Angus Young initially conceived the song, and his brother Malcolm Young created the backing vocal harmony of the chorus ("Running right off the track").[3]

On 27 August 2008, close to midnight, the single was uploaded to AC/DC's official website and AC/DC's MySpace. It made its worldwide radio debut on 28 August at 17:00 New Zealand time on The Rock radio station. Many Australian stations played the song straight after their 4:00 pm news services. The song later made its way onto classic rock radio stations Planet Rock, Virgin Radio Classic Rock, Radio Caroline, radio2XS and Rock Radio in the UK. The song made its North American debut on 28 August on CKQB-FM in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. "Rock 'n' Roll Train" debuted at number one on the Canadian rock chart for the week ending 5 September.

On 30 August 2008, the first Saturday of the U.S. college football season, the song was played extensively on ESPN and ABC college football broadcasts as intro and bumper music, along with other AC/DC songs "Thunderstruck" and "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)". It was also played on a promo for CBS's Criminal Minds.[4] It peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.[5] In November 2008 the song became AC/DC's first song to enter the U.S. dance chart.[6]

Throughout the month of November, the World Wrestling Entertainment website featured the music video for "Rock 'N' Roll Train", as well as the song "Spoilin' for a Fight", which was the theme to the Survivor Series 2008.

The song was used to open shows on the Black Ice tour. A cartoon was played on the giant video screen above the stage; at the end of this cartoon a life-sized train came crashing out onto the stage. It is at this point that the band came out on stage and proceeded to play the song.

The song "Rock 'N' Roll Train" was also used in an episode of Knight Rider titled "Knight to King's Pawn".

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Rock 'n' Roll Train" – 4:21
  2. "War Machine" – 3:09

Music video[edit]

On 15 August 2008, AC/DC filmed the music video to accompany the song in London, where 150 contest winners and their guests were present.[8] The video premiered on 19 September on the band's official website.

On 23 October 2008, the band released the music video online in ASCII art in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet format – the first music video to be produced in such format.[9]

The video also featured clips of the short film "London to Brighton in Four Minutes".


In 2009, "Rock 'n' Roll Train" was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.[10] It also won an APRA Award for Most Played Australian Work Overseas.[11] In 2018 "Rock 'n' Roll Train" was voted number 6 by Absolute Radio listeners in their “Song of our Decade” poll

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2008) Peak
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[12] 45
Japan (Japan Hot 100) 44
U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 1
U.S. Billboard Alternative Songs 25
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play 30


  1. ^ For Those About To Rock Archived 25 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ New AC/DC song Rock 'N' Roll Train leaked… sort of |
  3. ^ a b di Perna, Alan (January 2009). "AC/DC: The Big Chill". Guitar World. Future US: 2. ASIN B001LNP3IO. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  4. ^ New AC/DC Single Hits Radio, Web |
  5. ^ Top Rock Songs & Charts, Rock Music Hits & Popular Rock Music Charts|
  6. ^ Caulfield, Keith (2008-11-19). "Taylor Swift's 'Fearless' Flies At No. 1 With 592,000". Billboard magazine. Retrieved 2008-11-19.
  7. ^ Kot, Greg (16 October 2008). "Let there be rock! AC/DC recycles classic sound on 'Black Ice'". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 19 October 2008. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  8. ^ "AC/DC wants YOU for their new video". AC/ 9 August 2008. Archived from the original on 12 August 2008. Retrieved 9 August 2008.
  9. ^ AC/DC "Rock 'N Roll Train" – The World's First Music Video in an Excel Spreadsheet Archived 25 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^,,20332903_20257062,00.html
  11. ^ "Winner 2010 Song of the Year". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  12. ^ AC/DC - Rock N' Roll Train - Music Charts

External links[edit]