Arguably the greatest turn-around in rock ’n’ roll history, AC/DC bounced back from the death of singer Bon Scott, who drank himself to death in a London pub in February 1980, to make the biggest selling hard rock album ever made with new singer Brian Johnson just five months later. Fifty million sales and counting, ‘Back In Black’ is a behemoth of rock – but do you know it inside out? Here’s ten trivia tidbits you may have missed…
1. The elements almost stopped it
Deciding to record in the Bahamas for the tax breaks very nearly backfired when tropical storms hit the Nassau studio, causing regular power cuts. The weather is referenced in Johnson’s lyrics: “I’m rolling thunder, pourin’ rain. I’m comin’ on like a hurricane. My lightning’s flashing across the sky. You’re only young but you’re gonna die.”
2. Nature tried to guest star
When they weren’t avoiding crabs that wandered into the recording rooms from the beach, they were plagued by flocks of birds. While trying to record the chime of bells from a nearby church, the recording were ruined by a flock of birds flying away every time the bell struck.
3. They had to make their own bell
In the end, the band resorted to their original plan of having their own bell made for recording. The two-ton bell turned up perfectly tuned, and became a fixture of the band’s live shows.
4. It never went to #1 in the US
Despite selling a monumental number of copies and staying in the Billboard Chart for 131 weeks on its initial release, it has never reached Number One. Instead, every time it’s been reissued, it has peaked at Number Four every time.
5. It could have been some more black
The original plan for the album was to have the sleeve entirely back as a sign of mourning for Bon Scott. Their label Atlantic objected however, and a compromise was made wherein the AC/DC logo was bordered in grey.
6. It’s a sonic industry standard
So perfect is the sound of ‘Back In Black’ considered that Motorhead use the record to tune their sound systems and several studios in Nashville use it to check the acoustics of a room.
7. The title riff was very old
Angus Young used to play the riff to ‘Back In Black’ as a warm-up tune in the years leading up to recording the album.
8. It inspired Nirvana
When Kurt Cobain received his first guitar at the age of 14, the first song he learned to play was ‘Back In Black’.
9. It’s stripping music
‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ has been named one of the most played tracks in US strip clubs, as the groove and lyric lend themselves well to pole-dancing.
10. It saved a helicopter pilot’s life
After the Battle Of Mogadishu in Somalia in 1993, downed helicopter pilot Michael Durant was captured by the enemy and savagely beaten. His compatriots knew that AC/DC were his favourite band, so they attached speakers to their helicopters and flew over the town’s rooftops playing ‘Hell’s Bells’. Despite having a broken back and legs, this gave Durant the strength to crawl into view and wave his shirt from a window for rescue.