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Back In Black on Wikipedia
"Back in Black"
ACDC Back in Black Single Cover.jpg
Single by AC/DC
from the album Back in Black
A-side"What Do You Do for Money Honey"
Released21 December 1980 (1980-12-21)
Format7 inch
RecordedCompass Point Studios, The Bahamas, spring 1980
GenreHard rock[1]
  • Angus Young
  • Malcolm Young
  • Brian Johnson
Producer(s)Robert John "Mutt" Lange
AC/DC singles chronology

"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]


  • 1 Personnel
  • 2 Sampling
  • 3 Covers and other versions
  • 4 Use in the media
  • 5 Charts
  • 6 Certifications
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links


  • Angus Young – lead guitar
  • Brian Johnson – lead vocals
  • Malcolm Young – rhythm guitar, background vocals
  • Cliff Williams – bass guitar, background vocals
  • Phil Rudd – drums


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]

The song "Rock'n Roll Dance ('92 Heavy Mix)" from Seo Taiji and Boys' 1992 self-titled debut album samples "Back in Black". Eminem released a version of his 1999 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". 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. In 2010, Limp Bizkit samples the song during live performances of "My Way."[citation needed]

Covers and other versions

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:

  • 1986 Boogie Down Productions, sampled without permission on "Dope Beat".
  • 1989 Red Hot Chili Peppers started using "Back in Black" as an intro and outro jam to some of their own songs at various live shows. In 1990 they played it as an ending jam to their own song, "Sexy Mexican Maid" on the television show, Night Music. In 1999 the band once again used "Back in Black" as an intro jam to their songs at a few of their live shows.
  • 1989 Skrewdriver on Warlord
  • 1995 Kid Rock, demo with no vocals, he scratched over the riff and added a hip hop beat to it; he also covers it in concert usually just the riff in the middle of "Devil Without a Cause", but he will cover it fully occasionally.
  • 1995 Australian band Regurgitator, on Fuse Box: The Alternative Tribute.
  • 2001 Sampled by Five on the song "Lay All Your Loving On Me" from the album Kingsize.
  • 2001 Hayseed Dixie, on A Hillbilly Tribute to AC/DC.
  • 2003 Australian band The Fergusons performed the song live on Triple J as part of the station's Wrong Way To The Top gig, which was part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
  • 2003 Back in Baroque... The String Tribute to AC/DC.
  • 2004 Six Feet Under, on Graveyard Classics 2.
  • 2004 ApologetiX, on New & Used Hits: The Best of ApologetiX Vol. 1 & 2.
  • 2005 Wing, on Wing sings AC/DC.
  • 2007 Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews & Orleans Avenue recorded live at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.[10]
  • 2007 Public Enemy, "Black Is Back", a revamped version done in tribute to AC/DC. This is a reworked version as the original that was unreleased on album due to legal red tape, but it can viewed freely on YouTube.
  • 2007 Those Darn Accordions, on Squeeze Machine.
  • 2010 Muse played the song on the third day of Big Day Out in Australia, with Nic Cester from Jet on vocals. Since then, Muse play the "Back in Black" solo as an outro to "Hysteria" in most live performances.
  • 2010 Carlos Santana on his cover album Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time; this version features rapper Nas.
  • 2011-2012 Backstreet Boys sampled the instrumentals of the song during the song "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" on the NKOTBSB Tour.
  • 2010 Skindred on Metal Hammer's The Metal Forge, Vol.2: A Tribute to AC/DC.
  • 2012 Anastacia on her covers album It's a Man's World.
  • 2012 Robbie Williams used a portion of the song during "Kids" on his last stadium tour.

Use in the media

  • This song was used in TV shows and films including Black Hawk Down, School of Rock, The Sopranos, Supernatural, Iron Man, Megamind, Grudge Match, The Smurfs, The Muppets and Ash vs Evil Dead, in addition to an episode of Alias, which originally aired after Super Bowl XXXVII on ABC.[11]
  • "Back in Black" appeared in the trailers for the films Lilo & Stitch and Kung Fu Panda 3 as well as the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
  • The song is used as the entrance song for Iowa Hawkeyes football during home games at Kinnick Stadium.
  • The song was used in 2014 commercials for The Blacklist.
  • In a 2002 Gap commercial, the model plays the opening riff and then proclaims 'My first love? Angus Young'. Four years later, the company featured the song in their 2006 Gap in Black advert featuring footage of the late British actress Audrey Hepburn dancing in Funny Face.
  • The song has been used in Walmart TV commercials for several years.
  • The song is used in the 2015 ads for the Chevrolet Colorado and Nissan's Black Friday promotion.
  • The song was used in Riley's First Date?, a short film based on the 2015 film, Inside Out.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time at the Wayback Machine (archived 4 April 2010). Rolling Stone.
  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.
  4. ^ Vh1 Top 100 Hard Rock Songs at the Wayback Machine (archived 4 January 2009). VH1. Prefix Magazine. 1–5 January 2009.
  5. ^ Back in Black at the Wayback Machine (archived 28 May 2007). Rolling Stone. 9 December 2004.
  6. ^ Triple M's Ultimate Rock 500 at the Wayback Machine (archived 29 February 2012). Triple M.
  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 at the Wayback Machine (archived 1 January 2011). Jazz Fest Live.
  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.
  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. ^ (Korean) GAON 노래방 CHART – 2013년 4월 3주차 at the Wayback Machine (archived 12 May 2014). Gaon Music Chart.
  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. ^ "Canadian single certifications – AC/DC – Back in Black". Music Canada. 
  24. ^ "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 2017 in the field Anno. The certification will load automatically
  25. ^ "British single certifications – AC/DC – Back in Black". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Back in Black in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
  26. ^ "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

  • Lyrics on AC/DC's official website

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