AC/DC: Two of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll

Origin: Sydney, Australia
Genres: hard rock, blues rock, 
rock and roll, heavy metal

Bon Scott formed AC/DC with brothers Malcolm and Angus Young in 1973. Angus was only 18, and his sister suggested he wear his school uniform on stage. The look became the band's visual trademark. The group's lyrics are about drinking, sex, and rock. In 1976, Rolling Stone wrote about the band's first release:  "Hard Rock has unquestionably hit its all-time low." 

VH1's list of 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock ranked AC/DC number 4. MTV's Greatest Heavy Metal Band of All Time counted them at 7. VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2010 numbered the band 23. In 2003, Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list included Back in Black at number 73 and Highway to Hell at number 199. The title tracks of both records are among the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock.

Highway to Hell
Single: AC/DC
Album: Highway to Hell
Released: July 27, 1979
Genre: Hard rock
Songwriters: Bon Scott, Angus Young, Malcolm Young

AC/DC exploded onto the international stage in 1979 with their sixth album, Highway to Hell. The title track from the LP was the first AC/DC song to chart in the US and drove sales for the album. Rolling Stone magazine ranked the tune number 258 of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. 

The Canning Highway in Australia is nicknamed the Highway to Hell. It runs from where lead singer Bon Scott lived in Fremantle and ends at a rock 'n roll drinking hole called The Raffles in the '70s. As Canning Highway approaches the pub, it dips into a steep decline. People die driving fast from the top of the hill on the way for a good night out. 

When Bon says, "I'm on the highway to hell," it means that he was doing the nightly or weekly pilgrimage down Canning Highway to The Raffles bar to rock and drink with his mates: "Ain't nothing I would rather do. Going down, party time, my friends are gonna be there too." Just months after its release, Scott died of acute alcohol poisoning after a night of heavy drinking. 

Back in Black 
Single: AC/DC
Album: Back in Black
B-side: What Do You Do for Money Honey
Released: December 1980 
Genre: Hard rock
Songwriters: Brian Johnson, Angus Young, Malcolm Young

"Back in Black" was the second single AC/DC released from the 1980 album of the same name. It reached number 37 on the Billboard Hot 100. The track's known for its opening guitar riff. In a retrospective piece on "Back in Black," Metal Hammer magazine wrote: 

"There are rock songs that appeal to metal fans. And there are metal songs that appeal to rock fans. Then there is Back in Black – a rock and metal song that appeals to everybody, from dads to dudes to little old ladies beating noisy kids over the heads with their sticks – and it all hangs on that monumental, no-nonsense, three-chord monster of a riff."

VH1 ranked "Back in Black" number 4 on their list of the 40 Greatest Metal Songs in 2006. In 2009, it was named the second-greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1. In 2004, on their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list, Rolling Stone included "Back in Black" at number 190 and "Highway to Hell" at 258.


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