Apple Music 100 Best Albums

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Back in Black



Out of tragedy came one of the biggest, brashest rock albums ever made.

When impish AC/DC singer Bon Scott died on February 19, 1980, the band’s career—one that had, after years of hard touring, made a huge leap in America on the back of 1979’s Highway to Hell—seemed destined to go with him. But after Scott’s father pulled Angus and Malcolm Young aside at the funeral and gave his blessing for the band to continue, the brothers began working on new music—at first as a way of mourning, but soon as a chance at rebirth. Six weeks later, Brian Johnson was in, and AC/DC was back. (Yes, they’re back.)

Despite its backstory, Back in Black is imbued with the same good-time riffs and grooves of the band’s previous output. Johnson proved himself cut from a similar cloth as Scott, imbuing songs such as “You Shook Me All Night Long” with double entendres (“She told me to come/But I was already there”) and an otherworldly rasp. Released five months after Scott’s passing, Back in Black became nothing less than one of the biggest-selling albums of all time and the blueprint for hard rock’s commercial domination through the ’80s.