37 Years Ago: @acdc Overcome Tragedy With the Masterful ‘Back in Black’
When a popular band loses its singer, it rarely bounces back to reach the level of success it had prior to the lineup shift. The most remarkable exception to this rule is Australian powerhouse AC/DC, which released the legendary album ‘Back in Black’ on July 25, 1980.
The album was dedicated to the band’s late vocalist Bon Scott, who died on February 19, 1980, after a night of heavy drinking. Though they were devastated by the death of their friend and briefly considered breaking up, AC/DC decided to carry on with a new singer. Two days after Scott’s funeral, guitarists Angus and Malcolm Young continued working on new riffs. Angus has said that getting right back to work distracted them from the grief.
While most other singers auditioned with Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water,” Johnson tried out with Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits,” which earned the immediate approval and respect from the band, who were tired of playing “Smoke on the Water” and pleased Johnson listened to different styles of music. On April 8, 1980, following two auditions, Johnson agreed to sign a six-month contract with AC/DC, which would be evaluated after it expired. If at any point during the six months either the band or Johnson decided the pairing wasn’t working out, they could sever the deal. Of course, that was never an issue. Johnson fit AC/DC like a rubber glove.