We’ve all heard the stories — the late, great Bon Scott had written lyrics, or recorded demos, for 1980’s Back In Black prior to his death. . . AC/DC found a notebook of Scott’s and used it as the blue print for the album. . . The legends have spanned decades. During a chat with Paste, guitarist and leader Angus Young was asked if any of the rumors about Bon Scott contributing to the album are true — including whether there’s a tape of him singing the album’s songs. Young explained, “No. There’s never been one. Bon never really got the chance. At the time, me and Malcolm (Young) were writing songs, which became the songs for Back In Black. We were in London in a rehearsal room, and Bon had come down, too. And what used to happen was, me and Malcolm would get together and get a drum kit, and Malcolm would get behind the drums sometimes, and I’d get on the guitar and just tap out a riff. Or other times, Malcolm would get on the guitar and he’d get me to just knock out a simple beat on the drums.”
Angus went on to recall, “Anyhow, we were working away, and it was on an intro which was actually what became the intro for ‘Hells Bells.’ So Bon showed up, and Malcolm said, ‘Oh, great, Bon! You can get behind the kit!’ Because originally, Bon started as a drummer. So Bon got behind the drum kit so we could try and work out this intro, how we wanted to do it. So we sorted that out how we wanted, and the other one was ‘Have A Drink On Me,’ a riff Malcolm was playing around with. So we worked out the intro on that and how the song was gonna go. So he had Bon tapped to do a demo for that. So that was it, really.”
He went on to sum up Scott’s contribution: “If you were looking up what Bon had done, it was really just to help us with those demos on the drums. And he even said to us, as we were knocking off in the night time, ‘Look, we’ll hook up next week.’ He’d been working on some lyrics, and said, ‘We’ll hook up next week and maybe the three of us can just start going through stuff.’ But unfortunately, he passed before that.
- AC/DC‘s Back In Black was released on July 25th, 1980, and has gone on to become the band’s biggest selling album ever, Back In Black.
- It was the band’s first set without lead singer Bon Scott, who had died on February 19th, 1980 at age 33, after passing out and choking on his own vomit following a long night of drinking.
- The group quickly decided to press on and hired Brian Johnson from the band Geordie to take over on vocals, and they headed to the Bahamas for about six weeks to do the album.
- The album, produced by “Mutt” Lange, took off, and eventually sold over 25 million copies in the U.S. All told, Back In Black spent a whopping 22 weeks in the Billboard 200 Top Ten.
- The tracklisting to AC/DC’s Back In Black is: “Hells Bells,” “Shoot To Thrill,” “What Do You Do for Money Honey,” “Given The Dog A Bone,” “Let Me Put My Love Into You,” “Back In Black,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” “Have A Drink On Me,” “Shake A Leg,” and “Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.”
CHECK IT OUT: AC/DC’s video for 1980’s “Hells Bells”: