AC/DC were formed in 1973 in Australia by guitarist Malcolm Young after his previous band, the Velvet Underground, collapsed. With his younger brother Angus serving as lead guitarist, the band played some gigs around Sydney. Angus was only 15 years old at the time and his sister suggested that he should wear his school uniform on-stage; the look became the band’s visual trademark.
AC/DC’s mammoth power chord roar became one of the most influential hard rock sounds of the ’70s, and is now one of the defining sounds of rock and metal. In its own way, it was a reaction against the pompous art rock and lumbering arena rock of the early ’70s. AC/DC’s rock was minimalist — no matter how huge and bludgeoning their guitar chords were, there was a clear sense of space and restraint.
The band moved to Melbourne in ’74, where drummer Phil Rudd (formerly of the Coloured Balls) and bassist Mark Evans joined the lineup. The band’s chauffeur, Bon Scott, became the lead vocalist when singer Dave Evans refused to go on-stage. Previously, Scott had been vocalist for the Australian prog rock bands Fraternity and the Valentines.
The group released two albums: “High Voltage” and “T.N.T.” — in Australia in 1974 and 1975. Material from the two records comprised the 1976 release “High Voltage” in the U.S. and U.K.; the group also toured both countries. “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” followed at the end of the year. In the fall of 1977, AC/DC released “Let There Be Rock”, which became their first album to chart in the U.S. Mark Evans left the band soon after, with Cliff Williams taking his place. “Powerage”, released in spring of 1978, expanded their audience even further, thanks in no small part to their dynamic live shows (which were captured on 1978’s live If You Want Blood You’ve Got It). What really broke the doors down for the band was the following year’s “Highway to Hell”, which hit number 17 in the U.S. and number eight in the U.K., becoming the group’s first million-seller. AC/DC’s train was derailed when Bon Scott died on February 19, 1980. The official coroner’s report stated he had “drunk himself to death.” In March, the band replaced Scott with Brian Johnson. The following month, the band recorded Back in Black, which would prove to be its biggest album, selling over ten (10) million copies in the U.S. alone. For the next few years, the band was one of the largest rock bands in the world, with “For Those About to Rock We Salute You” topping the charts in the U.S. In 1983, Rudd left the band after the recording of “Flick of the Switch”; he was replaced by Simon Wright.
AC/DC have sold more than 200 million records worldwide, including 71.5 million albums in the United States alone, adding them to the List of highest-certified music artists in the United States and the List of best-selling music artists. “Back in Black” has sold an estimated fifty (50) million units worldwide, making it the fifth-highest-selling album by any artist– and the third-highest-selling album by any band. The album has sold 22 million units in the US alone, where it is the sixth-highest-selling album of all time. AC/DC ranked fourth on VH1’s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock” and were named the seventh “Greatest Heavy Metal Band of All Time” by MTV.In 2004, AC/DC ranked No. 72 on the Rolling Stone list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. In 2010, AC/DC were ranked number 23 in the VH1 list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.