The Perseverance of AC/DC

Rock n’ Roll as a genre has bridged several generations, undergone multiple aural alterations, felt the undeniable shift in visual appearance and image, and has remained present and influential in the 21st century. Despite this consistency in existence, Rock N’ Roll bands and musicians have tended to ebb and flow, with few being capable of surpassing the inevitable struggle and hardships that tend to be attached to the exciting yet emotionally and physically strenuous career. Until recently, one of the leaders in this group of sustainable and wildly successful bands was AC/DC. Persevering through the injuries, deaths, and illnesses, AC/DC has spent the last 40 years touring the world and creating fresh signature music, all while refusing to give in to the difficulties and stresses of being a Rock N’ Roll band.

In 1979 AC/DC was a band on a magnificent rise, their 7th album Highway to Hell had officially put them on the map and awoken the United States to the sheer talent and power the band possessed. Sadly, this time also marked the beginning of the bands continuous dance with success and turmoil. A short time after the Highway to Hell mania, lead singer, Bon Scott was found dead in his car on February 19, 1980, seemingly ending the short lived triumph of AC/DC.

Unwilling to accept conclusion, AC/DC, who stated that the death of Bon Scott was “like losing a member of your family,” sought out to hire Brian Johnson, singer that Bon Scott was exceptionally fond of, only two months after the passing of their bandmate and friend. Unlike the majority of bands who suffer the loss of an iconic lead singer, AC/DC made a swift decision to carry on in honor of their friend and their share passion for Rock N’ Roll music.

Prior to Scott’s Death AC/DC had begun working on their next studio album, Back in Black to which vocals had not yet been recorded. Brian Johnson finished the record and in the summer of 1980 Back in Black was released. This album, despite the band’s loss of original lead singer, would become the 5th bestselling album of all time in the United States and remains viewed as a fundamental and extremely impactful Rock N’ Roll record. Clearly their decision to press forward was a smart one.

As the 1980’s progressed AC/DC faced another challenge, one much different than the loss of Scott. The Rock N’ Roll music game was drastically changing, the t-shirts and blue jeans of the past were being traded in for big hair and theatrics, attributes AC/DC was beyond unfamiliar with. Declining to fall in line with the times, AC/DC released a string of praised hard rocking albums, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, which went Number 3 in the U.S. and For Those About to Rock, We Salute You, which became the group’s first U.S. Number One LP. Proving themselves to be an unwavering group of musicians who’s intent and Rock N’ Roll vision would forever go unswayed, AC/DC remained popular during a time when what they creating was on the decline.

Following several additional albums in the 1980’s and the 1990, The Razors Edge’s chart topping single “Moneytalks,” AC/DC was well established and adored by fans around the world. Yet their celebratory days were cut short when in 1991 three fans were crushed to death at an AC/DC concert in Salt Lake City. Clearly a tragic event that struck deep within the moral of the band, AC/DC laid low for two years until moving forward in the positive manner we have come to expect with their record, Ballbreaker in 1995.

Having been a band for 20 years at this point, AC/DC continued to provide their loyal fan base with rocking tunes and memorable performances, seeming to almost break their alliance with difficult days. In 2008 their return with Black Ice became their first album since 1981 to hit Number 1 on the U.S. charts. Following the wake of such a monumental achievement, AC/DC were declared by Recording Industry Association of America in 2009 as the 9th bestselling artists in U.S. History, sealing their fate as Rock N’ Roll royalty.

While on another incredible career high, AC/DC was met with a road block different from those they had encountered before. Co-founder, rhythm guitarist, and song writer, Malcolm Young began noticing his initial stages of dementia throughout the world tour of their hit record, Black Ice. By 2014, while undergoing work on their new album, it was announced that Malcolm Young’s illness was forcing him to take leave from the band he had co-created and been a part of for the large majority of his life. As we’d come to expect by this point, AC/DC rocked on when Malcolm was replaced by non-other than his and Angus Young’s nephew, Stevie Young.

Hoping to have their hard days far behind them, AC/DC has unfortunately remained in turmoil for their most recent years. While on tour in 2016, it was announced that by doctors’ orders, Brian Johnson was to quit performing or risk complete loss of hearing in both of his ears. In utter AC/DC fashion, refusing to disappoint such loyal fans and loath in self-pity, Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses was recruited to finish out the remaining tour dates.

With the recent diagnosis of their lead singer, retirement of long time bassist Cliff Williams in 2016, and the heart wrenching death of Malcolm Young in 2017, the state of AC/DC could appear to be in wreckage. Though with very little surprise, Brian Johnson made his long-awaited return to performing AC/DC songs live when he joined the band Muse onstage for “Back in Black” during their set at Redding Festival in England. Exciting fans by a potential AC/DC return, Johnson speaks positively about his recovery saying, “I was really moved and amazed to be able to hear music again like I haven’t heard for several years now.”

A band known for their traditional rock beats and energetic live performances, AC/DC is no stranger to trying times and career crippling moments. What remains apparent from their history of perseverance and resilience is that AC/DC’s love for Rock N’ Roll has steam rolled their trials and tribulations, marking them as a band that refuses to give in to dark and difficult days. Never assume AC/DC must be down for the count, that’s when they arrive with their next #1 record.

–Victoria Shaffer


Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. “AC/DC | Biography & History.” AllMusic,
Kreps, Daniel. “AC/DC’s Brian Johnson Returns to Stage in Surprise Muse Cameo.” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 28 Aug. 2017,
Daveswanson. “The Death of Bon Scott.” Ultimate Classic Rock, 19 Feb. 2016,
“AC/DC Biography.” Rolling Stone,
edrivadaviayahoo-com. “How Happenstance Originally Brought Brian Johnson to AC/DC.” Ultimate Classic Rock, 1 Apr. 2015,
Browne, David. “AC/DC’s Brian Johnson on Malcolm Young: ‘He Gave Rock and Roll a Fist’.” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 22 Nov. 2017,
Fricke, David. “AC/DC’s Angus Young Talks Retirement, Malcolm Young Health Update.” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 18 Nov. 2017,

17 thoughts on “The Perseverance of AC/DC

  1. Great synopsis on AC/DC! You’re right about never counting them out, “Back In Black” was a wonderful and amazing comeback that no one (including me) anticipated. I’ve seen them four times over the last 30 years, more times than any other band. Unfortunately, I never got to see Bon Scott, wish I had.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Seeing Bon Scott would have been incredible! From videos I’ve watched he seemed to be quite the showman.

      I was lucky enough to attend a few AC/DC shows myself, and they never seemed to slow down! Just a great Rock band all around.

      Thank you for reading and for sharing your experience! Have an awesome weekend!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. AC/DC were truly amazing! Very few bands rocked as hard. Unfortunately, I never saw them live.

    I think perhaps the toughest challenge for most bands is when they lose “their voice,” since that is such an identifiable feature of their sound. So when Brian Johnson left, to me that was pretty much it.

    Axl Rose is a great singer but should stick to his own guns, in my humble opinion!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Couldn’t agree more! That’s why it is so astonishing that their careers were able to expand even farther after Highway to Hell and the death of Bon Scott. Back in Black proved that AC/DC was truly more than their voice, but a whole package.

      As for Axl Rose, I appreciate his efforts to help keep AC/DC alive. Exposes how much these classic Rock guys admire one another.

      Fingers crossed Brian Johnson’s hearing continues to improve! Who knows, we may be hearing from them once more 🙂

      Thank you for your awesome input! Have a nice weekend!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post. They put on a terrific concert. I took my boys when they were teens. We sat to the right of the stage just above Angus as he played and shed clothing which he is prone to do. He is legendary for his guitar riffs to start songs. The have stood the test of time which s hard for any band, much less a rock and roll band. We have lost some great musicians the last two years – Bowie, Prince, Berry, Frey, Petty, Campbell, M. Young to name only a few.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They are awesome in concert! Have the stamina of people half their age! Such an iconic band with signature riffs and tunes.

      It is so heartbreaking the amount of wonderful musicians we have lost in the last few years… but at least we have their music to forever keep us rocking!

      Thank you for your input! I hope you have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

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