Writers: Angus Young, Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson
Producer: Robert John “Mutt” Lange
Recorded: April-May 1980 at Compass Point Studios, Nassau, Bahamas
Released: July 21, 1980
|Album:||Back In Black (Atco, 1980)|
“Hell’s Bells” is the opening track of Back In Black, the Australian hard rock outfit’s best-selling release from 1980. Like many of the songs on Back In Black, “Hell’s Bells” pays tribute to Bon Scott, AC/DC’s celebrated frontman until February 19, 1980, when he died after passing out and choking on his own vomit in London. Though the band’s future suddenly seemed uncertain, AC/DC quickly rallied and hired Brian Johnson from the band Geordie just two months after Scott’s death. Although there were misgivings about how Johnson would be received, Back In Black peaked at Number Four on the Billboard 200 and has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. Johnson’s high-end sandpaper shrieking, plus the band’s newfound ability to stock an album full of tightly constructed rockers (and as many fist-wavers), helped push AC/DC to even greater levels of popularity. AC/DC capitalized on Back In Black’s success by re-releasing some earlier albums, including the popular Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, which hit Number Three on the Billboard 200 in 1981–one notch higher than Back In Black. Back In Black also opened many international doors for AC/DC, allowing them to make their first tour of Japan, among other locales. During live performances of “Hell’s Bells,” a giant bell bearing AC/DC’s logo is lowered from the ceiling, and Johnson traditionally swings from the rope hanging down from the clapper.