Black Cat In The Cradle

Inevitably, their departed vocalist dominated the band’s thoughts until after the funeral. And, at that time, Malcolm and Angus pulled themselves together, and got down to the task of finding themselves a worthy replacement. According to magazine articles, the likely candidates were Ex-Easybeats front man Stevie Wright, Fat Lip’s Alan Fryer (who later joined Heaven with Mark Evans on guitars an Michael Browning as Manager), and Londoner Gary Holton. Fryer was seriously considered by the band, but was rejected. By the spring of 1980, the finalists were veteran singer Terry Schlesser and British band Geordie’s singer Brian “Jonna” Johnson.

The latter was the favored choice at the time, so AC/DC spent a long time trying to track him down. Johnson wasn’t too excited about the offer at first because he was busy trying to put his band Geordie back together. But he took time out to audition, running through two numbers, namely AC/DC’s own “Whole Lotta Rosie” and Ike and Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits”. On April 1st 1980, Brian Johnson was officially AC/DC’s new front man.

With Brian in the band, AC/DC wasted no time in getting to work with the new singer. They flew over to the Bahamas to work on their new album with “Mutt” Lange again. The album, titled “Back In Black” in Bon’s memory, was completed by the end of May. And on July 2, Brian made his debut appearance onstage with the band at Arlon in Belgium. AC/DC fans openly accepted him. On July 31st, “Back In Black” hit the streets. Within a week it topped the UK charts and in November it peaked at number 4 in the US charts. AC/DC were hot news.

On July 30th, the band started touring massively. AC/DC started off in the US, then moved on to Britain, made a triumphant return to Australia, and finished the tour successfully in Japan. They were now a worldwide phenomenon. Even better was the fact that everywhere they went, fans supported Brian, and open heartedly accepted him.

By the beginning of the New Year, the band had sold almost 10 million copies of “Back In Black” in the US alone. The chart topping album had generated two top 40 singles in the UK, namely “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”. AC/DC took a small break and headed out to tour America once again. In May, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” finally gained a US release, where it charted as number 3. Followed by the album’s release was a lawsuit against the band for $250,000. A couple in Liberty Ville, Illinois claimed that AC/DC had given out their phone number on the title track and were therefore responsible for a string of obscene calls they’d received. The couples number was 362 436 which was mentioned by Bon in the lyrics.

The US tour proved to be both tiring yet exhilarating. And in June the band got some recognition, when Angus was pictured on the cover of the very first issue of Kerrang! and readers’ poll showed that “Whole Lotta Rosie” was the greatest heavy metal track of all time.