What’s 40 years versus eternity, right? On July 27th, 1979, a few gritty, afflicted and absolutely gifted musicians released a track that would alter the course of their personal lives and the musical landscape in which they were traveling. The result? AC/DC’s Highway to Hell.
By changing their lineup, bringing in Robert John “Mutt” Lange, and using their new producer’s superior style to their advantage, AC/DC was ready to release a new album and seemed destined to grow into their upcoming fame. Opening with its leading track, Highway to Hell was tailored for the audience that had already been captivated with KISS, Cheap Trick, and the Ramones. Unfortunately, this was AC/DC’s last LP with Bon Scott before he passed the following February from alcohol poisoning.
Although “Back in Black” helped establish the band ‘s place in rock history in 1980, AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” was an electrifying album with the public’s favor propelling it forward. Whether you love them or love to hate them, there’s no denying that AC/DC has impacted countless people’s lives.
Here are what some artists had to say about the impact “Highway to Hell” had on their personal and musical journeys:
“AC/DC kicks ass. When I was 16 years old, I got into some trouble with the law and the court shipped me off to a camp for bad boys in northern Montana for six months to correct my behavior. I landed in Kalispell, Montana in the dead of winter and was picked up by a grizzly looking mountain man in a snowstorm. We got in the truck and “Highway to Hell” was the first thing on the radio all the way to the ranch, and the last song I heard for six whole months. I’ve never gone that long without hearing a song, and that was in my head the whole time. AC/DC kicks ass. That song helped me get through that whole experience.” – Jared Swilley, Black Lips
“AC/DC is like a gateway drug to rock n’ roll. They never sold out, they never strayed from their sound and they somehow continue to reincarnate in more bombastic ways than ever. And that pick slide in Highway to Hell is why I play guitar. We salute you!!!” – Whitney Petty, Thunderpussy
“I was a punk in the early ’70s, and because a lot of the “rock” kids in my school were into AC/DC I kind of wrote them off as some rock or metal type of band. It wasn’t ’til later that I realized that AC/DC were way more punk than most punk bands could ever be. Years later, touring in Japan with The Exploited, Discharge, GBH and Charlie Harper (UK Subs) was also on the bus, when the question “what was the best gig you ever saw” went around the bus, the unanimous answer, out of the mouths of Wattie from the Exploited, all of GBH, Discharge and Charlie Harper was AC/DC!!! I shit you not!!! I think that puts some perspective on things, doesn’t it? This was an absolute landmark album in so many ways and they are such a classic band, and this lineup was a life-changing force on earth, and we must thank them. You can put it on any day or night — anytime and feel gooooood.” – Harley Flanagan, Cro-Mags
“Highway to Hell: I can easily write something in depth, collegiate, and introspective about this record. How it had shaped my artistry and changed the evolution of rock n’ roll etc… but to be honest, listening to this record was the first time in my life I ever listened to music and was honest to god turned on! Finally, I realized what it meant to play music from a completely primal place, and I knew right then and there I wanted to be able to create that feeling in everyone who listened to my music too! For it is equally as important to evoke that feeling as it is to inspire creativity. But plain and simple, listening to “Touch Too Much” I felt like I could handle anything – like I was on top of the world (not a feeling I experience too often in my life).” – Veronica Swift
Face the Music Foundation agrees wholeheartedly with these sentiments. Happy belated 40th birthday to AC/DC’s Highway to Hell.