AC/DC members recall making “Hells Bells” in YouTube video celebrating 40th anniversary of ‘Back in Black’

With this Saturday, July 25, marking the 40th anniversary of AC/DC‘s massively successful Back in Black album, the Australian rockers recently launched a YouTube video series looking at the story behind the making of the record.

The second and latest episode of the series focuses on the album’s lead track, “Hells Bells.” The clip features archival interviews with AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson and late guitarist Malcolm Young recalling how the song came together while the band was working on the album in The Bahamas.

Johnson remembers that he and producer Mutt Lange came up with the song’s first line during a thunder storm on the island.

“I remember that day. It was miserable. I mean, black as the ace of spades,” Brian points out. “[A]nd it’d just started thundering right that minute. No lie…and [Mutt] went, ‘Oh, rolling thunder!’ And it started raining, and I went, ‘Pouring rain.’ And he went, ‘There you go!'”

Johnson also credits Malcolm and his brother, AC/DC lead guitarist Angus Young, with coming up with the idea to put a loud tolling bell sound at the beginning of the track.

In a separate interview segment, Malcolm says he’d gone out in back of the studio to urinate around the time that he and Angus had been discussing the song’s intro.

As he recalls, with a laugh, “I was just taking a p***, and [I thought,] ‘Hang on. Why don’t we get a big f****** bell?!”

Back in Black was AC/DC’s first album following the 1979 death of singer Bon Scott, and its first to feature Johnson. The album only reached #4 on the Billboard 200, but it’s gone on to become the fourth best-selling album in U.S. history, amassing sales of more than 25 million copies.

By Matt Friedlander
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