AC/DC are a hard rock band which formed in Sydney, Australia in 1973 (see 1973 in music) by brothers Angus and Malcolm Young. The band has sold over 150 million albums worldwide and over 68 million albums in the United States, making them one of the most successful hard rock acts ever. Their 1980 album, Back in Black, has sold 42 million units worldwide (21 million in the US alone), and is the second highest selling album of all time and the biggest selling album by any band. In their recording career, the band has had two distinctive lead singers; Bon Scott and then later, Brian Johnson. Therefore, fans tend to divide its history into the "Bon Scott era" (1974—80), and the "Brian Johnson era" (1980—present).
Although the group is generally considered to be a pioneer of hard rock and heavy metal music along with Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, the members have always referred to their music as "rock 'n' roll". The band also accept the description "hard rock" (they are ranked number 4 on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock"), but they find the "metal" description offensive. At one point they were known as a punk band, which AC/DC also disagreed with.
In 2005, the band finished second in a list of highest-earning entertainers from Australia —trailing only The Wiggles— despite neither releasing an album nor touring that year.
NANO IV ROCK!! Born in Glasgow, Scotland, brothers Angus, Malcolm and George Young moved, along with most of their family, to Sydney, Australia, in 1963, when they were all still young children. George began playing guitar first and became a member of Australia's most successful band during the 1960s —The Easybeats, who were the first local rock act to score an international hit ("Friday On My Mind" in 1966). Malcolm and Angus soon followed in his footsteps. Malcolm first played with a Newcastle, New South Wales band called The Velvet Underground (not to be confused with the New York based Velvet Underground, which featured Lou Reed).
In 1974, George Young and ex-Easybeats bandmate Harry Vanda were recording an album as the Marcus Hook Roll Band, called Tales Of Old Granddaddy, when they introduced Angus and Malcolm to a recording studio for the first time, and invited them to contribute to the album. It was following this session that Vanda & Young took the newly formed AC/DC into the studio, marking the beginning of hugely successful collaboration.
In 2002, Q magazine put AC/DC at the very top of the "50 Bands To See Before You Die" list.
In 2003, AC/DC have entered into a long-term, multi-album deal for new recordings, and released newly remastered AC/DC albums. These albums are a part of AC/DC's Remasters series, they contain expanded booklets with rare photographs, memorabilia, and notes. All the albums except Ballbreaker and Stiff Upper Lip were remastered in 2003; Ballbreaker was re-released in 2005, and Stiff Upper Lip will be re-released in 2010, although a remastered version was released in the UK.
In May 2003, Malcolm Young accepted a Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Service to Australian Music and paid special tribute to Bon Scott. That same year, the Recording Industry Association of America upgraded the group's US sales figures, increasing their cumulative sales from 46.5 million to 63 million, making AC/DC the fifth-best-selling band in US music history, behind The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and the Eagles. The RIAA also certified the classic Back in Black album as double diamond (20,000,000) US sales, making it the sixth-best-selling U.S. album in history. As of 2005, the album has sold 21 million copies, moving it into fifth place.
On July 30 of the same year, the band gave a performance with the Rolling Stones at Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto, in Toronto, Canada. Held before an audience of 500,000, the concert was held to help the city overcome the effects of the 2003 SARS epidemic. The concert currently holds the record for being the largest paid music event in North American history.
Angus and Malcolm Young claim that they first got the idea for the name after seeing the acronym "AC/DC" on the back of a sewing machine owned by their sister, Margaret Young. AC/DC is an abbreviation for "Alternating Current/Direct Current," indicating a device can be powered by either type of power source. The Young brothers liked the way that this name symbolized the band's raw energy and power-driven performances so the name stuck.
In some cultures, "AC/DC" is a slang term implying bisexuality. The band have said that they were initally unaware of this and that the public brought it to their attention.
Some religious figures have suggested that the name stood for "Anti-Christ/Devil's Children", "After Christ/Devil Comes" or "Anti Christ/Death to Christ;" the rumour has long persisted among critics who, already disliking the band's image, use it to paint the band as Satanists. The band has stated this is not true and has mocked these accusations, for example, Malcolm Young once said: "Me mum would kill me for that!"
The name AC/DC is pronounced one letter at a time, although the band is nicknamed "Acca Dacca" by its Australian fans. The name has inspired a rash of tribute bands, such as BC/DC, from the Canadian province of British Columbia; AC/DShe, an all-female group from San Francisco; Hayseed Dixie, an Appalachian band specializing in bluegrass covers.