After five albums throughout the 1970s, AC/DC would cap the decade with their breakthrough album Highway to Hell.
Produced by Robert “Mutt” Lange, the album was released internationally in July 1979, then in America about a week later and finally in their native Australia in November, where it would hit the top twenty. It peaked in the same position on the U.S. albums charts, but would turn out to be the band’s break into the US top 100, as the album would peak at number 17 there, going on to sell over eight million copies worldwide. Three singles were released from Highway to Hell, and they included the title track (which charted in the top fifty), “Girls Got Rhythm” and “Touch Too Much”.
Sadly, AC/DC’s breakthrough album would be the last with frontman Bon Scott, as he died from acute alcohol poisoning in February 1980, seven months after Highway to Hell had hit shelves. At the time, the band was at work on the follow-up, which would eventually become Back in Black. Five years later, the album momentarily ran into some controversy, as the album’s closer “Night Prowler” became connected to serial killer Richard Ramirez, responsible for several murders in Los Angeles. Ramirez was a fan of AC/DC, and the song “Night Prowler”, and the title was allegedly his nickname (except with the word “stalker” in place of “prowler”). The news brought protests from L.A. parents at AC/DC concerts, but the controversy was since quelled, as with the murderous connotation brought on by the Ramirez rampage.
Highway to Hell has been regarded as AC/DC’s three biggest selling albums, along with Back to Black and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (released in midst of the success of Highway to Hell). Ii was also ranked as one of the 500 greatest albums of all time, according to Rolling Stone, and as it being Bon Scott’s last album with AC/DC before his passing, helped secured his legacy in rock history.