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Which AC/DC era sold more records: Bon Scott or Brian Jonhson



Which AC/DC era sold more records: Bon Scott or Brian Jonhson

AC/DC was formed by the brothers Angus and Malcolm Young in Australia back in 1973 becoming years later one of the biggest bands in the world. They are one of the few bands who went through a tragedy with the loss of their classic singer Bon Scott in 1980 at the age of 33 and were able to continue to be successful even with a new singer, which was Brian Johnson.


Like every band that had more than one successful era, there are many AC/DC fans who loved both of them or that prefer Bon’s time with the band, for example. But when it comes to record sales, which era sold more copies? With Bon Scott or Brian Johnson? AC/DC is one of the best-selling bands of all time with an estimated amount of more than 200 million records sold all over the world.

Which AC/DC era sold more records: Bon Scott or Brian Jonhson

The late vocalist Bon Scott joined AC/DC as their singer in 1974 and seven studio albums were released with him as the singer. The first two: “High Voltage” (1975) and “T.N.T.” (1975) were only released in Australia. So the third also called “High Voltage” released internationally in 1976, was a mix of those first two records.

AC/DC’s career has many classic albums like “Powerage” (1978), “Highway To Hell” (1979), “Back In Black” (1980) and “The Razors Edge” (1990). Both eras are equally important for Hard Rock history. But as might be expected, Brian Johnson’s era sold three times more copies than Bon Scott’s era. Not only for having more albums recorded, but of course, for the absolute success of “Back In Black”, which alone sold more than two times what the Bon Scott era had sold. Those numbers don’t count live albums or collections, we’ve only considered studio albums.

The AC/DC album sales with Bon Scott:

  • “High Voltage” (1975 – Australia only) – More than 350 thousand copies sold
  • “T.N.T.” (1975 – Australia only) – More than 600 thousand copies sold
  • “High Voltage” (1976) – More than 4 million copies sold
  • “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” (1976) – More than 7 million copies sold
  • “Let There Be Rock” (1977) – More than 3 million copies sold
  • “Powerage” (1978) – More than 1 million copies sold
  • “Highway to Hell” (1979) – More than 9 million copies sold

Total: More than 25 million copies sold worldwide

Alongside Angus Young, Bon Scott became the face of AC/DC in the 70s and his vocals and lyrics were crucial to make the band so unique. Some of the biggest hits from his era are “Highway to Hell”, “Let There Be Rock”, “T.N.T.” and “It’s a Long Way To The Top”. Although the band already has many hits with Brian Johnson on vocals they still perform many songs from Scott’s era.

The extremely successful start of Brian Jonhson’s era

It’s usually really difficult for a band to overcome the death of an important member such as the vocalist, since it was his voice on all the famous albums released. But AC/DC is probably the biggest example that it is possible to be even more successful with a new singer. The reason is that Brian Johson’s debut “Back in Black” released in 1980 not only became their best-selling album, but one of the best-selling of all time. So it’s not only the opportunity of making many more albums (11 so far) with AC/DC that made Johnson’s era be the one that sold more records. Also is the quality of those albums.

The AC/DC album sales with Brian Johnson:

  • “Back in Black” (1980) – More than 50 million copies sold
  • “For Those About to Rock We Salute You” (1981) – More than 5 million copies sold
  • “Flick of the Switch” (1983) – More than 1 million copies sold
  • “Fly on the Wall” (1985) – More than 1 million copies sold
  • “Blow Up Your Video” (1988) – More than 1 million copies sold
  • “The Razors Edge” (1990) – More than 7 million copies sold
  • “Ballbreaker” (1995) – More than 3 million copies sold
  • “Stiff Upper Lip” (2000) – More than 2 million copies sold
  • “Black Ice” (2008) – More than 8 million copies sold
  • “Rock or Bust” (2014) – More than 2 million copies sold
  • “Power Up” (2020) – More than 1 million copies sold

Total: More than 81 million copies sold

Curiously, the second best-selling album of Johnson’s era, which is also the third best-selling album of their career is “Black Ice” released in 2008. It performed really well since it was a time where file sharing was already common and was affecting record sales. Besides being their first album in eight years, it had many hits like “Rock N’ Roll Train’ and the title-track. It was also boosted by the movie “Iron Man 2” (2010), since it had the track “War Machine”, besides many other AC/DC classics.

The record sales numbers were taken from Best Selling Albums. The website compiles the numbers based on certifications received all over the world.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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