A bit of trivia: the final words of the last song on the last AC/DC album recorded with Bon Scott were inspired by Robin Williams. Rather, a character Williams once played.
Highway to Hell is the sixth studio album released by the hard rock band known affectionately in their native Australia as Acca/Dacca. Shortly after the album’s release, Bon Scott was dead. Alcohol poisoning. It could be argued that Scott literally partied himself to death.
Whatever opinions there are, the music review website Allmusic.com puts it this way: “In light of [Scott’s] passing, it’s hard not to see Highway to Hell as a last testament of sorts, being that it was his last work and all, and if Scott was going to go out in a blaze of glory, this certainly was the way to do it. This is a veritable rogue’s gallery of deviance, from cheerfully clumsy sex talk and drinking anthems to general outlandish behavior.”
Right from the start – just as the band began recording the album – AC/DC’s record company hated the title Highway to Hell. “They wanted us to change it,” guitarist Angus Young says in VH1’s Behind the Music. “I said ‘hogwash. We’re calling it that and that’s the way it is.’”
Many rumors to the origins of the title track’s lyrics are floating around. From the obvious: being inspired by life on the road – to the surreal: the band members being devil worshippers. One rumor has it that Bon Scott foresaw his own death and that inspired the lyrics. Whichever is true, the band’s hard rocking lifestyle is reflected in the lyrics: “Playing in a rocking band / Hey Momma, look at me / I’m on my way to the promised land / I’m on the highway to hell.”
The final track has caused much controversy and had given AC/DC some bad publicity. In mid-1985, a highly publicized murder case began revolving around Richard Ramírez – the “Night Stalker”, a notorious serial killer. Ramírez claimed to be a fan of AC/DC, particularly of the album’s last song, “Night Prowler.” Concerned parents picketed and protested at AC/DC concerts. In the VH1 documentary, second guitarist and Angus’ older brother Malcolm said, “[The song is] actually about a boy sneaking into his girlfriend’s bedroom while her parents are asleep.”
The rest of the album is an eclectic mix of hits and misses, but all contain AC/DC’s signature rock’n’roll sound. Among them “Girls Got Rhythm”, “Touch Too Much” and “Shot Down in Flames.” In 2006, Highway to Hell was certified 7x Platinum by the RIAA, a significant feat. Three years earlier, the album was ranked number 199 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Oh, those final words? “Shazbot, nanu nanu!” Bon Scott was reportedly a fan of Robin Williams. The words were made famous by Williams’ TV character, Mork, from Mork and Mindy.