10 songs that ended an era... or began a new one

25 July 2020, 20:00 | Updated: 25 July 2020, 20:01

AC/DC: Bon Scott and Brian Johnson
AC/DC: Bon Scott and Brian Johnson. Picture: Dick Barnatt/Redferns/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

40 years ago, AC/DC released Back In Black after the death of singer Bon Scott. How would they fare with a new singer?

Music is all about change, or flux. Band members come, band members go. Styles change, singers lose the plot, drummers take up gardening instead. Radio X looks at some of the great milestones in music.

  1. AC/DC - Back In Black

    Bon Scott had been singing with Acca Dacca since 1974 and guided them through some of their biggest hits. When he died after choking on his own vomit after a night out in London on 19 February 1980, the group had to carry on. The band considered calling it a day, but Scott's parents insisted that their son would have wanted them to continue. When they returned later that year with new singer Brian Johnson, the mood was suitably sombre. The album, titled Back In Black, went on to sell over 50 million copies.

  2. Foo Fighters - This Is A Call

    April 1994: Kurt Cobain is found dead in his Seattle home. October 1994: Dave Grohl ventures into a studio in Shoreline, Washington to record fifteen tracks. A new band was born and the Nirvana drummer stepped out to front of stage to become one of rock's most charismatic frontmen.

  3. New Order - Ceremony

    When singer Ian Curtis took his own life in May 1980, it was the end for Joy Division. The band had agreed that if any member left, the name would be retired, so a few months later the surviving members re-emerged as New Order and, in February 1981, their debut single Ceremony hit the shops - one of the last songs written during their previous incarnation.

  4. Blur - Popscene

    Following the divided critical reaction to the band's debut album Leisure in 1991, the lads from Colchester went back to the drawing board and dropped the "baggy" sound, had a sensible haircut and plotted the idea of Britpop. This standalone single came between the debut and Modern Life Is Rubbish - this was Blur beginning to find themselves.

  5. Queen - These Are The Days Of Our Lives

    An unbearably poignant ballad recorded as frontman Freddie Mercury battled with AIDS. It was released as a double A-side with the perennial Bohemian Rhapsody following Mercury's death on 24 November 1991, with the video documenting his final performance on camera.

  6. PiL - Public Image

    He was formerly "Johnny Rotten", but when the Sex Pistols collapsed in disarray following their one and only US tour, he reverted back to his real name John Lydon and formed a new band, Public Image Limited. The debut single was an entertaining rant at Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren: "I will not be treated as property!"

  7. The Smiths - Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me

    The last single to be taken from the final Smiths album, Strangeways Here We Come, this was a suitably maudlin end to a brief but fabulous career.

  8. The Style Council - Speak Like A Child

    Paul Weller announced his intention to split The Jam in 1982, so all eyes were on his next move. The latter Jam singles had a Motown/soul flavour so it was no surprise when the first single from his new project The Style Council followed suit. Speak Like A Child made Number 4 in the UK charts in March 1983 and ensured Weller's continued success.

  9. John Lennon - God

    "I don't believe in Beatles / I just believe in me." The former Fab's debut solo album proper was an angry affair, spawned by the musician's experimentation with "primal scream" therapy. Over the course of the LP, he railed against his parents, the class system and society before winding up and taking a pop at religion on this song, climaxing by denouncing the very band that made him famous. And they never did get back together.

  10. Manic Street Preachers - A Design For Life

    "Libraries gave us power / Then work came and made us free." After Richey Edwards went missing in February 1995, the remaining members of the Manics regrouped and started again. This was the first single to be taken from the resulting album Everything Must Go - a song that is became a kind of a mission statement for the band.