AC/DC

Australia's minimalist, Hard Rock answer to the over-inflated character of 70s Stadium Rock and Art Rock, AC/DC formed in 1973 with brothers Malcolm and Angus Young handling guitar duties. Stripping back their sound to the Rock and Roll basics, and eschewing the glam stylings and theatrics favored by some Hard Rock acts, the brothers left a wide-open space for the larynx-ripping vocal stylings of Bon Scott. The spare but heavy quality of what they created is reminiscent of Free's infectious "All Right Now," a song that managed to be lean, rocking, and ready for the pop charts without ever sacrificing its power.

After recording several albums, the group had its first million-seller with 1979's Highway To Hell, featuring a hit song of the same name. Sadly, lead singer Scott died following a night of hard drinking (police listed "acute alcohol poisoning" as the cause) before the group could follow it up. Replacing Scott with Brian Johnson, who may as well have studied under Scott given his mastery of the singer's style, the band carried on, hitting a new peak with their follow-up, Back in Black. Produced by Robert "Mutt" Lange, the record became a juggernaut — with some 50 million copies sold to date, it's one of the best-selling records of all time.

While they're unlikely to top it, the band, which has adhered to its stripped-down formula as surely as Angus Young has stood by his trademark short-panted schoolboy outfit and Gibson SG guitar, has remained hugely popular worldwide; it's last record, 2008's "Black Ice," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went platinum in numerous countries.