February 1, 2010 / 3:36 AM / 10 years ago

Hard rockers AC/DC finally win a Grammy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Anglo-Australian rockers AC/DC won the first Grammy of their career on Sunday, ending one of the most notable snubs by the music industry’s top awards.

AC/DC lead vocalist Brian Johnson performs in Rosemont, Illinois October 30, 2008. REUTERS/John Gress

The band won the best hard rock performance statuette for the song “War Machine,” beating past winners Metallica and Linkin Park as well as Nickelback and Alice in Chains.

But its latest CD “Black Ice” lost the best rock album race to Green Day’s “21st Century Breakdown.”

“I love AC/DC,” Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong told reporters. “If it wasn’t for (AC/DC guitarist) Angus (Young), I wouldn’t be playing guitar. But no, I don’t feel bad for them.”

AC/DC was not present at the Staples Centre to bask in the glory. It is currently touring New Zealand as part of the “Black Ice” world tour that kicked off in the United States in October 2008. Its album of the same name, its first release in almost seven years, has sold 6.7 million copies worldwide.

Compatriot Keith Urban was surprised to hear of its victory. “About time,” the country star told reporters after he also won an award.

AC/DC did not get its first Grammy nomination until 1991 when its album “The Razors Edge” was cited in the two-year-old hard rock performance category. It lost to Living Colour. A handful of nominations dribbled in over the ensuing years, although the band’s recorded output had slowed by then.

During AC/DC’s heyday in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Grammy voters largely ignored rock music and especially its harder offshoots. In 1980, when AC/DC released what would turn out to be one of the biggest records of all time, “Back in Black,” the Grammys showered statuettes on Christopher Cross and Bob Seger.

The band, which formed in Australia in 1973, has largely ignored prevailing musical trends to churn out a familiar diet of songs powered by blues-based guitar riffs and lyrics laced with double entendres.

Original singer Bon Scott, the voice behind such classics as “Highway to Hell” and “Let There Be Rock,” died of alcohol poisoning in 1980 and was replaced within weeks by Brian Johnson. The group has long traded on the mythology built around lead guitarist Angus Young who dresses like a schoolboy, but his low-profile older brother Malcolm on rhythm guitar is considered the group’s musical force.

Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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