Had this actually happened, it would have gone down as a blunder on par with Decca Records famously passing on a chance to record the then-emerging Beatles in 1962. Wee Aussie brawlers AC/DC were apparently in danger of being dropped from Atlantic Records just prior to the release of their 1977 album Let There Be Rock.
In an interview with Classic Rock Magazine, Phil Carson, the exec who got AC/DC signed to the label, revealed, "They'd delivered [1976's] Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, which I thought was pretty good. But the Atlantic A&R department [in the U.S.] said, 'We're sorry, but this album doesn't make it. We're not gonna put it out and we're dropping the band.' And everybody was unanimous in this, by the way — everybody."
Carson continued, "I said: 'I think you're making a very big mistake.' So I went to Neshui [Ertegun, co-owner of Atlantic] and showed him the sales figures that we'd got for [1976's] High Voltage. They were not awe-inspiring but considering we'd only paid $25,000 for the album, this was not so bad."
Ertegun agreed with Carson and allowed him to re-sign the band. ("Thank God I did,” Carson adds). Three years later, they became one of the biggest bands on the planet with the release of 1980's Back in Black, which has sold a staggering 49 million copies worldwide and continues to tally new sales in the tens of thousands annually to this day.
To put in even sharper perspective how much of a catastrophic near-miss that decision was, consider this: In 2009 the Recording Industry Association of America upgraded the group's overall U.S. sales figures from 69 million to 71 million, making AC/DC the fifth-best-selling band in that country’s history.
The RIAA also certified Back in Black as double Diamond (20 million copies sold) in U.S. sales, and by 2007 the album had sold 22 million copies, which moved it into fifth place. Do the math on that sucker. Presumably, Mr Carson got a very sweet package upon retiring.
Meanwhile, Blabbermouth notes that AC/DC singer Brian Johnson revealed last month that unspecified health issues for a different, unidentified member of AC/DC were delaying the start of work on the band's next album, although he added that a "full recovery" was expected.