BRIAN JOHNSON couldn't watch AXL ROSE perform with AC/DC
'I'm told that he did a great job'
Brian Johnson says that he couldn’t bring himself to watch Axl Rose filling in for him at the end of AC/DC‘s “Rock Or Bust” tour.
AC/DC postponed the last 10 dates of its spring 2016 North American trek after Johnson was advised to stop playing live or “risk total hearing loss.” The band went on to complete the European and North American legs of its “Rock Or Bust” tour with the GUNS N’ ROSES frontman as a “guest vocalist.” At the time, Johnson had been AC/DC‘s singer for 36 years, ever since replacing the late Bon Scott in 1980 and making his debut on the classic “Back In Black” album.
According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Johnson writes in his autobiography “The Lives Of Brian” that he has never seen any of the widely circulated videos of Rose‘s performances in the band.
“I’m told that he did a great job,” Johnson said, “but I just couldn’t watch — especially when you’ve been doing it for 35 years. It’s like finding a stranger in your house, sitting in your favorite chair. But I bear no grudges. It was a tough situation. [AC/DC guitarist and co-founder] Angus [Young] and the lads did what they felt they had to do. That said, after the band released a statement confirming that I was leaving the tour and wishing me all the best for the future, I couldn’t relax or concentrate on anything. It was just always there.
“Part of the pain of it was that I blamed myself,” he admitted. “For most of my career, I’d been in the loudest band in the world. I’d flown constantly. I’d flown even when I knew I wasn’t well.
“For a while, people would ask me if I was depressed, but depression is treatable. My hearing loss wasn’t. What I was feeling wasn’t depression. It was something closer to despair.”
Johnson also wrote about the circumstances that led to his decision to withdraw from AC/DC‘s tour nearly seven years ago.
“I called Tim, the tour manager, on my mobile right there in the room to tell him that I just couldn’t continue,” Johnson said. “It was one of the most difficult conversations of my life — the pain of it made worse over the weeks that followed when the tour simply went on without me. It was a sheer cliff. I didn’t tumble down, I was in free fall.”
I’ve had some long nights and some great nights, bad days and a lot of good ones. Now I’ve gone and written a bloody book about it… The Lives of Brian is coming this October. Pre-order your copy now: https://t.co/57hrcxliZ2 pic.twitter.com/KEi6gJdpQ6— Brian Johnson Racing (@BrianJohnson) September 5, 2022
Johnson joined AC/DC in 1980 after the death of previous lead singer Bon Scott.
His first album with the band, “Back In Black”, went on to become the biggest-selling rock album of all time.
After a quarter century of platinum albums and record-breaking tours, he was forced to quit the band in 2016 after being diagnosed with hearing loss, but made a triumphant return in 2020 with the release of “Power Up”, which went to No.1 in 21 countries. A successful competitive vintage racing car driver, Johnson has more recently enjoyed acclaim as the charismatic presenter of television shows “Cars That Rock With Brian Johnson” and “Brian Johnson: A Life Of The Road”.
“I’ve had some long nights and some great nights, some bad days and a lot of good days, and during that time I’ve gone from choirboy to rock ‘n’ roll singer, and now I’ve gone and written a bloody book about it,” says Johnson.
“Brian‘s memoir captures an unforgettable moment in rock history. Anyone who wants to understand Brian‘s roots as well as the moment of ignition when he joined AC/DC and helped create a monster album will be in for an unforgettable ride,” says Dey Street Books SVP and executive editor Mauro DiPreta.
Rowland White says: “From growing up in the north-east, the son of a former British army sergeant-major and an Italian mother, to fronting world’s biggest rock band, ‘The Lives Of Brian’ tells one of the best stories in music in Brian‘s own inimitable voice. His life has been a roller coaster of highs and lows during which success as a musician too often felt out of reach. But even when it seemed defeat had been snatched from the jaws of victory he never gave up. And throughout his feet have remained firmly planted on the ground. Warm, vivid, evocative, life-affirming and often laugh-out-loud funny, ‘The Lives Of Brian’ is a gold standard rock ‘n’ roll memoir from one of our most well-loved performers. Brian‘s one of a kind and I couldn’t be more proud to be publishing his book.”
Johnson was born to a steelworker and WWII veteran father and an Italian mother, growing up in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, a working-class town. He was musically inclined and sang with the church choir. By the early ’70s, he performed with the glam rock band GEORDIE, and they had a couple hits, but it was tough going. So tough that by 1976, they disbanded and Brian turned to a blue-collar life.
Then 1980 changed everything. Bon Scott, the lead singer and lyricist of the Australian rock band AC/DC died at 33. The band auditioned singers, among them Johnson, whom Scott himself had seen perform and raved about. Within days, Johnson was in a studio with the band, working with founding members Angus and Malcolm Young, Cliff Williams and Phil Rudd, along with producer Mutt Lange.
When the album, “Back In Black”, was released in July — a mere three months after Johnson had joined the band — it exploded, going on to sell 50 million copies worldwide, and triggering a years-long worldwide tour. It has been declared “the biggest-selling hard rock album ever made” and “the best-selling heavy-metal album in history.”
The band toured the world for a full year to support the album, changing the face of rock music — and Johnson‘s life — forever.
Touching, personal, indomitable, but always laugh-out-loud funny, “The Lives Of Brian” is the story of one of the world’s best-loved performers, told in his own inimitable and unique voice.