AC/DC has taken to social media to address the circumstances surrounding singer Brian Johnson’s exit from the band.
Bassist Cliff Williams and guitarist Angus Young, along with GUNS N’ ROSES frontman Axl Rose, who is filling in for Brian, filmed a one-minute video explaining why Johnson had decided to step down as AC/DC’s lead singer.
“You get a lot of rumors out there; a lot of people think Brian was fired. [But] that’s not the case,” Angus said.
“It was mainly his hearing. He already had a very bad ear, and the good ear that he had left was dropping rapidly. I mean, it was an ongoing [issue]… all the way pretty much through the tour from the beginning.”
Cliff elaborated: “He had an instance where there was a marked drop in that one good ear and it came back, but not completely. The doc told him this can happen again and it may not come back. So, you know, you kind of… What do you do with that?”
Angus added that the decision to have Brian replaced for the upcoming tour “was out of our hands,” insisting that “it was [Brian‘s] call what he felt” the best way to proceed was.
“We wouldn’t win in a lot of situations because if we just stopped, there would have been a lot of people unhappy.”
Rose will make his debut with AC/DC on a 12-show European leg starting on Saturday, May 7 in Lisbon, Portugal.
“It’s a horrible thing [what happened to Brian],” said Axl. “And you hope that he gets better.
“I’m not dancing around about this, because it’s not like, okay, somebody said they’re gonna go do something else. It’s because of an unfortunate circumstance. And that’s something I’m very aware of.”
In a separate video, Axl spoke about the challenge of replacing Brian for the upcoming shows.
“‘Back In Black’ is the highest-selling rock album of all time, so it’s, like, you’d be measured a lot singing. And there’s nothing I can… I can’t take anything away from Brian’s singing. It is what it is. It’s, like, he’s one of the rock singers.
“And how many albums have they got? I have a couple. It’s, like, I have a couple [laughs], and they have a stack.”
Rose admitted that he didn’t know if he could do the shows or not. He explained: “For one, it was scheduling. Two, it’s, like, just how they do things; I didn’t know. Would it work? Would we get along? That kind of thing. And also just the material itself. I hadn’t fully listened to certain things. I think in a car or whatever, you can sing part of ‘Back In Black’, but I never tried to sing the songs fully. I’d sing a little bit of ‘Shoot To Thrill’, but you always knew it was a really tough song to sing. And I never tried to do it professionally or learn the thing. So, yeah, it’s a challenge, and I wanna do right by the band and the fans.”
Axl also talked about what it has been like rehearsing with AC/DC for the past few weeks.
“There’s no audience in their rehearsals and they’re a freight train,” he said. “I mean, they rehearse and the first day or [rehearsals], it’s, like, ‘See you at the end,’ and the song starts, and then it’s a freight train.
“The rehearsals… it’s been really, really cool. It’s like now I know the benefits of rehearsals for the first time in my life. [Laughs]”
As previously reported, approximately 7,000 AC/DC fans who bought tickets to see the band on May 16 in Werchter, Belgium have asked for refunds, although those tickets have apparently since been resold.
A spokesperson for AC/DC told TeamRock that the band was not obligated to offer refunds, explaining: “The band made a decision to offer this. As they care about their fans and wanted to do right by them, they instructed local promoters to offer refunds.”
Johnson was forced to stop touring for now or risk going deaf, with AC/DC immediately beginning a search for a vocalist to complete the European shows and the rescheduled North American dates later in the year.