Brian Johnson is officially done with AC/DC. The Aussie rock band has replaced Brian Johnson with Gun ‘N Roses frontman Axl Rose, and while Johnson’s hearing loss is reportedly the reason for the switch, it sounds like there could be much more to the story.
AC/DC made the official announcement about Brian Johnson’s departure on the band’s official website, ACDC.com, revealing that Rose will replace the rock legend for the remainder of their tour. But the message also makes it clear that the band’s nearly 40-year partnership with Brian Johnson is done.
“AC/DC band members would like to thank Brian Johnson for his contributions and dedication to the band throughout the years. We wish him all the best with his hearing issues and future ventures. As much as we want this tour to end as it started, we understand, respect and support Brian’s decision to stop touring and save his hearing. We are dedicated to fulfilling the remainder of our touring commitments to everyone that has supported us over the years, and are fortunate that Axl Rose has kindly offered his support to help us fulfill this commitment.”
While Brian Johnson has not yet commented on his replacement, it has already been reported that he said things didn’t go down exactly like the band would like fans to believe.
Brian Johnson’s longtime friend, comedian Jim Breuer, recently revealed that the longtime AC/DC singer’s hearing issues were overblown by the band and that Brian said he feels that he was unfairly “kicked to the curb.”
The rock website Consequence of Sound posted a podcast in which Breuer says Brian Johnson told him that after doctors gave him the news about his hearing, he called the band and told them he wanted to figure out how to handle it.
“He said that he called and let [the band] know, ‘Hey this is what the doctor said, but let’s try to figure this out.’ [Brian] didn’t say he wanted to quit. He didn’t say he was done. He called with that information, and two days later, he read in the papers and heard on Twitter and everywhere else, ‘Brian Johnson going deaf, canceling tour.’ A day later, and it was ‘Oh, we’re gonna have guest singers.’ “
Johnson’s friend even revealed that the AC/DC singer received a second opinion and was told the damage to his hearing wasn’t as bad as he was initially led to believe. But unfortunately, the band had already made another decision, one that didn’t include Johnson.
“Then he’s like, ‘You know what? I would really like to finish and do some shows. I think we can knock this out.’ Then all his luggage that he toured with showed up at his driveway. There’s been no calls. No, ‘How’s your hearing? How’s your health? What’s going on?’ Boom. Here’s your s**t, nice to know you.’ “
But why would AC/DC part ways with Johnson, whose voice has been the signature sound of the hard rock band since 1980, if they didn’t have to? Why would they not let him finish up the Rock or Bust Tour if he was willing? According to Breuer, Johnson told him that younger AC/DC founder Angus Young wants the iconic band to continue for another decade, so replacing Brian Johnson now would ensure that those plans don’t derail.
“[Angus] wants to write another album and do one more tour,” Breuer said. “Who’s filling those shoes? How do you do that after 40 years? It’s just really weird.”
Brian’s friend also added that Johnson is feeling “really depressed” and like a “hired gun” who has been “kicked to the curb.”
Of course, reaction to the replacement of Brian Johnson has been mixed, to say the least. Even radio legend Eddie Trunk has questioned what really happened with Johnson.
Axl singing with AC/DC? Sounds fun if you ask me!! Replacing Brian Johnson? Never, they're just playing dates to avoid massive refunds!— Jeff Scott Soto (@jeffscottsoto) April 17, 2016
can't wait to see axl rose replacing the lead singer of ac/dc. said no one ever— gavin overfield (@GavinOverfield) April 17, 2016
I noticed that Axl Rose is trending. Thought he died, but no, it's just saying that he's the new lead singer of AC/DC. I think that's worse.— Nutella and Chris (@HeyItsChris412) April 17, 2016
Happy for @axlrose to have this opportunity with heroes of his. But I still want to know what really went on with Brian Johnson...— Eddie Trunk (@EddieTrunk) April 17, 2016
AC/DC will kick off the Rock Or Bust World Tour European stadium dates with Axl Rose starting May 7 in Lisbon, Portugal. The 10 previously postponed U.S shows will be rescheduled and announced at a future date, but they definitely won’t be with Brian Johnson.
Take a look at the video below to hear Brian Johnson talking about the reasons for his hearing loss. (Hint: It didn’t happen the way you’d think).
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]