Brian Johnson is less worried about his abbreviated reign as AC/DC’s lead singer than his fans are. In a Sirius Radio interview with automotive journalist Doron Levin, Johnson reflected on his storied career with the iconic hard rock band two months after doctors ordered him to stop touring or he would rock total loss of his hearing. In the interview, Johnson said people shouldn’t feel sorry for him just because his touring career was cut short due to his medical problems.
“What people don’t understand is, it is what it is,” Brian said. “It’s like a young sports player getting an injury. I feel sorry for them [when they’re] 24 or 25 and they have an injury and it ends their career, and it’s an awful thing. But I’m lucky. I’m 68 — I’m 69 later this year — and I’ve had a pretty good run. I’ve been in one of the best bands in the world.”
Johnson said his hearing issues worsened during the first part of AC/DC’s Rock or Bust tour and he explained that his bandmates saw his medical charts and were supportive of his decision to step down in order to try to save his hearing.
Brian Johnson says he doesn’t blame his bandmates for filling his spot with replacement singer Axl Rose they could finish out the previously scheduled tour for the fans, and he maintained a positive attitude even in the face his grim medical diagnosis.
“[The doctor] didn’t tell me I had cancer or something terminal,” Johnson said.
Johnson, a notorious car racing fan, revealed that his first hint at hearing loss came eight years ago when he forgot to put earplugs in when racing at a New York State track. Five minutes in, Brian felt “a little pop” in his ear and he suffered tinnitus for about six months afterwards. Fast forward to 2015, and Johnson got sick after a rainy outdoor gig in Winnipeg and hopped on a plane immediately after the show.
“Unfortunately, the fluids went up into my sinuses and around my ear,” Brian said.
Brian Johnson continued to tour and noticed his ear never “popped,” so he ultimately met with a specialist who gave him the bad news that he was losing the hearing in his good ear.
“I was getting worried because my right ear is my good ear,” Johnson said. “My left ear is just about totally deaf. And when we got there, that’s when Dr. Chang found out that the fluids had crystallized and had been eating away at my ear. So my good ear, I lost – I don’t know what percentage but it was enough to make things very difficult.”
Brian Johnson previously issued a lengthy statement regarding his departure from the Australian rock band. Rolling Stone posted Johnson’s entire statement in which the singer revealed that he was “personally crushed” by the fact that he can no longer tour with AC/DC. Brian revealed that he had consulted with top physicians in the field and was told that if he continued to perform in large venues he risked total deafness.
Johnson acknowledged that he had noticed that his partial hearing loss had already started to interfere with his performances and he didn’t want to disappoint fans with sub-par shows. Brian said that the day he made the decision to quit touring was “the darkest day” of his professional life.
But now that he has had time to digest the news, Brian Johnson is counting his lucky stars.
“I had so many good times with the boys and I’ve had such a lucky and great life, and I’m just thankful, really, that I came out of it in one piece,” Johnson said.
Check out the video below to see Brian Johnson performing with AC/DC.
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]