Longtime AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson has issued a statement on his abrupt departure from the band’s lineup, explaining that his battle with hearing loss forced him to stop touring without completing the last 10 dates on the recent North American leg of the band’s world tour. His full statement read:
“As many AC/DC fans know, the remaining shows for the 2016 AC/DC ‘Rock Or Bust’ world tour, including 10 postponed U.S. shows, are being rescheduled with a guest singer. I want personally to explain the reason because I don’t believe the earlier press releases sufficiently set out what I wanted to say to our fans or the way in which I thought it should be presented.
“On March 7th, after a series of examinations by leading physicians in the field of hearing loss, I was advised that if I continue to perform at large venues, I risked total deafness. While I was horrified at the reality of the news that day, I had for a time become aware that my partial hearing loss was beginning to interfere with my performance on stage. I was having difficulty hearing the guitars on stage and because I was not able to hear the other musicians clearly, I feared the quality of my performance could be compromised. In all honesty, this was something I could not in good conscience allow. Our fans deserve my performance to be at the highest level, and if for any reason I can’t deliver that level of performance, I will not disappoint our fans or embarrass the other members of AC/DC. I am not a quitter and I like to finish what I start. Nevertheless, the doctors made it clear to me and my bandmates that I had no choice but to stop performing on stage for the remaining shows and possibly beyond. That was the darkest day of my professional life.
“Since that day, I have had several consultations with my doctors and it appears that, for the near future, I will be unable to perform on stage at arena- and stadium-size venues where the sound levels are beyond my current tolerance, without the risk of substantial hearing loss and possibly total deafness. Until that time, I tried as best as I could to continue despite the pain and hearing loss but it all became too much to bear and too much to risk.
“I am personally crushed by this development more than anyone could ever imagine. The emotional experience I feel now is worse than anything I have ever in my life felt before. Being part of AC/DC, making records and performing for the millions of devoted fans this past 36 years has been my life’s work. I cannot imagine going forward without being part of that, but for now I have no choice. The one thing for certain is that I will always be with AC/DC at every show in spirit, if not in person. Most importantly, I feel terrible having to disappoint the fans who bought tickets for the canceled shows and who have steadfastly supported me and AC/DC these many years.
“Words cannot express my deep gratitude and heartfelt thanks not just for the recent outpouring to me personally of kind words and good wishes, but also for the years of loyal support of AC/DC. My thanks also go to Angus and Cliff for their support.
“Finally, I wish to assure our fans that I am not retiring. My doctors have told me that I can continue to record in studios and I intend to do that. For the moment, my entire focus is to continue medical treatment to improve my hearing. I am hoping that in time my hearing will improve and allow me to return to live concert performances. While the outcome is uncertain, my attitude is optimistic. Only time will tell.
“Once again, my sincere best wishes and thanks to everyone for their support and understanding.
After weeks of rumors, AC/DC confirmed last week that Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose would handle vocals for the group on a string of upcoming European shows as well as the 10 North American gigs that were postponed and will be rescheduled.
In its own statement announcing the change, AC/DC said in part, “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.”
- It’s worth noting that Brian Johnson did not say in his own statement that his departure from AC/DC was permanent, although he also did not say specifically that he hoped to continue to record and eventually tour again with the band.
- Meanwhile, sources close to AC/DC told The Sydney Morning Herald that the choice of Rose for the upcoming tour was “financially motivated.”
- Fan reaction to Rose replacing Johnson — even temporarily — has been largely negative. The fan site AC/DC Italia announced it was shutting down in protest, while AC/DC biographerJesse Fink called it “the worst decision AC/DC has ever made. Fans are pretty disgusted . . . AC/DC is all about the money now.”
- AC/DC guitarist Angus Young made a guest appearance with Guns N’ Roses at the Coachella Festival in California this past weekend, to tie in with the official confirmation of Rose’s involvement.
OFF THE RECORD: A lot of fans still think the “hearing loss” issue is not the sole reason why Brian Johnson was fired — and yes, people in the industry believe he did not leave of his own accord. Apparently Brian has indicated that he wants to tour less often and perform only two or three shows a week when on the road, while Angus — who is 10 years younger than Brian — doesn’t want to slow down just yet.
ASK YOUR LISTENERS:
- Do you think Brian Johnson was fired or had to quit?
- Do you think there’s more to it than hearing loss?
- Even if he is facing a real threat to his hearing, could AC/DC have handled the whole situation better with their singer of 36 years?
INTERNET COMMENTS at Blabbermouth — agree or not?
Rick Tomicich wrote: “Best of luck Brian. Hope to see you once again on stage but if not thank you for all the great music and the best f**king album on this planet Back In Black! The #1 of all time!”
Jeff Chandler wrote: “We unfortunately are living in the day and age where our heroes sometimes just can’t do it anymore. It really sucks when we lose someone like Brian Johnson to something like hearing loss or something else that reminds us that we are human. Best of luck Brian. You were, and are one of the greatest frontmen ever in rock and roll.”
Dennis Ryan wrote: “Brian has always been a class act. Wish him the very best every second of his life.”
C.j. Garcia wrote: “So everyone can now shut up with the whole ‘F**k Angus, they betrayed Brian’ crap. They had no choice. The end. That said, did it have to be Axl??”
Pat Doyle wrote: “Doesn’t make sense…he could wear in-ears or just plug them up with wax, not as if he doesn’t know his parts like the back of his hand after all these years. I smell a buyout whisper campaign here.”