AC/DC singer Brian Johnson said in a new interview on the Sirius/XM program In The Driver’s Seat that the hearing problems which have stopped him from touring with the group began eight years ago while he was racing. Johnson, an avid professional race car driver, explained, “I was at Watkins Glen (a race track located in Watkins Glen, New York), and I was getting ready to race . . . And I stuck this helmet on, and for the first time ever, I forgot to put my earplugs in. And what happened was, off I went, and after about thirty-five minutes, my left ear just (let out) a little pop. And I went, ‘What the heck was that?'”
He continued, “All that happened was I suffered tinnitus for about six or seven months, but it cleared up and then I was fine again, because we did another tour after that and I was fine. But, unfortunately, on stage, you don’t have any defense. So when we started the tour, I was just fine; we were just rolling along and rolling along. And I think just age and that industrial noise every night on stage . . . I mean, you’re in a rock and roll band. What the hell do you expect?”
- According to Johnson, his hearing issues started interfering with his ability to perform once AC/DC returned to the road in support of the band’s latest album, Rock Or Bust. He said, “I was getting worried because my right ear, my good ear is just about totally deaf . . . it was enough to make things very difficult.”
- Johnson said that his doctor worked to clear up the problem in his ear in time for an Australian tour and the North American leg which was eventually halted, He explained, “We did all the gigs in Australia — that was great — and then we came back and I did ten shows in America, but I’m afraid after that, when I went for my second check, that’s when they said, ‘You’re killing your ears.'”
- Johnson’s doctors told him that he could not perform on stage at large venues where the sound levels were beyond his current tolerance without the risk of substantial hearing loss and possibly total deafness.
- He recalled the band’s reaction to the news, saying, “Angus (Young) and Cliff (Williams), they just said, ‘Jonno, you’ve gotta think of your health.’ And everybody else said, ‘Brian, your health comes first. You’ve done a whole year on the road, you’ve done everything. We wanna finish.’ And that’s what they did.”
- Although Johnson doesn’t know if he’ll ever be able to perform live again, he said he considers himself lucky to have had the career he’s had. He remarked, “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. (The doctor) didn’t tell me I had cancer or something terminal. And 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.”
- Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose took over the mic in AC/DC after Johnson was forced off the road. Rose is slated for now to play AC/DC’s current run of European shows as well as ten postponed North American gigs.
CHECK IT OUT: Sunday night (May 22nd) in Prague, AC/DC performed the song “Touch Too Much” for the first time in 35 years:
JUST OUR OPINION: Brian Johnson remains a class act through what must be a very tough period of his life. Even if he does not return to the stage, either with AC/DC or in another situation, he’s earned every accolade he’s ever received and should enjoy every second of his life from this point on. Brian, we salute you.
INTERNET COMMENTS at Blabbermouth — agree or not?
Thomas Davidson wrote: “A top shelf class act.”
Brian Dedon wrote: “If this was my bandmate. My friend. I would have told him to give it up too. Sometimes you gotta make a warrior lay down his sword. He likes racing, and he can still do that. And he can still sing. But mega tours in stadiums standing in front of speakers set louder than jet planes, thats dangerous to whats left of his hearing. Cheers Brian. Your decision or theirs, it was the right decision.”
Edward Makatura wrote: “Brian’s career is epic, but like an old boxer it was time to hang up his gloves. Time waits for no one.”
Tyler Satterlee wrote: “Cheers Brian, you will always be a legend no matter if you hit stages again or not.”