Tuesday, March 8, 2016


This morning the rock world woke up to the shocking news that AC/DC, the unstoppable, immutable hard rock juggernaut was postponing its blockbuster Rock Or Bust Tour because of singer Brian Johnson's hearing problems. This is the latest in a long line of recent troubles in the AC/DC camp, after founding rhythm guitarist Malcolm was sidelined by dementia and beloved drummer Phil Rudd was given the boot because of his legal problems.

More shocking is the fact that they are rescheduling those dates "with a guest vocalist", which means that for the first time in 36 years AC/DC will be fronted by someone other than Brian Johnson. 

AC/DC is famously quite tight-lipped about their internal affairs, even Malcolm's illness was only made public after some leaks had made it unavoidable. Which means all we can do is speculate. So speculate we will.

The tour is already well underway (check out our reviews of the Paris dates HERE and HERE), and cancelling the remaining dates was clearly not an option. So Angus and company can be forgiven for thinking they have no choice but to carry on with a replacement. But what happens at the end of the tour cycle?

At 68, Brian Johnson is the oldest member of the group. Will he ever recover his hearing? That is unlikely. By the time the next album/tour cycle comes around, he will be in his mid-seventies. Unfortunately, I think we've seen the last of Brian in AC/DC. Again, I'm talking out of where the sun don't shine: I have no info, and am basing this on nothing but a hunch. And I'd love to be proved wrong.

So now the million-dollar question is who will step in? They can't replace him with a young, unknown tribute band singer like Journey. I mean, they can. But it would be the worst possible configuration. They can't get one of the millions of Brian/Bon clones out there either, like the guy from Krokus, the guy from Airborne, the guy from Accept... these guys are the antithesis of cool. They have the stage presence of C-level bands at best because that's what they are, if that.

If it's a "guest" vocalist it will most likely be someone famous, someone who will add value to the band. One name already being touted is that of Axl Rose, and while it's a good choice vocally I don't think it'll happen. The man is too unreliable, and I hear he will be busy in the next few months anyway... David Coverdale has the same appreciation for the blues and a penchant for ribald lyrics, but judging by YouTube videos his voice is as busted as Brian's... Other names being baselessly thrown around by the media are Joe Elliott (why?) or Steven Tyler (why not?).

Here's my take. AC/DC is forced to shake things up. So they might as well REALLY shake things up. My suggestion is Mike Mattison, from the Derek Trucks Band. The cat can belt like a motherfucker, has a smokey rasp that would fit the band to a T and can reach notes that Brian hasn't been able to for decades. Or... Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes. She has a hell of a voice and an incredible charisma. I realise I'm being a little radical by suggesting a black woman as the new singer for AC/DC but this is Angus' opportunity to real cement his legacy. He should embrace this as an encouragement to cash in on his "Classic Rock" status. Add horns. Do a Vegas residency. Become the Rolling Stones for the patch denim jacket crowd.

Most likely they'll play it safe and hire Myles Kennedy to finish the tour and call it a day. Which will be fine. This is what we expect from AC/DC: get the job done. Whatever it takes. It would be nice to see them redefine themselves but at this point they are probably too set in the hardest of rock. As befits them.


Axl Rose has been named AC/DC's replacement singer. I think it's a great choice vocally (and even lyrically if the collaboration carries onto recording) but not a particularly popular one. The man has pissed away so much good will that it's hard for anyone (including this fan) to view him as anything other than a tantrum-throwing diva who has endangered fans and destroyed a beloved band. Time will tell if he rises up to the occasion... Axl Rose fronting AC/DC is not a headline I thought I would read, but it's a real, actual dream I had in 1992. Interesting times for rock and roll.

I thought Brian was the deaf one?

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