By Brian Ives
Brian Johnson has broken his silence regarding his status with AC/DC, saying that he feels “kicked to the curb” by the band he fronted for over three decades. This revelation comes via comedian and Saturday Night Live alumni Jim Breuer’s podcast.
To recap the situation: the band recently issued a press release saying that their upcoming tour dates would be rescheduled, probably with a replacement frontman, because Johnson “has been advised by doctors to stop touring immediately or risk total hearing loss.”
Breuer said that when he was in Sarasota, Florida, doing a standup comedy gig, Brian Johnson’s family was in attendance at the show. Johnson’s wife told Breuer that the frontman was “really depressed.” She said he didn’t want to talk to the press, or answer questions. “He doesn’t want to talk to people, but he’d like you to come over to the house.”
The comedian obliged, and when he got there, Breuer said with some surprise, “He was depressed! I’ve never seen him ‘down’ before. So I walked in and said, ‘How you doin’?’ And he said, ‘Not good. Not good, me son,'” mimicking Johnson’s Geordie accent.
“But he wasn’t upset about his health.” Breuer stressed. “But he feels like he just kinda got kicked to the curb.”
He said that Johnson said he saw an audiologist (or a “hearing doctor,” as Breuer phrased it) and that the doctor noted that Johnson had lost some of his hearing during the band’s latest tour, which took place in outdoor stadiums. The doctor strongly advised against continuing on for the band’s upcoming tour of indoor arenas (as indoor venues can be more harmful to hearing than open-air venues).
“This is where it gets weird and tricky,” Breuer said. “From what I gather, and I don’t have all of the information… he called [the band] and let them know, ‘This is what the doctor said, but let’s try to figure this out. I don’t think it’s as bad as he says it is.'”
“And literally the next day in the press, it was: ‘Tour cancelled: he’s losing his hearing.'”
He said that Johnson expressed that he wanted to do more shows, “And then all his luggage that he toured with showed up in his driveway. There’s been no calls, no ‘How’s your hearing? How’s your health? What’s goin’ on?'” Instead: “Boom: ‘Here’s your s—, nice to know ya.'”
Breuer exclaimed, “I can’t wrap my head around that.” Johnson told Breuer that he’d had a conversion with the band’s guitarist and founder, Angus Young, “But Angus doesn’t speak!” Johnson told Young that, while he felt he couldn’t do all of the band’s upcoming shows, he’d like to do some of them. Young, he says, didn’t answer.
Breuer also said that Johnson believes the band has already hired a replacement singer, but they haven’t announced it yet. He related that Johnson felt that he wasn’t as important to the band as Young. Johnson, of course, isn’t the band’s original frontman: Bon Scott sang on the band’s first albums, until his death in 1980. At that point, Brian Johnson replaced him, and has been with them ever since (and, it’s worth noting, he was on the band’s most successful album, 1980’s Back In Black).
But Johnson has become an important part of the band and their iconography: as Breuer told him, “[When] I think of AC/DC, I think of you and Angus!”
Sadly, Breuer says, “I don’t think he believes that… it’s a little weird hearing him talk like that.” He noted that Johnson is unsure of his status with the band, “He doesn’t know if it’s over forever.” He did say that Johnson felt that Young, the youngest member of the band at 60 years old, wants to continue for another ten years, regardless of the frontman situation. Johnson is 67 years old.
Breuer said that by the end of the visit to Johnson’s, the two were laughing, which was Breuer’s goal. He also shared some other bizarre news: that Johnson is mulling a career in standup comedy, saying that he’s considering doing ten minutes of standup at an open-mic night. He also related a rather weird story story of Johnson going to a karaoke bar with the late Glenn Frey. Johnson sang Little Richard’s “Tutti Fruitti,” while Frey covered Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love.”
Listen to the full podcast below.