Brian Johnson joined AC/DC at a time when they had reached its peak back in the 70s. They had just released the universally acclaimed “Highway to Hell” in 1979, which went on to become a massive success.
However, in February of the following year, they lost their lead singer and powerhouse frontman Bon Scott to alcohol poisoning, making the band’s future uncertain. After a period when they considered the quit, AC/DC consulted with Scott’s family, who advised them to carry on, and the band recruited British singer Brian Johnson, previously the frontman of Geordie.
Settled on starting a new era, the band traveled to the Bahamas and started working on their 7th album “Back in Black”, which was released in the Summer of 1980. The record was welcomed with rave reviews and unprecedented enthusiasm, and it became a worldwide hit, currently sitting as the 3rd best-selling album in music history.
Brian Johnson was scared when he emerged as a replacement
Johnson went on to become one of the most iconic rock frontmen of all time and is currently serving his 4th decade with AC/DC. It’s difficult to imagine nowadays that back in 1980, the singer was a scared young man with some very big shoes to fill.
In an interview with AXS TV, Johnson looked back on those early days to recall his conflicting emotions. When questioned if he had troubles to fit in with the rest of the band, the singer said:
“It was scary. It was beautifully scary. Because I was 32 years old, I thought, ‘What am I doing here? Listen, they’re gonna find out after a couple of days that I’m just not that good.'”
“And, you know, Malcolm [Young, rhythm guitar] came up to us, I think on the second day, and he said, ‘Can you write lyrics?’ And I said, ‘I’ll give it a shot.’ He said, ‘Well, here you go!’ And he put it in. And I just heard this riff, and I just wrote. I was a car fanatic then as well, so the first line I wrote down was, ‘She was a fast machine, she kept her motor clean’. [lyrics to ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’]”
“You know, it was the best thing I could come up with [laughs]. ‘Best damn woman I ever seen.’ And it just went on from there. We were only there [for] six weeks. I mean, it belies belief that we actually did this album, this monster album, in six weeks. But the budget was in such a way that we really couldn’t afford to hang around.”