Metal Icon Reveals Why Axl Rose Joining AC/DC Was Initially ‘A Bitter Pill To Swallow’


Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian called the Axl Rose-fronted AC/DC concert he saw in New York City was “one of the best rock shows” he has ever seen, though he said it was initially a “bitter pill to swallow” when he first found out Rose would be replacing Brian Johnson.

During an interview on the Appetite For Distortion podcast, Ian was asked what he thought of seeing AC/DC perform with Rose.

“I’ll be completely honest: when I first heard that Axl was gonna do shows with AC/DC, I just wasn’t feeling it,” he said. “I can’t tell you why other than maybe because I’m just such an AC/DC fan for so long and it just seemed weird to me that all of a sudden Brian was pushed to the wayside. And like a lot of AC/DC fans, I think that was kind of a bitter pill to swallow. So I was kind of like, ‘Ehhh…’ It’s not my band. I get it. I’m never gonna be the guy to tell someone else how to run their business; I understand it. But as a fan, I don’t have to buy into it — no one’s forcing me to buy into it. But it turns out we get to have a night off on tour and it turns out we’re close enough to New York to go see AC/DC at Madison Square Garden. And then Axl was kind enough to… A friend of mine who knows Axl and his assistant was kind enough to get a bunch of us on the guest list for that show. And I can’t speak highly enough about it.

“And even before that… I’m sorry, I skipped a step,” he continued. “I saw a clip online — I can’t remember from where — but I saw Axl singing ‘Riff Raff’ with AC/DC and it blew my mind how great it was. [I was] just like, ‘Holy crap! That’s perfect! It’s perfect!’ So then, of course, I got excited about the show. And then the show itself was two and a half hours of perfection. I’ve gone on record: it’s the best AC/DC show I’ve ever seen. And I headbanged for two and a half hours, which is about an hour longer than I even headbang in an Anthrax show, so I actually, even on a night off, I worked harder at the AC/DC show [laughs] than I normally would at one of my own gigs.”

Ian added: “It was incredible — one of the best rock shows I’ve ever seen. I can’t say enough about it. The setlist was mindblowing and Axl was note-perfect on all the Brian and the Bon [Scott] stuff. His passion for it was obvious. It was incredible — it was really, really an incredible night.

“20 years from now, if someone asks me, ‘What’s the best show you’ve seen in the last 20 years?’ I have the answer. No question, it’s that.”