AC/DC’s frontman Brian Johnson says he had suicidal thoughts—even thinking about driving his car into a wall—when he was replaced in the band by Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose.
Videos by American Songwriter
Said Johnson, “I didn’t want to die…I just wouldn’t have minded all that much.”
Johnson talked about that time in his life, which took place in 2016 when he experienced hearing loss. He was forced to leave the band and their Rock or Bust Tour after experiencing hearing problems and Rose stepped in. But that time caused Johnson to contemplate ending his life, he wrote in his new memoir, The Lives of Brian, which is out Tuesday (October 25).
Johnson says in the memoir that he was receiving treatment for his hearing issues and was set to perform on tour when a medical professional said that he had to stop immediately or else possibly lose what hearing he had left.
Wrote Johnson, “I called Tim, the tour manager, on my mobile right there in the room to tell him that I just couldn’t continue. It was one of the most difficult conversations of my life – the pain of it made worse over the weeks that followed when the tour simply went on without me. It was a sheer cliff. I didn’t tumble down, I was in free fall.”
Johnson said he blamed himself for being in “the loudest band in the world.” He was later told that Rose did a “great job” but to be replaced was nevertheless devastating. “It’s like finding a stranger in your house, sitting in your favorite chair,” he wrote. “But I bear no grudges.”
Taking in the news from the medical professional at first, Johnson says he felt “something close to despair.” The race-car fan added, “I just didn’t fucking care anymore. I’d always thought that the best way to go out would be at 180mph, flat-out around a corner. You’d hit the wall and boom, it would be over, just like that. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to die. … I just wouldn’t have minded all that much.”
But things looked up when a hearing specialist helped Johnson with some new technology that allowed him to perform again. He rejoined the band to record the group’s 17th studio LP, Power Up, which dropped in 2020. But the band hasn’t hit the road since the shows with Rose in 2016.
Johnson has joined Foo Fighters on stage recently, singing AC/DC hits.
Photo by Suzi Pratt/Gettyimages.com