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AC/DC’s Brian Johnson clarifies position on exit from group
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AC/DC’s Brian Johnson clarifies position on exit from group

by Stephen Charlton2016/04/19

AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson has issued an in-depth statement about his exit from the group. He said he felt earlier official statement by the band did not “sufficiently set out what I wanted to say to our fans or the way in which I thought it should be presented.” Johnson also said he is not retiring from music, rather just stepping down from large-scale live shows:

“For the near future, I will be unable to perform on stage at arena and stadium size venues… without the risk of substantial hearing loss and possibly total deafness… My doctors have told me that I can continue to record in studios and I intend to do that.”

“I am personally crushed by this development more than anyone could ever imagine. The emotional experience I feel now is worse than anything I have ever in my life felt before. Being part of AC/DC, making records and performing for the millions of devoted fans this past 36 years has been my life’s work.  I cannot imagine going forward without being part of that, but for now I have no choice. The one thing for certain is that I will always be with AC/DC at every show in spirit, if not in person.”

Brian Johnson quiet on Axl Rose’s entrance to AC/DC

Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose at one of the band's recent reunion shows.

Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose at one of the band’s recent reunion shows.

In some ways Brian’s comments raise more questions than they answer. Interestingly, he doesn’t at all directly address the entrance of Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose to the group. Rose’s joining up with AC/DC, which appears to be mainly to fulfill the band’s touring commitments, was met with widespread criticism from fans. Many pointed to his history of bad behaviour and late appearances as evidence he was not the right man for the job. Rose will perform 12 dates in Europe on the Rock or Bust Tour with AC/DC, as well as performing 10 rescheduled dates in the US. The latter had to be cancelled after Johnson’s injury occurred. Read the full story on Rose’s AC/DC commitments here.

Johnson did address his former band members, albeit very briefly:

“Words cannot express my deep gratitude and heartfelt thanks not just for the recent outpouring to me personally of kind words and good wishes, but also for the years of loyal support of AC/DC.  My thanks also go to Angus and Cliff for their support.”

Reading between the lines, it seems earlier claims by US comedian Jim Breuer that Johnson felt “kicked to the curb” by AC/DC may have some degree of accuracy. Johnson doesn’t actually say he is out of the group permanently. However AC/DC said they “wish him all the best with his hearing issues and future ventures,” the wording of which does seem to suggest he is in fact out of the band.

Johnson’s full statement:

As many AC/DC fans know, the remaining shows for the 2016 AC/DC Rock or Bust World Tour, including 10 postponed U.S. shows, are being rescheduled with a guest singer. I want personally to explain the reason because I don’t believe the earlier press releases sufficiently set out what I wanted to say to our fans or the way in which I thought it should be presented.

On March 7th, after a series of examinations by leading physicians in the field of hearing loss, I was advised that if I continue to perform at large venues, I risked total deafness. While I was horrified at the reality of the news that day, I had for a time become aware that my partial hearing loss was beginning to interfere with my performance on stage. I was having difficulty hearing the guitars on stage and because I was not able to hear the other musicians clearly, I feared the quality of my performance could be compromised.  In all honesty this was something I could not in good conscience allow. Our fans deserve my performance to be at the highest level, and if for any reason I can’t deliver that level of performance I will not disappoint our fans or embarrass the other members of AC/DC. I am not a quitter and I like to finish what I start, nevertheless, the doctors made it clear to me and my bandmates that I had no choice but to stop performing on stage for the remaining shows and possibly beyond. That was the darkest day of my professional life.

Since that day, I have had several consultations with my doctors and it appears that, for the near future, I will be unable to perform on stage at arena and stadium size venues where the sound levels are beyond my current tolerance, without the risk of substantial hearing loss and possibly total deafness. Until that time, I tried as best as I could to continue despite the pain and hearing loss but it all became too much to bear and too much to risk.

I am personally crushed by this development more than anyone could ever imagine. The emotional experience I feel now is worse than anything I have ever in my life felt before. Being part of AC/DC, making records and performing for the millions of devoted fans this past 36 years has been my life’s work. I cannot imagine going forward without being part of that, but for now I have no choice. The one thing for certain is that I will always be with AC/DC at every show in spirit, if not in person.

Most importantly, I feel terrible having to disappoint the fans who bought tickets for the cancelled shows and who have steadfastly supported me and AC/DC these many years. Words cannot express my deep gratitude and heartfelt thanks not just for the recent outpouring to me personally of kind words and good wishes, but also for the years of loyal support of AC/DC.  My thanks also go to Angus and Cliff for their support.

Finally, I wish to assure our fans that I am not retiring. My doctors have told me that I can continue to record in studios and I intend to do that.  For the moment, my entire focus is to continue medical treatment to improve my hearing. I am hoping that in time my hearing will improve and allow me to return to live concert performances. While the outcome is uncertain, my attitude is optimistic. Only time will tell.

Once again, my sincere best wishes and thanks to everyone for their support and understanding.

Love, Brian.

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About The Author
Stephen Charlton
Stephen Charlton is a musician and journalist based in Melbourne, Australia.

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