Today, 39 years ago, AC/DC scored their first UK No. 1 album with Back In Black. It was the first AC/DC album recorded without former lead singer Bon Scott (who died on 19 February 1980 at the age of 33), and was dedicated to him.
The album has sold an estimated 49 million copies worldwide to date, making it the second highest selling album of all time, and the best selling hard rock or heavy metal album, as well as the best selling album ever released by a band.
Brian Johnson, Bon Scott’s replacement, had been a big AC/DC fan. Johnson’s name came up after Noddy Holder (Slade) refused to be the successor of Bon Scott.
AC/DC guitarist and co-founder Angus Young later recalled, “I remember the first time I had ever heard Brian’s (Johnson) name was from Bon. Bon had mentioned that he had been in England once touring with a band and he had mentioned that Brian had been in a band called Geordie and Bon had said ‘Brian Johnson, he was a great rock and roll singer in the style of Little Richard.’ And that was Bon’s big idol, Little Richard.”
In March 1980 Johnson received a phone call inviting him to London to audition as the new vocalist for AC/DC.
In September 2009, Johnson was diagnosed with Barrett syndrome. This caused AC/DC to cancel several shows on their 2010 tour in support of Black Ice; however, doctors were able to prevent the disease from developing into cancer.
In March 2016, Johnson stepped down from touring on the Rock or Bust World Tour due to hearing problems. On 20 May 2016, Johnson stated in an interview, “I’ve had a pretty good run” in AC/DC and implied that he might not be returning by saying, “I’m just thankful, really, that I came out of it in one piece.”
• Featured image by bennadn